Is back pain normal in osteoporosis? - Bone Health

Bone Health

4,477 members1,863 posts

Is back pain normal in osteoporosis?

Collywobbles64 profile image
28 Replies

I went to the doctors in 2012 with chronic backpain. I knew I had lost height and the doctor sent me for a DEXA scan. I was diagnosed with osteopenia and it was suggested that I supplement with calcium to keep active. Still had the back pain and the calcium/magnesium supplement gave me diarrhoea, I was also taking VitD3 as I have MS and had found out the previous year that I was severely deficient in this. Back problems persisted and in 2015 after another DEXA I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. At that time I was offered AA but after researching the drug decided against it.

I started supplementing with VitK2 and Viridian Bone Complex as well as the D3. Another DEXA scan 2019 and unfortunately my osteoporosis has got worse. What I don't understand is I have developed this condition whilst I was active (I had 2 border collies who I walked twice a day usually in woods on uneven surfaces). Also I was doing yoga or pilates twice weekly, gym work, tai chi - all of which I have given up due to lower back pain. I'm at the stage now where 10 minutes gardening causes me to lose feeling in my legs. Any bending, stretching, twisting, standing still for 20 minutes and I struggle to move. I have not broken or fractured anything.

I have privately paid to check my thyroid (results are normal) and I'm awaiting the results for celiac disease as I understand there may be a connection here. I don't know what to do anymore as my quality of life is very limited. I'm only 54 but the doctors talk as if this is normal for someone of my age and apart from drugs they are not interested.

28 Replies
HeronNS profile image

Pain associated with osteoporosis may, not always, occur with fractures but otherwise I think it is accurately known as a silent disease as there are no symptoms. Your pain may be due more to muscles. I get a lot of back pain, associated with osteoarthritis, and I have back exercises prescribed over the years by various physiotherapists and doctors. The exercises do help. I've had a DXA scan and an x-ray and there is no sign of fractures, but the spine does need attention because of posture, etc. Apparently I've developed mild scoliosis over the years and with physiotherapy and exercises we've prevented it from getting worse. So there can be lots of causes of back pain.

If you can see a physiotherapist who has some experience with treating people with osteoporosis (you do need to be careful of the spine) you can get some good advice about what you can do. I believe the main thing is to keep muscles which support the spine in good condition.

Collywobbles64 profile image
Collywobbles64 in reply to HeronNS

Thank you for replying. I don't know whether the problem is the osteoporosis or the degenerative disk and facet joint arthritis but certainly the epidural steroid injections have not worked.

zepo profile image

Crikey! It is hard to understand that you still have back pain after doing all that exercise! You'd think your muscles would be strong. I am supposed to be doing exercise for back pain (osteoporosis and arthritis), but I now wonder if it will help after reading this!

How long were you taking the supplements for, before your last Dexa?

Collywobbles64 profile image
Collywobbles64 in reply to zepo

Hi Zepo, I've been taking supplements on and off for 19 years now after I was diagnosed with MS. The Bone Complex, VitK2 and VitD3 combo for the last 2 years and VitD3 for the past 8 years. It's all been a bit ad-hoc as the health professionals don't give you any advice and it has been me trying out things as I learn about them.

zepo profile image
zepo in reply to Collywobbles64

Has your Vit D level gone up at all?

Collywobbles64 profile image
Collywobbles64 in reply to zepo

My VitD levels went up substantially whilst I was taking the H&B vitd3 drops but I have not had it checked for a 3/4 years and not at all since I changed to the Delux spray.

LynneH-19 profile image

Sorry to hear you have chronic back pain. As your other replies suggest it could be due to some other cause.

Was you ‘thyroid’ test to check your parathyroid gland, as this is the one linked to OP? Occasionally members on the NOF forum have reported that they were found to have parathyroid disease / tumour and their condition improved once the gland was removed.

Although exercise is very important, you could be doing too much, or including movements that are causing more damage. I assume your Pilates and yoga teachers know you have OP, but do they bear this in mind and tell you to avoid certain movements? Bending and twisting if not done slowly and with great care, are potentially hazardous movements.

Doing too much wt lifting can also cause micro fractures. I’ve found it’s also easy to jar my spine when I walk on rough tracks or uneven pavements. Everything in moderation!

Exercise, bones and muscles all need quality protein


You say you haven’t fractured your spine? How do you know for sure? Have you had it x-rayed, or some other scan, apart from a DEXA?

Try to find a physio who actually KNOWS about OP and ask their advice.

I hope you soon get help and improve.

Collywobbles64 profile image
Collywobbles64 in reply to LynneH-19

Hi LynneH-19

I don't do any exercise now as I just cannot do it. I had my TSH, fT4, fT3 and antibodies tested (all normal). How did you find your physio?

Cocosa profile image

But you do have MS? A quick search on Google:»People with MS have a hige amount of risk for the development of osteoporosis. MS is an inflammatory disease, and some of the same cytokines that cause inflammation in MS have also been seen in osteoporosis patients. Even medication used to treat MS can contribute to bone weakening.»

