The Human Skeleton
The human skeleton consists of many fused and individual bones. It serves as the framework, which anchors muscles, and protects organs such as the brain, heart and lungs. The biggest bone in the body is the femur in the thigh and the smallest is the stapes bone in the middle ear. In an adult, the skeleton comprises around 30 to 40% of the total body weight one-half of which is water.
When you are young, your body adds bone faster than it is removed, after the mid 20s in most people; you begin loosing bone faster than your body makes it unless you take measures to prevent this. A good diet, exercise and an intake of calcium and vitamin d will help to keep your bones healthy
Diseases of Bones
Many diseases can affect the bones; there are various reasons for the cause of disease. Osteoporosis can make your bones weak and more likely to break, Osteogenesis imperfecta makes bones brittle, Paget's disease makes bones grow larger and weaker and of course, there is bone cancer and bone infections.
Osteoporosis makes your bones weak and more likely to break. Any person can develop osteoporosis, but it is most common in older women. It is calculated that as many as one-half of all women, and one quarter of men older than 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Risk factors include; age, small size, having a family history of osteoporosis, certain medications and being a Caucasian or Asian female.
Postmenstrual Osteoporosis is another variation of the disease. It is the most common form of the disease. Humans have cells that remove old bone and other cells that rebuild new bone. This is an ongoing process and is part of what keeps your bones strong. When you have postmenopausal osteoporosis, bone-removing cells cause you to lose bone at a rate that is too fast. The 5-7 years after menopause the bone loss can be up to 20%.
Osteogenesis imperfecta is a genetic disease that makes bones break easily. Sometimes the bones break for no known reason. Osteogenesis imperfecta can also cause weak muscles, brittle teeth or a curved spine. The cause is a gene defect that affects how your body makes collagen, a protein that helps make bones strong. Usually it is inherited from a parent. Occasionally, it is due to a mutation.
Osteogenesis symptoms can vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. A person might have as many as several hundred fractures in a lifetime.
Paget's disease causes your bones to grow larger and weaker than normal. Bones may break easily and it can lead to arthritis and hearing loss. Paget's disease is most common in the spine, pelvis, skull and legs. The disease might affect one or several bones, but not the entire skeleton. It is most common in older men. It is unknown why this disease starts, but is presumed to be a virus and may be inherited. The symptoms might include, pain, enlarged bones, broken bones and damaged cartilage or joints. Surgery is an option for treatment, but the best preventative solution is a good diet and exercise.
Bone cancer is rare and usually it starts in other parts of the body and migrates to the bones. The three most common types are:
*Osteosarcoma, which develops in growing bones, usually between ages 10 and 25, it is the most common type of bone cancer and is one of the few that starts in the bones. It can metastasize to other parts of the body including the lungs. It commonly starts from the osteoblasts that are the cells that make bones grow. This is why it is common in teens going through growth spurts.
*Ewing's sarcoma is a cancer that begins in the nerve tissue in bone marrow of young people. It commonly begins during puberty and is uncommon in African-American, African, and Chinese children. The tumor may arise any ware but is most common in the long bones of the arms and legs. The symptoms are few but include pain and possibly swelling. Treatment can include Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and or surgery.
*Chondrosarcoma; which typically starts in the cartilage of the femur, arm, pelvis, knee or spine is usually found in older people over age 50. It is the second most common type of bone cancer. Symptoms include swelling, a large lump or mass and severe pain. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The best defense against bone disease is to eat a healthy diet with the proper amounts of calcium and get plenty of exercise. The genetic portion of the issue is always under study and much progress is being made in this area.