Diseases of the Skeletal System:
With every organ system there are some potential diseases or diorders that can occur, but what are some of the diseases involved with the skeletal system?
Although a fracture is not necessarily a disease of the bones, it is something that can happen to damage the system. A fracture is simply a broken bone, and there are different types of fractures based on the extent of damage to the bone.
- Simple (closed): A simple fracture is when the broken parts are still in the normal position and the surrounding tissues have very minimal damage.
- Compound (open): A compound fracture is when the broken end of the bone in an open fracture is moved and the skin is pierced. As well, there may be excessive damage to the surrounding blood vessels, nerves and muscles.
- Greenstick: A greenstick fracture is when the bone breaks longitudinally.
- Comminuated: A comminuated fracture is when one or more intersecting breaks created several bone fragments.
- Impacted: An impacted fracture is when the two broken ends of the bone are forced together. With an impacted fracture bone fragments may be created.
- Pathologic (spontaneous): A pathologic fracture is when the bone breaks with no apparent trauma. This type of fracture may be related to bone disorders like osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disorder, which means the bones start to lose function. In normal bones the calcium that is taken from the bones is replaced at an equal rate so the calcium levels are maintained. When somebody has osteoporosis calcium is taken from the bones faster than it is replaced. There are a few environmental factors that contribute to this disorder; smoking, insufficient calcium in the diet, inactivity or lack of sex hormones. This disorder is most common in elderly women because with menopause the estrogen levels decrease sharply. When calcium from the bones is lost, the bones become thin and brittle which makes fractures more likel to occur. If you stay exercising and keep a sufficient amount of calcium in your diet, you are less likely to get osteoporosis.
Herniated Disc (Slipped Disc)
A herniated disc, or a slipped disc, is when extreme pressure is placed on a disc (made of fibrous tissue and separates the vertebrae). When this happens nucleus pulposus (the soft center of the disc that is responsible for shock absorption) puts pressure on the spinal nerve. This is very painful and can impair function in the muscles that the nerve supplies. A slipped disc can occur if someone lifts a heavy object with their back instead of their legs. If the damage to the disc is not too severe the disc can heal naturally, but sometimes surgery is needed to remove the disruptive nucleus pulposus.
Abnormalities of the Spine
- Scoliosis: Scoliosis is a disorder of the spine where it has an abnormal curve from side to side. Scoliosis may be present from birth. Can be the result of having one leg longer than the other or from having chronic poor posture as a child when the vertebrae are still growing. A lot of times with scoliosis the rib cage is placed to one side because the thoracic vertebrae are affected. In very extreme cases of scoliosis the abdominal organs are compressed and the expansion of the rib cage during inhalation is inhibited.
- Kyphosis: A more common name for kyphosis is hunchback. Kyphosis is the result of an exaggerated thoracic curve.
- Lordosis: A more common name for lordosis is swayback. Lordosis is the result of an exaggerated lumbar curve.
These abnormal curvatures of the spine are usually due to degenerative bone disorders such as osteoporosis. The damage to the vertebrae is very hard to correct.
Arthritis is the inflammation of joints, and there are many types, but there are only two that are really known.
- Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis usually occurs as people get older. The disorder occurs when the cartilage wears away from joints that have borne weight for many years. The joints become rough, stiff and painful. The joints that osteoarthritis usually occurs in includes the knees, hips and ankles.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis, unlike osteoarthritis, may begin in early middle aged people. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which means the immune system mistakingly attacks another part of the body. The cause of autoimmune diseases is not certain. Rheumatoid arthritis often starts in the fingers or other extremities. When rheumatoid arthritis occurs the joins become very stiff and painful because the synovial membrane is affected. In very very extreme cases of rheumatoid arthritis the joint may fuse together and will lose all mobility. As well, people with rheumatoid arthritis are more prone to heart attacks and strokes because the autoimmune damage may attack hearts and blood vessels. As of now there is no cure for autoimmune diseases.