Bone consists of a resilient protein framework strengthened by calcium and phosphate deposits. While people often think of bone as lifeless and unchanging, it is actually a living tissue, supplied with nerves and blood vessels, that is continually being broken down and rebuilt. Bone can be weakened by nutritional and hormonal factors and by certain long-term disorders.
This section starts by discussing the bone disorder osteoporosis, which is common in elderly people. This disorder affects the natural processes of bone breakdown and replacement, causing bones to become brittle and fracture more easily. The section also covers the other main disorders that affect bone formation, including osteomalacia and rickets, both of which are due to lack of vitamin D, and Paget’s disease of the bone, the cause of which has yet to be established. Kyphosis, lordosis, and scoliosis, bone disorders that affect the curvature of the spine, are described next. Further articles discuss the bone infection osteomyelitis and noncancerous and cancerous tumours of the bones. Defects in the bone marrow are covered elsewhere in the guide (see Blood disorders).
For more information on the structure and function of bone, see The Backbone.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.