Metabolic Bone Disorder
Metabolic bone diseases are disorders of bone strength usually caused by abnormalities of minerals (such as calcium or phosphorus), vitamin D, bone mass or bone structure, with osteoporosis being the most common. While bone loss does occur as a part of the normal aging process, there are many diseases, medications and conditions that can increase the risk of bone failure. When untreated, osteoporosis can lead to fragility fractures, bone deformities and serious disability.
In some cases, problems with the parathyroid glands can lead to bone disorders. These small glands are located in the neck and produce parathyroid hormone, or PTH. The job of PTH is to regulate calcium and phosphorus in the blood, as well as assist with blood clotting, enzyme synthesis and muscle function. There are many different kinds of parathyroid disease (primary, secondary, tertiary) for which our physicians can assist with diagnosis and treatment.
Metabolic Bone, Calcium and Parathyroid Disorders: What You Need to Know
- Men and women of all ages can suffer from skeletal disorders. The most common include osteoporosis, osteopenia, osteomalacia, vitamin D deficiency and parathyroid disorders.
- Those at high risk for bone loss and osteoporosis include older individuals, as well as those with small body size, history of fractures, steroid use, intestinal diseases, organ transplants and kidney disorders.
- Fragility fractures (breaking a bone when falling from standing height of less) that occur after menopause or in older men are not normal and should lead to a metabolic bone evaluation including bone density testing.
- Current screening recommendations indicate that women over age 65, men over age 70 and anyone age 50 or older who has had a fracture should undergo a DXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan.
- Bone density screening with DXA and laboratory testing is also is recommended for individuals with conditions that predispose them to bone loss such as hormonal prostate or breast cancer treatments, parathyroid or thyroid disorders, certain medications such as steroids, those with significant height loss, transplant patients and women who underwent menopause before age 45.
- The “building blocks” of bone include calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus and protein. Diseases or conditions that cause deficiencies in any of these things can lead to bone loss and fracture.
- Parathyroid gland hypersecretion may lead to brittle bones that fracture easily and stones in the urinary system.
- Parathyroid gland hyposecretion may lead to muscle tetany (involuntary muscle contraction), which is caused by low levels of calcium in plasma.
- The diagnosis and management of metabolic bone, calcium and parathyroid disorders can be complex and requires a partnership between the patient and endocrinologist to determine the appropriate treatment plan.