Bone diseases
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Bone disease is considered any affliction that involves the skeletal system. Bone diseases can be very serious, and require prompt and effective treatment. Bone diseases can be very painful and can rob the patient of mobility and independence.


Symptoms of bone disease vary by each disease, but can include symptoms such as frequent breaking, deformity, pain, limited range of motion, difficulty walking or walking distinctively different, dental problems, hearing loss, blue hue to the white area of the eyes, and headaches.


Some bone diseases are elusive to their causes. While causative factors vary by disease, many bone diseases are caused by genetic factors, viral infection, chemical abnormalities, and a lack of bone collagen, injuries, fractures, damage to blood vessels, excessive use of alcohol, or the long term use of certain medications.
Bone diseases
Image: Bone diseases


Risk factors for bone diseases can include chronic medication, blood disorders, disease, steroid use, radiation treatments or chemotherapy, pancreatitis, and heredity factors. Many patients who are diagnosed with bone diseases have no risk factors.


Young children are often not diagnosed with bone diseases until after the parents have been cleared of suspected child abuse. Children with multiple broken bones or more than two broken bones in a year are often immediately suspected victims of abuse. Often children with bone diseases are removed from the care of their parents before diagnosis is even considered. Diagnosing bone diseases require numerous tests such as bone scans, x-rays, blood tests, bone biopsies, CT scans, skin biopsies, ear, nose, and throat examinations, and magnetic resonance imaging. Some bone diseases, if severe, cause obvious physical deformities. These are typically diagnosed via physical examination and confirmed with simple testing like x-rays or bone scans or blood tests.

Bone diseases come with their own special set of complications. Living a life while breaking bones simply by doing everyday activities makes the world a dangerous place.

Children with bone diseases often develop adjustment and psychological issues relating to their bone disease and their inability to play as well as fears of the world. Other complication can include life threatening breaks, such as puncturing lungs with ribs, heart conditions, scoliosis, and hearing loss or brain injury.
Image: Bones


Treatment options may vary, and often depend on the patient’s age, overall health, extent of the disease, the patient’s ability to tolerate treatments, the expected progression of the disease, and the patient’s preference. Treatments may include surgical procedures to protect the bones from damage, deformity, or alignment issues, medications, physical therapy, joint replacement, wheelchair confinement, mobility assistance devices, splinting, bracing, rodding (the placement of rods alongside or even in the bone to allow for straight growth), core decompression (a procedure where the inner layer of the bone is removed), bone grafts (transplantation of healthy bone to assist the growth of unhealthy bone), chemotherapy, radiation, amputation when no other alternative is available, and fracture care.

Self care options include being careful to protect the bones and the bone structure, close monitoring of the heart, lungs, ears, and ability to hear, and exercising as possible and reasonable. Supportive care and emotional support are imperative, especially for children. Dietary health can seriously impact the general health or lack of health in a patient. Poor diet can contribute to symptoms and even contribute to the progression of the disease. Responding appropriately to pain can mean the difference between minor damage and severe damage. Pain is the body’s natural indicator that something is wrong.

Patients with even mild bone diseases need to respond to their painful symptoms. Self education is important, allowing the patient to fully understand their best treatment options and allowing them to be completely active in the decision making process.

Coping with bones disease is very difficult. Pain management alone can make a patient feel drowsy or unmotivated. Family support is imperative as is psychological support. Bone diseases can restrict movement and independence, and many bone disease patients actually qualify for assistance dogs. Assistance dogs and other methods of promoting independence can improve self esteem, as well as open options that bone disease patients may not have ever had previously. Working closely with doctors, mental health professionals, and family members to find activities and independence promoting devices and ideas that can keep a family member with a bone disease as active and participatory as possible.
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