Bone Problems

A Look At Several Common Bone Problems

Having bone problems is much less common than having muscle problems or problems with any of the body's internal organs. But bone problems, when present, can at times be serious and long lasting. It's worthwhile then to look into what some of the more common bone problems involve.

Usually when we experience pain or discomfort where a bone is located, the source of the pain will be a muscle, tendon or joint. Short of a bone fracture, we usually don't encounter bone problems that happen in an instant or even overnight. Many bone problems are present for years before detection, so prevention is all the more important in dealing with this type of disorder.

Aside from fractures, the more common bone problems are cancer that has spread to the bone, or is in the bone to begin with, osteomyelitis, where a bone has become infected, and osteoporosis, where the bones have lost calcium and other minerals and become thinner and weaker, or more brittle. If you are experiencing bone problems, especially pain, it's important to carefully note where the location of the pain is, when it occurs, and if there are any other symptoms being experienced at the time. An X-ray may not given an indication as to what is wrong in a bone, short of a fracture or a disfigurement, so other testing, including blood tests and bone scans may be needed to pinpoint exactly what bone problems may be present. Some bone problems, such as osteoporosis and some types of bone cancer, give little advance warning that anything is wrong.

Osteoporosis - Most bone problems are experienced by the more elderly in our population, and the overwhelming majority of these problems have to do with osteoporosis, a thinning and weakening of the bones. Women far outnumber men with respect to contracting this disease, with around 20% of those over age 50 having osteoporosis to some degree. What happens is the body continually absorbs old bone, while building new bone to replace it. As we age, there is a tendency for bone building to decline, but the body will still continue to absorb old bone. As a result, the bones begin to become thinner. A deficiency in minerals, especially calcium and phosphate can also contribute to both bone loss and a general weakening of the bones, making them more susceptible to fracture. The primary reason for bone loss though is a drop in estrogen in women and testosterone in men, as they become older. Certain medications and other disorders can also contribute on an onset of osteoporosis. Smoking and the intake of alcohol can be contributing factors as well.

Osteomyelitis - Though not nearly as common as osteoporosis, among the more common bone problems is that of osteomyelitis, an infection in the bone. Unlike osteoporosis, an onset of osteomyelitis usually is accompanied by various symptoms, including soreness or pain. Osteomyelitis can be classified as either acute or chronic. Since an infection is involved, bone pain due to osteomyelitis will often be accompanied by fever, nausea, and a general feeling of not being well. Swelling and inflammation can sometime be observed, depending of course on which bones are involved. The infection can start in the bone itself or can spread to the bone from nearby infected tissue. The usual cure is administration of antibiotics, either orally or intravenously. The prognosis for a positive outcome is usually quite good for acute osteomyelitis.

Chronic osteomyelitis can, on the other hand, be one of the more difficult bone problems to deal with. If the problem does not go away, surgery may eventually be required to remove dead bone, and in extreme cases, amputation may be necessary. Chronic osteomyelitis often sets in when an abscess has formed in the affected bone, and as a result there can often be complications lasting for a lengthy period of time.

When one considers the fact that one of the least troublesome of bone problems is a fracture, it's easy to see that bone problems in general need to be brought to the attention of a care provider at the earliest possible moment.