Collywobbles64 profile image
Collywobbles64 in reply to Cocosa

Hi Cocosa,

Yes, after my diagnosis I found out that people with MS can also get osteoporosis and I did in fact have a deficiency with VitD3. Steroids are one of the treatments for MS episodes and I know that this is not good for your bones, but I have never had any treatment for my MS or taken any drugs for this condition.

Cocosa profile image

Regarding magnesium supplements; there are several types you can try to find one that suites you, for instance Magnesium Treonate. I use Magnesium Chloride oil applied to skin. It is as I understand, very important with magnesium for almost everybody today.

netball7 profile image


So sorry to hear that you are struggling and have done everything you can to try and help yourself. What are your dexa scores?

Like you I have an inflammation disease and unless are markers are under control it attacks are weakest areas so perhaps you need to get your medication checked and see if your inflammation is under control. I was on methotrexate but its stopped working so trying other medication now this has had an impact on my bone density! Good luck and all the best. I am 52 so feel your pain!!

Collywobbles64 profile image
Collywobbles64 in reply to netball7

Hi netball7

My dexa scores are

Spine T-score -4.2 a decrease of 14% since last scan

Hip -1.6 decrease of 11.2%

Femoral Neck -1.7 now osteopoenic

What is the methotrexate for? I don't take any medication.

netball7 profile image
netball7 in reply to Collywobbles64


Hip and Neck good scores to be fair what part of your spine have you been given scores on for example the only part of my spine showing Osteoporosis is L1 - L4. Inflammation is the precursor so lots of problems in the body and is recorded using blood tests.

Your CRP levels should be normal if you don't have any infections or chronic inflammatory conditions - you mentioned you had MS do you have any regular blood test to see if this is effecting your levels of inflammation? If not perhaps you should.

Collywobbles64 profile image
Collywobbles64 in reply to netball7

My various MS consultants have never mentioned having any blood tests for anything. I had to ask about D3 and B12. It is my lumber spine that is affected L1 - L5 and not one consultant or doctor that I have seen, has suggested blood tests to record inflammation. Trying to get anything out of my GP is like pulling teeth and appointments take up to a month. I'm being referred to a rheumatologist as well as a 2nd opinion from a neurospinal consultant, so I shall ask about these blood tests. Thank you.

Collywobbles64 profile image

I do apply BetterYou Magnesium Gel to my skin daily. I did use the oil but it can be a little messy and sometimes use the lavender magnesium lotion at night as this can help me sleep. I'm going to look at magnesium bisglycinate as an option to magnesium citrate (although the citrate is good for constipation - lol)

LynneH-19 profile image

Thyroid and parathyroid are completely different glands. You need your PTH , ie parathyroid hormone testing if possible.

I too was having chronic back pain for a number of years and fortunately a neighbour mentioned a sports injury clinic /Physio in my area in the UK. Recommendation is helpful, otherwise look up a list of phone numbers of Physios and make sure they have experience at treating patients with OP, before making an appointment.

I went to her as a patient and she concluded after examining me that either one of the falls I had sustained in the past, had affected by spinal alignment/posture, so I was slightly leaning to one side. These were when I tripped over the edge of a carpet and landed on my bum, damaging my coccyx in 2004, followed by a fall in doors in 2010 when i broke both wrists and landed on my hip. Only then was I allowed a DEXA scan!

Although there was no quick fix for this as the damage was 'set', she recommended her Pilates class. I've been going a few years now and its certainly helped my posture. My back pains episodes are less frequent, provided I'm careful!

I'm 70 and have been working as a volunteer in a Wildlife hospital since retiring 11 yrs ago, from a NHS Path Lab. I'm careful about lifting. I told my Physio what tasks I do at work and she demonstrated how I should do them. For example I now bend my knees into a squat and keep a straight back when I lift a skipper containing a critter, from a low shelf, combined with the Pilates abdominal muscle control/ breathing training ie blowing the movement away (breathing out) as I then stand up.

When I'm lifting a skipper from a higher shelf: I keep my back straight and use my abdominal muscles combined with Pilates breathing, to do this. The main thing is, to know your limitations and get help with moving items if you know they are likely to be too heavy.

The above simple techniques apply to many everyday tasks around the home. Squats, using abdominal muscles correctly and breathing correctly are So important.

My down fall can be gardening as I tend to forget when to stop!

Best wishes

MiaLee profile image

You do know that everyone loses height as they age; it is a simple fact of gravity. In fact, you are slightly taller in the mornings, than in the evening as a result of gravity, Backpain is also very normal in human beings. ‘Osteopenia’ is also not a disease; bone mass naturally declines as we age, and these dexa scans compare your bone mass to that of a 30 year old. So be careful. Those ‘osteoporosis’ drugs are very scary. Your doctor is sensible and suggests upping calcium ( if you can do this through plant based calcium, even better). Don’t get swept up in this recently manufactured by Big Pharma ‘osteoporosis epidemic’. Those bars for bone mass were arbitrarily set at a board meeting by the drug company Mercek; they also made the scanners and got them out there in a large campaign pushing scans. Read thoroughly. Check out all you can before going down that route of taking those bone eating drugs. This site has lots of links to the research that refutes Big Pharma’s take on osteoporosis to help you sort out what is right for you. There are too many women on this site that have been almost destroyed by those drugs; be cautious.

