You and Your Bones
Matthew “Bones” Jones, M.D.
The human body has 206 bones and 600 muscles. Bone growth occurs at the ends of the bone, or the “growth plates.” These are not calcified (hardened) until growth ceases, so they’re susceptible to injury and improper growth.
About 90% of bone growth is complete by age 18, and bone loss begins at about age 30. The young person that includes 1500 mg of calcium in the diet and avoids carbonated beverages builds bone density and helps prevent osteoporosis in the later years. Growing bones are more flexible in childhood, but too much force causes a fracture – a crack, a chip, or a complete break in the bone. About 50% of children sustain a fracture, usually of a finger, forearm, collar bone, foot or elbow.
When a broken bone pierces the skin, it is called an “open fracture” and needs surgery soon due to the high risk of infection. Like almost all other body parts, bone has blood vessels and nerves that bleed and hurt when broken. An ice pack reduces pain because it constricts blood vessels to decrease bleeding, swelling, and inflammation. Also, ice causes the nerves to send a cold signal instead of a pain signal.
Bones are linked together at flexible joints. A “dislocation” occurs when bones slip out of a joint. The ends of each bone are cushioned by pads of smooth rubbery “cartilage.” As sections of cartilage are worn away, the bone ends rub against each other, and create the pain of “osteoarthritis.” Common joints affected are the ones that bear the most weight – the hips, knees and spine. A slippery synovial membrane produces fluid to lubricate the joint.
Movement is created by the muscles. Your brain sends signals along nerves to a muscle, telling it to contract. Muscle contraction then pulls the bones, creating movement. Gradual increase in frequency and intensity of exercise works the muscles to make them bigger and more powerful. Adolescent hormones are needed for large muscle development. Warm ups get blood flowing to muscles and ligaments to make them more flexible to prevent injury, and improve the athlete’s reaction time.
A muscle stretched when it is not warmed up, overstretched from excessive force, or not rested, can tear. Swelling and even some bleeding may be noticed. This is strain, commonly called a pulled muscle. Muscles of the neck, back, thigh, or calf are commonly strained. Muscle cramps are painful, involuntary contraction, and usually caused by dehydration.
Each muscle is connected to the bone by a strong cord-like tissue called a “tendon.” The largest of the tendons is the “Achilles Tendon,” which attaches the heel bone to the bottom of the calf muscle. “Tendinitis” occurs when tendons become fatigued from overuse.
During periods of rapid growth, the bones grow faster than the muscles and tendons, so these tight muscles must lengthen to keep up with bone growth. Tighter muscles pull on the tendons that attach to the bone. Gentle stretching can decrease the pain.
Bones are held together by strong tissue bands called ligaments. They limit the range of motion of the bones. A ligament stretched beyond its limit is a “sprain.” A torn ligament causes the joint to be loose. Ankles are very common locations for sprains.
If you are experiencing pain or problems, please consult a medical professional today or make an appointment to see one of Azalea’s specialists via the Patient Portal.