You are at a museum and see a real skeleton or fossil of a tyrannosaurus rex (T-Rex) dinosaur. While examining and reading about it, you may think to yourself that all bones are dead and extinct, just like the dinosaur itself. Although the bones in museums may be dry, hard, or crumbly, the bones in the human body are different. The 206 bones that make up our skeletons are very much alive, growing, and changing all the time.
Your skeleton, made up of robust and tough bones, is like a living organ. Think of your bones as a bank account where you “deposit” or “withdraw” money. With some people, new bone is added to our skeleton faster than old bone being reabsorbed. This is a condition called osteopenia, occurring when the body doesn’t make new bone as quickly as it reabsorbs old bone. As a result of this, our bones become larger, heavier, and denser.
Bones are constantly being amended with old bone, and new bone is always being formed. According to research, it takes about 10 years for all the bone in your body to be renewed. This is why paying attention to the health of your bones is important throughout all stages of life.
Yes, again, it cannot be stressed enough, the health of your bones is crucial. That is why you may have heard your parents, or commercials on television, always saying to “drink milk,” as calcium will help give you strong bones. The bone mass preserved in your childhood and adolescent years is significant, as this may be a determinant of lifelong skeletal health, because as we grow throughout life, from childhood to adulthood, so do our bones. The health habits we form early on, can make, or literally break, our bone health as we age.
The mineral calcium helps your muscles, nerves, and cells function normally. Your body needs calcium and phosphorus to make healthy bones, as calcium mainly stores itself in the bones throughout the body.
However, your body is not the creator of calcium. Calcium comes from the food we eat, what we drink, and from other supplements you may take in addition. Therefore, it is simple, if you do not get enough calcium in your diet, or if your body does not absorb enough calcium, your bones will become weak, or worse, will not grow properly. Therefore, conditions such as osteoporosis can develop.
Osteoporosis, which means porous bones in Greek, is a disease characterized by having a diagnosis of low bone density, which results due to deterioration of bone tissue. Bone density refers to how much calcium and other minerals are present in a section of your bones. Bone density happens to be at its highest between ages 25 and 35, but naturally goes down as you get older. In this case, people suffering from osteoporosis, due to their low bone mass/density, can have brittle, fragile bones that can break easily, even without injury. The fragility and brittleness makes people with this condition highly susceptible and prone to fracturing their bones.
Osteoporosis affects approximately 10 million Americans, a majority of that percentage being women. People with osteoporosis are prone to fracturing their bones due to their bones having a low bone mass, in other words, loss of bone tissue. This in return, causes weak and fragile bone structure. Research shows that genetics plays a major role in osteoporosis. If your family has a history of osteoporosis or broken bones, you may be more at risk for developing the disease.
Bone loss can occur without symptoms, and therefore, osteoporosis has been referred to as the “silent” disease. Thus, it is important to talk to your orthopedic surgeon, so that they can administer and tailor a treatment plan for you.
Each year, millions of Americans learn how devastating osteoporosis can be. With over 34 million people living with osteopenia (A condition that occurs when the body doesn’t make new bone as quickly as it reabsorbs old bone), and having an increased risk for developing osteoporosis later in life, the development of this disease can be life changing.
If you are not sure if you are at risk for osteoporosis, and if you think you may have the condition, Advanced Bone & Joint can help. For your individualized osteoporosis screening, call Advanced Bone & Joint at (636) 229-4222 or you can request an appointment online.