Bone diseases and their treatment

Age is often unkind to our bones. Here are some problems you should watch out for and protect against in the passing years

COMMON BONE DISEASES

Osteoporosis

Old man with bone painIn this condition, our bone mass decreases [bones do not get optimal amounts of calcium and other minerals] and the bone structure deteriorates. A reduced bone mass weakens the bones such that they may break, or can fracture easily with a fall or impact. Unfortunately, there are no prior signs or symptoms of this condition and often a fateful event leads to its discovery. Good news: osteoporosis can be prevented, diagnosed and treated.

Arthritis

When one or more joints get inflamed, it is called arthritis. A number of bone diseases come under the umbrella of arthritis: autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid and soriatic arthritis; septic arthritis [caused by infection in the joints]; and osteoarthritis [in which joints degenerate].

Plantar fasciitis

The inflammation of the plantar fascia [thick band of tissue covering the bones on the bottom of the foot], causing heel pain and difficulty to walk is called 'plantar fasciitis'. The disorder is common in people who use their feet for prolonged periods like runners or dancers.

Fibromyalgia

This a chronic illness with symptoms of pain and fatigue from head to toe, which is diagnosed as a syndrome. It is sometimes categorised as primary or secondary. There is no cure yet for fibromyalgia, but with proper treatment patients can lead a normal life.

Avascular necrosis

In this condition, a diminished blood supply leads to bone deterioration. It usually affects the upper part of the leg bone that attaches into your hip, ankle, shoulder and elbow.

Fibrous dysplasia

In this chronic condition, some cells begin to form an abnormal type of fibrous bone. Gradually, this fibrous bone weakens the area of the bone, causing pain. It can even fracture the bone or lead to further deformity.

Osteogenesis imperfecta

Also known as the brittle-bone disease, in this disorder, due to genetic defects the body is unable to make strong bones. Hence, the bones break easily and without a cause.

Osteomalacia

Insufficient mineral supply or an osteoblast dysfunction affects the bone protein matrix—osteoid—causing bones to become soft. Since it is mostly hereditary, most causes of this disorder appear during childhood and cause rickets.

Osteomyelitis

It is a bone infection caused by bacteria. Often the infection travels to the bone through the blood from other infected areas in the body. Symptoms include severe pain, fever and chills, feeling tired or nauseated, or have a general unwell feeling. Sometimes the skin covering the infected bone becomes sore, red, and swollen.

Paget's disease

Found usually in people above 40 years of age, this is a chronic disease of the skeleton often partially or fully affecting one or many bones. It usually affects the spine, pelvis, long bones of the limbs, and skull.

Gout

Excess uric acid in the body leads to the formation of tiny crystals of urate that deposit in tissues of the body, especially the joints, causing gout. The crystals logged into the joints inflame the joint [arthritis]. Chronic gout can also lead to deposits of hard lumps of uric acid in and around the joints and may cause joint destruction,decreased kidney function, and kidney stones.

Apart from orthopaedic conditions, some bone cancers like chondrosarcoma, ewings sarcoma, myeloma bone disease, multiple myeloma, and osteosarcoma too affect bones seriously.

TREATMENT OPTIONS

Usually, doctors treat a bone condition with medication, balanced food, exercise and yoga. If all else fails, they suggest surgery. Some common surgical procedures include:

  • Osteotomy: A procedure to reduce stress on the bone by reshaping it
  • Bone grafting: The process of transplanting a healthy bone from another part of the body to the affected area.
  • Unicompartmental knee resurfacing and hip resurfacing: Advanced joint preservation techniques, performed in cases where the damage is restricted so that the rest of the joint can be preserved.
  • Hip/knee replacement: Complex surgery in which the entire damaged joint is replaced with a new one. Advances in medical science have given way to computer-assisted, less invasive surgical methods.
  • Core decompression: A procedure to remove the inner layer of bone to reduce pressure and allow for increased blood flow, and slow or stop bone and/or joint destruction.

Prevention is better

Lack of exercise and a proper diet, aggravates ageing and makes the body more prone to diseases.

    Avoiding falls

  • Keep a dim light on at night so that you are able to see in the dark.
  • Sit in bed for a minute and move your legs, before getting out of bed to ease stiffness.
  • Wear your spectacles for you to see things clearly.
  • Keep the passage to the bathroom clear of things that could trip you. Often, this is the most common cause of fall.
  • Wipe the bathroom dry before going to bed.
  • Install a railing in bathroom to hold.
  • Use a walker or walking stick if you have imbalance due to any reason.
  • Use a urine bottle or condom drain at night [for male members] to pass urine than go to the bathroom.
    Following a healthy lifestyle

  • Include lots of green leafy vegetables in your food
  • Avoid skipping meals
  • Eat in small portions so that food is digestible
  • Go for regular morning walks
  • Ensure a sufficient dosage of milk and dairy products
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking
  • Avoid excess salt in diet.

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C J Thakkar
C J Thakkar practices at Breach Candy and Lilavati Hospital. He is a pioneer in Computer Navigation Joint Replacement Surgery in India and has been performing these surgeries since 2002. He is also the president of A.O. Alumni Association, India and has delivered lectures and conducted workshops across India and at Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Bangkok.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Infact, is very good to know how to prevent diseases than to wait and find a cure.the bone is the foundation and the pillers of the body, so always adviceable to take good care of it. Thank you

  2. Yogasana–the exercise originated in India is very effective. Bone diseases need good exercise. Pranayama is also very good. One must take care from the very young age. Your article is very good and quite informative. Thank you.

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