MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: Diseases of the bones

Area: Anatomy
Posted By: Scott Dietert, M.D. Pathology/Anatomy, retired
Date: Sun Mar 9 22:13:24 1997

Dear Ariana:

The skeletal system which is composed of bones (still immature in children) suffers from the same types of diseases (note sp..) that affect the body's other systems, that is:

1) Bacterial infections: called osteomyelitis when the infection is in the bone.
2) Non-infectious inflammation such as rheumatoid arthritis
3) Degeneration associated with an old injury or normal aging - called osteoarthritis
4) Metabolic disease: an example is gout, a disorder of uric acid metabolism in the body. The disorder can cause painful collections of uric acid crystals in the joints.
5) Cancer of the bone marrow (where white and red blood cells are made): leukemia (sp. white-blood cells and precursors).
6) Cancers of the bone itself: osteosarcoma
6) Inherited/genetic diseases which affect bones: achondroplasia is, one example, resulting in the achondroplastic dwarf, unfortunately, often exploited by unscrupulous circus promotions.
7) Injury or trauma: producing fractures or bone breaks.

Also osteoporosis - a loss of bone mass over time, leading to weak bones that are more subject to fractures and damage. The disease is most commonly seen in older caucasian women who have passed menopause.

Excluding fractures, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis the remaining conditions are not seen very often. Because bones are located near the center of the body and its extremities, these diseases may be difficult to detect and their limited blood supply enables them to resist treatment, especially when treating infections with antibiotics. Bone diseases are always serious, because they are often slow to heal, they may reccur, and they generally result in immediate discomfort and disability, since the skeleton's function is to provide support and assist with motion for a large body mass.

I don't want to sound like a cereal commercial, but wholesome food, plenty of outdoor excercise (including sports), and adequate rest each night contributes to strong healthy bones and muscles. These steps remain best way to prevent disease and maintain wellness!! Treatment involves appropriate medicine, surgery, dietary supplements, excercise, and physical therapy depending on the disease involved and the age of the patient.

Good luck in your life-long learning!

Scott Dietert

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