Collywobbles64 profile image

Yes MiaLee I am aware that as we age we lose height and the effects of gravity. However, I discovered that I'd lost 1.5 inches off my height at the age of 46 before the menopause, and before I got diagnosed with osteopenia 6 months later. I have refused AA as I did my research and decided the risks were too great. My problem is that whatever I do, doesn't seem to work for me and most of what people have suggested I have tried. I do believe in cause and effect and that there is a link between mineral deficiencies and illness. I just don't know what mine is. It is known that there is a link between MS, osteoporosis, blood pressure, rosacea and celiac disease. I am currently awaiting the results for celiac disease but if this comes back negative I'm running out of ideas.

Toplady profile image

Hi Collywobbles 64. I, like you was diagnosed with Osteoporosis at a young age (47 & premenopausal) and have lost height. I had a spontaneous Sacral fracture in 2015 which has put me into a wheelchair and left me with severe chronic pain which is difficult to manage. I was referred straight away to a rheumatologist who couldn’t find any reason for the Osteoporosis but advised medication as my risk for further fractures was too high. I have been on AA ever since, suffered no side effects and my scores have improved. I am now 52 and still premenopausal so am a little worried as to what will happen once I do reach menopause as obviously we all know that bone mass plummets then. But I try to keep positive.

My advice to you would be

1. Find an experienced rheumatologist who knows about Osteoporosis.

2. Find out for sure if you have any spinal fractures - I had one and it didn’t show up on the Dexa scan

3. Ask your GP to refer you to a pain management clinic; they are very experienced in helping you to manage chronic pain. They were literally my saviours, the doctors there gave me different medication until we found the combination that helped the most and organised courses/counselling to help you cope with being in pain on a long term basis.

I hope you get the help and support you need, I agree that 54 is far too young to cast off and told that this is all normal, why, we’re only getting started....!!! 🤗

Collywobbles64 profile image

Thank you Toplady. I've been referred to a rheumatologist by the pain management consultant, I will ask about fractures when I get an appointment.

Fran57 profile image

Hi. I have to wait to see if my Dexa scan shows improved osteoporosis , but I’m hoping so because I researched everything because on diagnosis I did not want to take the medication offered. I found out that I had hyperparathyroidism and had the gland removed. My surgeon said the medication would have made no difference at all because of the hyperparathyroidism. Please do check on your parathyroid levels.

And keep your fingers crossed for me later in the year!

Fran 😉

Collywobbles64 profile image

I will certainly ask about the parathyroid when I see the consultant and good luck with your next DEXA scan. Please let me know the result.

LynneH-19 profile image

Hi Collywobbes

When you see your doctor, ask for a vit D blood test as well. I send my finger prick blood spots off for checking twice a year, as my GP won't request it.

If you aren't having enough D3 your level can turn out to be lower than you want. On the other hand, it's possible to get too high a blood level if you keep taking a high dose, but don't get your level checked. I vary my dose according to my last vit D blood test.

The UK NHS lab I use state 220 nmol/L as being high.

I've found over the years, achieving a good vit D blood levels can be a bit hit and miss, for several reasons.

Supplements are not as rigorously controlled as prescription drugs, so you cannot be sure they contain the amount stated on the label. We personally vary in how much our bodies can absorb. As we get older, our bodies ability to make vit D via the skin, from sunlight get poorer.

Best wishes

Aristotle13 profile image

I only noticed one thing missing in most of these posts and that is the zinc supplement. The D3 is necessary to ensure that the calcium is absorbed correctly into the blood stream. The K2-7 sends the Calcium to the correct place which is a zinc based matrix upon which the new bone will grow. No zinc means no matrix and no bone growth. This may be a bit simplified but the path is I believe correct, so, is the zinc missing? Could it be as simple as that?

Busymommy profile image
Busymommy in reply to Aristotle13

Hi Aristotle13. I read your post from a year ago. Are your t scores still improving without meds? I have some serious decisions to make and am curious. Thanks

Bernieisinthe profile image

Since you are getting shorter, maybe you have a hernlated disc ? A disc that is flattened and pushing on the nerve ?

Would need a MRI .

If you are losing feeling in your legs, could be blood flow or nerve damage. ?

Collywobbles64 profile image
Collywobbles64 in reply to Bernieisinthe

Yes i do have a herniated disc with annular tear, but I also have a slight scoliosis as well as osteoporotic changes. I have had MRIs but the doctors kept using my MS as an excuse, then they tried using the osteoporosis as an excuse. All they want to do is give me drugs but I keep pushing for a resolution to my problems. I'm awaiting an appointment with a neurospinal consultant in December, but in the meantime I am having physio to try and improve my back movement but all this does is cause me more pain and my walking has gone completely to pot not that I could walk far before..

You may also like...