Have you suffered from bone or joint problems after chemotherapy?

Hi, I am keen to find out if there are any other women who have undergone chemotherapy for breast cancer, and have then developed degenerative bone and joint problems.

I was given 3 x FEC and 3 x Taxotere last year, and since then I have found out that my bones seem to be crumbling away at a very fast rate! I have just come out of hospital after suffering from severe pain due to problems in my spine. I had to endure an epidural, but this is not the first problem I have had. I also had wierd head pains that were traced to damage in the top part of my spine, and a bone scan revealed that I have degeneration in the hip area as well. Beofre this, I was a fit 52 year old with no history of joint probs.

Many thanks for your time.
Best wishes, Annie

Annie - all I can say is get the oncs to keep a close eye on your bones. I know this will scare you but my degenerative bones turned out to be bony secondaries 6 months later.
Hopefully yours is something linked to osteoporosis. Presumably you are post menopausal now as that causes bone degeneration I believe. Are they giving you some biphosphonates to build your bones up?
I’m not very good at hormonal treatments but do these help or hinder bone strength?
Wishing you well.

Annie,I had pains all over the place after chemo(4xFEC,4xTax)My feet were so sore I could hardly put weight on them until I’d been up for a couple of hours and my back was so bad that at times I couldnt walk to yhe car without holding onto someone! I also had bursitis in my shoulder within weeks of my treatment finishing.I felt like an old woman at 46! I was told by my doctor that it was probably the change kicking in but I dont think so as within twelve months I was back to my old self - apart from my feet as the chemo has left me with peripheral neuropathy in my toes.

Hi Annie,
I too had a lot of joint and back pain on finishing my cheo 8 x taotere and after my onc had ruled out compression, she reckoned it was just my nerves getting back to normal causing my muscles to ache - lots. Would get bone thing checked to see what they can do to help slow it down.


Thanks everyone, for your suggestions. I am triple neg, so it kind of rules out hormonal treatments. I have just spent 8 days in hospital, and the bones have caused nerve entrapment. I am now on crutches, cannot sit, but only lie in an ‘s’ shape, and I am on so much morphine, I can’t work out how I am still functioning! It just doesn’t touch the pain. I have had to cancel holiday, which we booked to celebrate the end of treatment, give away hot tickets to see ‘Joseph’ (I know, I’m sad!) and I am booked to do the Ribbon Walk for Breast Cancer Care on 14th June…Mmmmm, could be interesting… watch this space!

I will also ask about biophosphonates. Thanks for help.

I was given a Dexa bone scan prior to starting hormone treatment, after my chemo and rads and was found to have osteoporosis. As I had been a healthy 45 year old prior to my treatment I found this very difficult to understand. I am having monthly Zolodex implants to suppress my ovaries and taking Femara(Letrozole) and my joints and bones constantly hurt, particularly my knees and my legs and even the bones in my feet hurt. My GP is convinced that the osteoporosis has been caused by the chemotherapy and I am too. I have been put on Calcium and vitamin D and also alendronic acid, which I have not taken yet because the side effects scared me.
Hope you find some relief from your pain.
best wishes

Hi Annie - sorry to hear about your joint problems…

When my ovaries were removed in 1994 (aged 38), I was sort of given a pat on the head and told not to worry when I asked about osteoporosis, but it always nagged at me a bit. A few years later I had one of those ‘cheapo’ heel scans in a local gym which suggested that I might be starting to have problems. I took it to my GP, who said he thought it was a bit of gimmick, but agreed, since I had also been on tamoxifen (bad for bones) for some years, to send me for a DEXA scan. The results of the DEXA scan were exactly the same as the those of the ‘gimmick’.

I’ve now been on firstly alendronic acid and now ibandrondic acid (and all the calcium and vit D, etc) - Bonviva - for some years (I’m 51 now) and they appear to be doing their job - a more recent DEXA scan showed no change - ie, an improvement in real terms as our bones thin anyway as we get older. I haven’t noticed any particular side effects with this medication (but I don’t much with drugs anyway - I’m taking Femara now). Also, I’ve heard (have others?) that these osteoporosis drugs are now starting to be thought to be helpful in treating/preventing cancer in bones - is this right?

On a slightly different, minor, note, a few months after I finished chemotherapy (2003), I had 3 months of terrible problems with my teeth. No less than 5 broke with no warning whatsoever! My dentist said, as he upgraded his flight, that he thought it was just coincidence, but I’m not so sure! Has anyone else had this?

Hi Annie,
I’ve had reaally bad joint pains but no degenerative bone probs but someone I know, whose had bc, has probs with bones which was a rare side effect of steroids.
Take care Liz x

I have been on Alendronic Acid, & Calcium for two years, not for BC but because I am on Methotexrate and Prednisolone for Dermatomyositis ( an auto immune condition ). I have not noticed any side effects though do have aches in my back, shoulder and arm & have numbness in my chin & face. Finished Chemo in Sept (TAC) and Rads in Jan.

hi bahons2 .about the teeth thing i lost quite a few teeth after chemo ,my dentist said it was because of the taxotare but he couldnt say for sure but hed seen a few ladies who were post chemo with dental problems ,can i say i also lost all my finger and toe nails and had bleeding gums and swelling in my mouth . i find now that the teeth i do have left are very sensetive. so maybe your problems are also related to treatments ,also im on arimadex and the bone pains can really get me down a lot . lynn x

I have got bad joint pains especially in my hands, wrists, legs, knees and spine following chemo (Epi, and CMF - I was allergic to Taxotere so did not have it). I’m 50, was fit before the treatment and now I cannot squat or sit cross-legged and even getting up and down stairs is tough.

I had been putting my joint pains down to Arimidex, which I’d been taking for three months and my GP thought the same. However, my onc has booked me for a bone scan and Dexa scan (the latter for bone density) and I’d suggest anyone with joint pains post BC should do the same.

Since taking Arimidex I too have had very bad joint pains, I cannot move in bed to turn over, or get out of bed.My knees are the worst , especially for bending and getting up. However since radiotherapy, I have had severe shoulder pain , which has since been diagnosed as a torn tendon (perhaps from putting my arm back for treatment during radiotherapy) , and since receiving a cortisone injection for the shoulder ,the rest of my joints have improved tremendously. I am not saying this is a cure, but I intend to ask onc. at my next review with him, if this is an option to have an injection once a year to help with my mobility. I am seeing him at the end of July , so will let you know the outcome. I know I feel like my old self again ,(instead of feeling very old) which is wonderful. I hope you get some ease
Very best wishes

Thanks everyone for your comments and advice. I had a steroid injection in my spine 3 weeks ago, but unfortunately it has not helped. I will certainly ask about some of the drug treaments you have all suggested, although I am not on Tamoxifen etc, as I am triple neg.

I don’t know, you’d think having cancer was enough without all these other problems we’ve all suffered since!!

Best wishes to all of you,
Annie xx