Everyday we walk, run, bend, climb stairs, but never once think about what makes it possible- the mechanism and functioning of the skeletal system. Our attention is usually drawn by it only when a musculo-skeletal disorder occurs, disrupting the normal quality of life.
Arthritis is considered to be a leading cause of disability in the world. While the U.S.A reported 42 million cases, India has over 13 million cases of arthritis reported every year. Yet, awareness about the causes and preventive measures remain inadequate.
Bones not only provide shape and support to the body but also protect many vital organs like the brain, heart, lungs and spinal cord. Bones also serve as a reservoir for calcium and phosphorous. In addition to this, bones of the spine (vertebra) contain red marrow (soft material filling the cavity of bones) which is involved in the formation of blood cells. Bones contain about 50% water and 50% solid material [mainly cartilage hardened due to inorganic salt (such as carbonate and phosphate) impregnation].
Formation and resorption of bone continues throughout the life and any condition that causes defective formation, increased resorption or inadequate mineralisation can result in various types of bone disorders. Cancers of lung, breast or prostate may also cause bone disease (due to metastasis). However, tumours arising from the bone itself (primary bone tumours) are less common.
Some common bone disorders include:
- Paget’s disease
- Cancer associated bone disease
There are around 170 rheumatic diseases, but all have one common feature: they usually affect the joints. Some of these diseases affect small joints, some large joints and in some joints of spine get affected. Besides joints, they may also involve related structures like muscles, tendons, and bursa (small bags of lubricating fluid that separate two or more muscles and tendons).
Some common joint disorders include: