35 Age Related Dysfunctions of the Skeletal System


Bursitis is a condition in which bursea become inflamed due injury, exercise, bacterial infection, or the deposition of crystals in the bursa.  Bursae are small sacs of synovial fluid located in the synovial joints of the body.  Normally they create cushion and reduce friction between tendons and bone.  Bursitis is characterized by pain when the joint is moved or when it is lain upon in bed.  Treatment is dependent on the cause of inflammation.  It may include antibiotics, aspiration of the inflamed bursa, or the injection of anti-inflammatory drugs.


Arthritis is one of the most common conditions affecting older people.  It is a general term referring to various types of inflammation or degenerative changes that occur in joints.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, but the specific causes of osteoarthritis are not well understood.  Osteoarthritis is a chronic inflammation that causes the articular cartilages covering the ends of the bones in the affected joint to degenerate gradually.  Osteoarthritis is characterized by pain in the joints.  This is due to bone spurs which form on the exposed ends of the bone after the articular cartilage degrades.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto immune disorder that is not strictly a disease of old people.  It can begin at any age, but rheumatoid arthritis is progressive and becomes more debilitating with age.  Rheumatoid arthritis begins with the inflammation of the synovial membrane causing pain.  Prolonged inflammation causes scare tissue to form which destroys the articular cartilage of the joint and bone beneath it.  Rheumatoid arthritis can become so severe that surgery may be necessary to repair the affected joints, and in some cases the diseased bone of the joint is removed and replaced with a prosthetic device.

Gouty Arthritis is an inherited condition most commonly affecting men beginning between the ages of 40 and 55.  Gouty arthritis is caused by excessive levels if uric acid in the blood.  The uric acid then crystalized in joints of the body.  The crystals often begin in the great toe but may also affect other joints.  As the crystals accumulate in the synovial joint they cause pain and swelling.  Attacks often subside after a few days but often chronically reappear every few weeks or months.  This chronic condition may eventually erode the cartilage and bone of the affected joint.  Individuals suffering from this condition are advised to reduce consumption of proteins and increase the consumption of carbohydrates.


Osteoporosis is a condition which affects many elderly people, particularly post-menopausal women.  The disease is car by the gradual increase in the resorption of bone while the rate of new bone formation remains normal.  External signs of the disease include diminished height and curvature of the spine.


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