Posted on: 27 September 2016
The human body can withstand an immense amount of pressure and stress, especially when it comes to the skeletal system itself. While the size and shape of the bone in question matters, a cubic square of human bone is estimated to be able to withstand up to 19,000 pounds of pressure per square inch - up to four times stronger than most concrete. It is for this reason that many go through life without ever experiencing a complex fracture or serious dislocation. This fact also means that when a single patient experiences multiple injuries, especially within a short period of time, it is far more likely that there is a comorbid health problem at play. In this article, you'll learn about two conditions that can cause human bone to become weak and prone to injury.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, frequently known as EDS to patients, refers to a collection of diseases that affect the body's connective tissue. Everything from skin to bones and even the venous structure can be impacted. At its core, the term refers to a lack of collagen, most often caused by a genetic defect. Connective tissue is inherently too elastic, stretchy, and prone to breaking down, including the joints themselves.
Patients who suffer from moderate to severe forms of Ehlers-Danlos are much more likely to experience frequent dislocations, subluxations, and fractures because of the lack of collagen. In severe cases, even picking up a heavy object or leaning on an elbow too firmly can result in subluxations.
Getting diagnosed with EDS isn't always easy. Because some patients experience only minimal symptoms, they may go years being misdiagnosed, or simply be considered clumsy and ungainly. Stretchy, loose skin on the back of the hands and around the face is just one symptom of this disease. The Beighton Score is used by doctors to identify if you have hypermobile joints, either naturally or due to EDS, and is thus often the first step in getting properly diagnosed.
A word of caution: If you suspect you may have a connective tissue disorder, do not attempt to self-test via the Beighton Score on your own. This test should always be guided by a physician for safety reasons. Self-guided testing is often incorrect and may even spur on sudden dislocations if done incorrectly.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for EDS. However, bracing and physical therapy can help to strengthen joints, and this may help to reduce your risk for dislocations throughout life. Often, lifestyle modifications are also required.
When most people think of osteoporosis, they picture elderly women with a hunched-over posture, but this isn't entirely accurate, as osteoporosis can and does affect both men and women as young as 40. Osteoporosis is a condition that refers to a loss of bone density; this is often gradual over time. The loss of density makes bones more fragile and prone to fracture, particularly low-grade hairline fractures. A person with osteoporosis is more likely to break a bone during everyday activities and mishaps, such as bumping a hip on the edge of a counter or falling from standing height.
An inability to absorb calcium is at the heart of this condition, but simply lacking a diet rich in calcium isn't the only cause. Being pre- or postmenopausal is also a risk factor, as is taking steroid medications or anticonvulsants for long periods of time. Some research also identifies a link between opiate medications like methadone and morphine with bone density loss.
Osteoporosis is also hereditary, so if you have a mother, father, or grandparent with the disease, you are much more likely to suffer from it yourself.
Getting diagnosed with osteoporosis is extremely important. Treatment options do exist, and if caught early, the bone loss can often be halted completely. If you have multiple risk factors and have been experiencing frequent fractures, see your doctor and ask about osteoporosis, especially if you are over the age of 30. He or she can book you in for a test called a bone density scan, either via a dual X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan or via quantitative computed tomography (QCT). These tests are quick, easy, and painless, and are the best way to detect the disease early on.
If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor can provide you with a prescription for medication that may help. Adding calcium supplements to your diet is also recommended. Guided exercise with the help of a physical therapist can also be beneficial.
If you are currently recovering from a surgical correction of a fracture or dislocation, and are curious whether these two diseases may be impacting your health, start by making an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon at a location such as Gotham City Orthopedics. He or she is qualified to guide you through the diagnoses as well, and can provide you with suitable advice for safe, healthy exercises and supplements to take during your recovery.Share