What can I do to ease pain caused by osteoporosis?
Q) I suffer from osteoporosis, affecting my lower spine and pelvis. I've had a facet joint injection, which helped for six months but the pain began again and I dread the thought of taking stronger painkillers. I have a progressive lung disease so get out of breath if I try to exercise. I am on Actonel and calcium.
Yvette Braddock, Willenhall, West Midlands (Spring 2006)
A) Osteoporosis is a ‘silent’ condition until the bone fractures – this can happen in the back just by bending and lifting. Back pain can also be associated with wear in the joints, such as the small joints at the back of the spine, called facet joints. As with other forms of arthritis an injection of steroid will often relieve the pain, but the injection is difficult to do and it should be preceded by an injection of local anaesthetic to confirm that this really is the cause of the pain. There are other potential causes of back pain – the muscles, ligaments and discs and sorting out which of these is the cause of the pain is sometimes very difficult to do. Arthritis Research UK has information on back pain which goes over this in more detail and provides exercises to help keep the back strong and flexible.
Read our information on back pain.