Can Bones Hurt? Bone Pain and Rheumatoid Disease

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 The main misconception about bones then, is that they are made up of dead tissue. This is not true, they have cells, nerves, blood vessels and pain receptors.1

Sunset over barn - awesome even via narrow window

Ever hear that bones can’t hurt?

Did you ever have the flu or a fever and your bones just ached? It can be enough to make you forget all about what your knees and wrists were screaming about. I’ve heard a doctor say that bones “can’t hurt,” but I’ve also heard patients say they do.

For years it was believed that only the surface layer of bone is innervated.2 I stumbled on some articles about bone pain this summer when I was reading about broken bones after being diagnosed with a rib fracture. It was interesting to read that bones have plenty of nerves of various kinds that can ache deep inside or hurt sharply on the surface.

Bones can be painful for several reasons

It’s easy to find information about bone pain with stress fractures or sickle cell disease, or cancers such as myeloma, lung cancer, or breast cancer. Bone pain is even associated with other “rheumatological” diseases such as Paget’s disease, osteoarthritis, or transient osteoporosis.

But what about bone pain with rheumatoid disease (RD) /RA?

It’s not as well recognized that RD can cause bone pain, but some realities support its likelihood:

1)     Rheumatoid disease can cause bone damage. And other conditions that cause bone damage are recognized as painful.
2)     Bone inflammation is associated with several conditions (including RD) and known to cause severe pain.
3)     Bone edema in RD is associated with pain, disease activity, and poor prognosis.
4)     People living with rheumatoid disease (PRD) often say their bones hurt.


Have you ever experienced bone pain with RD? Were you able to determine the cause? How did your doctors respond?

Related stories

Taking head-on the claims that it’s a “well established” fact people with rheumatoid disease (RD) have a lower pain threshold. Reasons this claim falls flat, and why it matters. Continue reading… Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Really Hurt That Much?

The list of symptoms in people with RD is long, and fortunately not every patient has every symptom. PRD often wonder “Is this from the rheumatoid?” or “Am I the only one with this symptom?” To explore the 51 posts about “Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms,” click here.

Recommended reading


1 Johnson DR. University of Leeds: Faculty of Biological Sciences [Internet]. Leeds (England):  Introductory Anatomy: Bones. 2001 Feb 1; [cited 2014 Sep 1]. Available from:

2 Jones KB, Mollano AV, Morcuende JA, Cooper RR, Saltzman CL. Bone and Brain: A Review of Neural, Hormonal, and Musculoskeletal Connections. Iowa Orthop J [Internet]. 2004 [cited 2014 Sep 1]; 24: 123–132. Available from:

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 17th, 2014 at 4:44 am and is filed under The Real Rheumatoid Disease. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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