Bone Myths & Truths

January 12, 2013

Busting the myths about bones and joints

Many widely-held beliefs about bone and joint health turn out to be falsehoods or half-truths. Here’s a look at some of the popular myths, and the facts that prove them wrong.
We live in an age of free-flowing information that comes at the click of a mouse. That’s a good thing for the most part, but it some-times adds to the challenge of separating the truth from everything else. A look at the facts will demonstrate that some of the most widely-believed myths simply aren’t true.

1. A bone fracture is less serious than a broken bone

Many people believe that a bone fracture is a less serious event than a broken bone. In reality, the two are identical. Severe fractures can result in a bone breaking into two or more separate pieces. Minor fractures involve a crack in a bone that remains intact, sometimes called a hairline fracture.

The types and degrees of fractures are numerous, but each and every one involves a bone that has been broken and should be examined by a doctor to assess the damage and repair the break.

2. After bones are fully developed, they don’t change

The model skeletons that helped us learn as kids never changed, but for real fully-grown adults, bones have the capacity to change throughout our lives. Their ever-changing nature can be attributed to osteoblasts, the cells responsible for generating bone mass.

Osteoblasts react when bones come under stress. They help boost bone strength to counter the stress, especially in and around the joints where the stress is concentrated. Weight-bearing exercise such as moderate jogging is an effective way to help stimulate bone production. This helps lower the risk of osteoporosis and promotes faster recovery for patients with osteoporosis-related problems.

3. Osteoporosis is a painful bone condition

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes loss of bone mass. But unless a bone has fractured, osteoporosis doesn’t cause pain.

Osteoporosis can go undetected for years. Without causing any noticeable symptoms, it gradually eats away at bones. Detecting osteoporosis is done using a bone densitometry scan – a test advised for adults beginning at age 40. The scan is an important element in osteoporosis prevention and earlier detection.

4. Arthritis is a disease for old people

While our arthritis risk increases as we age, seniors don’t have a monopoly on the disease. This painful joint condition can strike children, teenagers and adults of all ages.

It’s true that arthritis can result from the gradual deterioration of joints after years of over-use and wear-and-tear. But arthritis has many types and multiple possible causes – rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, accidents, infections, etc. – none of which discriminate based on age.

5. People with arthritis have to stop doing . . .

Arthritis patients can encounter challenges carrying on some of their normal activities, but treating them as helpless or powerless is not the answer.

The best way to care for someone with arthritis is give attentive care. Avoid being over-protective so as not to encourage the patient becoming too dependent – a situation that can affect the physical and mental well-being of patients and caretakers alike.
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