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What Are the Different Types of Skeletal Disorder?

An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis.
Scoliosis is a disorder characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine.
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  • Written By: M.R. Anglin
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2014
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A skeletal disorder is anything that stops the skeletal system from functioning in the way it should. The purpose of a skeleton is to protect organs and to support the body. If any skeletal disorder interrupts the skeleton’s function, the result can be loss of mobility, pain, and deformities. A skeletal disorder can be caused by trauma, pathogens, old age, and in some cases, the body’s own immune system. Some of the different types of skeletal disorders include fractures, osteoporosis, arthritis, rickets, and scoliosis.

Many children have experienced a fracture, that is, a broken bone. Fractures can be classified in many ways, including open fractures, compound fractures, and comminuted fractures. Open fractures are those that are broken clean through but do not pierce the skin, while compound fractures break the skin. If the bone is broken in several places at once, it is called a comminuted fracture. A fracture can also be the result of another of the skeletal disorders, osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis results when the body has insufficient calcium and steals the calcium from the bones. The result is that the bones lose density, become brittle, and break easily. Many times, osteoporosis is the result of a woman reaching menopause. After a a person reaches his or her late 20s, calcium cannot be absorbed into his bones any more. It is important, then, for a person to eat a calcium-rich diet as well as one rich in vitamin D so that there is enough calcium for the body to function properly.

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Another skeletal disorder is arthritis. Arthritis is an ailment that inflames the joints. There are different types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage is worn down and the bones start to rub against each other. A person has rheumatoid arthritis when his immune system starts to attack his joints.

The lack of vitamin D can result in another skeletal disorder, rickets. Rickets occurs when there is not enough calcium, vitamin D, or phosphorus in a child’s body. The lack of enough vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorus can cause the body to steal it from the bones, resulting in bones that are weak. Some symptoms of the disease are a delay of teeth development or bowed legs. In the United States, the addition of vitamin D in the milk supply has helped to reduce the occurrence of rickets effectively.

There are also different disorders that occur to the spine. The spine is made up out of several bones, called vertebrae, and forms the backbone of an individual. Some skeletal disorders can cause the spine to curve in unnatural ways. Scoliosis occurs when the spine curves from side to side. When the spine curves more inward than is natural, it is called lordosis. Lastly, the spine can also curve outward in a deformity called kyphosis, resulting in a hunchback.

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