Diabetes affects the health of the bone. Bone pain is a common diabetes-related complication that originates from diverse bone problems. Hyperglycemia is associated with loss of bone mineral density or osteoporosis, which makes the bones vulnerable to fracture. Fractured bone is a major cause of severe bone pain in diabetics.
Osteomyelitis, a type of bacterial infection that affects the bones, is another cause of bone pain in diabetics. Hyperglycemia tends to damage the small blood vessels that supply blood and nourishment to the bone, creating a favorable environment for bacteria to invade the bones. Loss of small portions of the bone and development of bony spurs on the spine are other sources of diabetic bone pain.
Identifying the cause of the bone pain and providing appropriate treatment can provide relief from diabetic bone pain. Moreover, to promote fast healing, the blood sugar level should be kept under control.
Types of Diabetic Bone Pain Treatment Options
Pain Relief Drugs
Pain relief medications are used as the first line treatment for bone pain. However, these medications cannot provide permanent relief from chronic bone pain. Mild to moderate diabetic bone pain may be treated with analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen.
Topical versions of NSAIDs can effectively reduce bone pain. Certain topical pain medications such as capsaicin or menthol ointments work by numbing the sensation of pain. Severe bone pains that do not respond to conventional pain relief drugs are treated with opioids. These narcotic pain relief drugs are available strictly by prescription. To avoid addiction, they are used for a short time.
Bone pain that cannot be cured with medications requires surgery. Diabetics have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis that increases the risk of bone fractures. Although osteoporosis does not cause bone pain, treating osteoporosis helps to prevent painful fractures.
Treatment for bone fracture in diabetics is same as that in non-diabetics. In most cases, the broken bones are aligned and the area is immobilized with circumferential cast. Surgery is needed for treating fractures that cannot be healed with the traditional procedure. In diabetics, hyperglycemia delays healing of bone fracture. Therefore, strict diabetes control is necessary for promoting fracture healing.
Diabetics may experience bone pain due to bone growth in the spine. This condition known as diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) is common in people with type 2 diabetes. In few cases, surgical removal of the bone growths helps to cure bone pain.
When an underlying infection of the bone or osteomyelitis causes bone pain, antibiotics help to reduce the pain by treating the infection. At the initial stage of treatment, intravenous antibiotics are usually used for treating the infection. Multiple antibiotic drugs are used for treatment. Standard treatment options include combination of new generation penicillin-like antibiotics and cephalosporin. Certain bacterial infections are treated by combining cephalosporin with clindamycin, vancomycin or rifamin.
Applying ice or cold packs to the affected area numbs the pain, reduces swelling and alleviates bone pain.
Calcitonin is a hormone, which by regulating the calcium level supports bone building. Drugs containing calcitonin are used for treating osteoporosis. It is also effective in treating bone pain due to fractures.
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