Bone pain mechanism in osteoporosis: a narrative review

Clin Cases Miner Bone Metab. 2016 May-Aug;13(2):97-100. doi: 10.11138/ccmbm/2016.13.2.097. Epub 2016 Oct 5.


Bone pain in elderly people dramatically affects their quality of life, with osteoporosis being the leading cause of skeletal related events. Peripheral and central mechanisms are involved in the pathogenesis of the nervous system sensitization. Osteoporosis in the elderly has been associated with increased density of bone sensory nerve fibers and their pathological modifications, together with an over-expression of nociceptors sensitized by the lowering pH due to the osteoclastic activity. The activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors and the microglia, as a response to a range of pathological conditions, represent the leading cause of central sensitization. Unfortunately, osteoporosis is named the "silent thief" because it manifests with painful manifestation only when a fracture occurs. In the management of patients suffering from bone pain, both the nociceptive and the neuropathic component of chronic pain should be considered in the selection of the analgesic treatment.

Keywords: bone; opioids; osteoporosis; pain mechanism.

Publication types

  • Review