The main purposes of our skeleton stages from childhood to adulthood.
Bone ossification, or osteogenesis, is the process of bone formation. The early development of the skeletal system begins in roughly the third week after conception, with the formation of the notochord. The notochord is a rod-like structure on the back of the embryo that later develops into the spine, spinal cord and brain. In the fourth week, the first signs of arms and legs start to show. Between the fifth and eighth weeks, the limbs (the arms, hands, and fingers, then the legs, feet, and toes) begin to extend and take shape.
A baby’s body is born with around 300 bones. These eventually fuse to form the 206 bones that adults have. Some of a baby’s bones are made entirely of cartilage, whilst other bones in a baby are only partly made of cartilage. During childhood, with the help of calcium, the cartilage grows and is slowly replaced by bone.
When do bones stop growing?
Longer bones stop growing at around the age of 18 in women and at the age of 21 in men in a process called epiphyseal plate closure. This is when cartilage cells stop dividing and all of the cartilage is replaced by bone!
How age affects our bones
As our bodies age, our muscles, joints and bones affect our posture and the way we walk, leading to weakness and a slowing down in movement. Bones lose mass or density as they age, most prominently in women after menopause. Vertebrae also lose mineral content, making bones thinner over time. Osteoporosis is a common problem, especially for older women. In osteoporosis, bone mineral density is reduced and the integrity of bone proteins is altered, increasing the risk of fracture.
Over 3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis and, according to Age UK, 1 in every 2 women and 1 in every 5 men over 50 years of age in the UK, will suffer a fractured bone due to poor bone health. There are often no indicators that one has osteoporosis until a weak bone is broken. Osteopathy and exercise may help with keeping bones strong and it is advised by the Royal Osteoporosis Society to co-ordinate weight-bearing exercises with muscle-strengthening exercises.
Osteoporosis is not a condition that just affects women, although this is a common misconception. The pathogenesis of osteoporosis is complex, and a different set of mechanisms may be operative in any given individual.
What are bones made of?
The surface of the bone is the periosteum. It’s a thin and dense membrane that contains nerves and blood vessels that help nourish the bone.
The layer underneath is compact bone. This is the part that gives skeletons their white-boned look.
Inside the compact bone, there are many layers of cancellous bone. Cancellous bone is not as hard as compact bone, but it is still strong.
The cancellous bone protects the inner part of the bone, the bone marrow – which makes blood cells.
Osteopaths at the Good Health Centre are highly trained and have the expertise to advise and guide you to better musculoskeletal health.
Your osteopath will apply specific gentle treatment appropriate to your age and condition to help you gain mobility and improve strength. In addition, your osteopath will provide you with a tailor-made exercise and movement programme which has shown to be effective in the management of osteoporosis.
For more details on osteopathy and how this may help with osteoporosis, please call one of the osteopaths based at our Leeds practice on 0113 2371173 or book online here.
For information provided by the Royal Osteoporosis Society, please visit here.
For information provided by AgeUK, please visit here.