Bone & Muscle Health

Bone & Muscle Health Articles

Metastatic bone cancer

Some types of cancer begin in the bones. These true "bone cancers" include osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Ewing tumor, and others. Most cancers that affect the bones, though, begin in some other organ or tissue and spread (metastasize) to the bones. This is called metastatic bone cancer. After the lungs and liver, the skeleton is the most common destination for cancers that arise in other parts of the body. The growth of cancer cells in bones can cause pain or broken bones. Pain that occurs without physical activity is especially worrisome. More »

Bone spurs

Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are outgrowths of bone that develop along the edges of bones, often where two or more bones meet. They can form in the back, hip, sole or heel of the foot, spine, neck, shoulder, or knee. Most bone spurs are caused by tissue damage brought on by osteoarthritis. Many are silent, meaning they cause no symptoms and only detected by an x-ray or other test for another condition. Others cause problems and require treatment. If a spur breaks off from the bone, it can linger in the joint or get stuck in the lining of the joint. Such wandering bone spurs are called loose bodies. A loose body can make it feel like you can't move a joint. This "locking" can come and go. More »

Bunions and bunionettes

Bunions are among the most common causes of painful toes. A bunion is a misalignment of the bones in the foot. This occurs when something causes the big toe to turn inward, bending toward (or even under) the other toes. The medical term for bunion—hallux valgus deformity—is a literal description of the condition. "Hallux" is Latin for big toe, "valgus" is Latin for misalignment. A bunionette is a similar condition that affects the base of the baby toe. It is sometimes called a "tailor's bunion," because tailors once sat cross-legged all day, with the outer sides of their feet rubbing on the ground. Bunions plague more than half of all American women, and a quarter of men. They are twice as common among people over age 60, compared with younger adults. More »

Multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a kind of bone marrow cancer. It is caused by the uncontrolled growth of a type of white blood cell known as plasma cells. Plasma cells make antibodies called immunoglobulins to fight infections. In multiple myeloma, cancerous plasma cells multiply rapidly in the bone marrow. They eventually invade the outer layers of the bones. This can weaken bones so much that even a small injury can cause a bone to break. The cancerous plasma cells also make a lot of immunoglobulins. This can cause the blood to become thick and sticky, and lead to the formation of blood clots. At the same time, blood levels of other antibodies drop, leaving the person open to infections. More »

Best ways to keep your bones healthy and strong

Keeping bones healthy in older age is crucial to protecting mobility and independence. One way to do that is with weight-bearing activity each week. That includes strength training or any activity that gets a person up and moving. Another way is meeting calcium requirements: 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) per day for men ages 51 and older, and 1,200 to 1,500 mg per day for women 51 and older. Vitamin D is helpful for calcium absorption, typically 800 to 1,000 IU daily for adults. Reducing risk factors for osteoporosis, such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, is also important.    (Locked) More »

Osteopenia: When you have weak bones, but not osteoporosis

Like their names suggest, osteopenia and osteoporosis are related diseases. Both are varying degrees of bone loss, as measured by bone mineral density, a marker for how strong a bone is and the risk that it might break. If you think of bone mineral density as a slope, normal would be at the top and osteoporosis at the bottom. Osteopenia, which affects about half of Americans over age 50, would fall somewhere in between. The main way to determine your bone density is to have a painless, noninvasive test called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) that measures the mineral content of bone. The measurements, known as T-scores, determine which category — osteopenia, osteoporosis, or normal — a person falls into (see graphic). More »