The Aging Process of the Skeletal System

There are about 206 bones in the human body, they have the function of protecting and preserving the shape of soft tissues. The skeleton provides a framework for the muscles, it controls and directs internal pressure and provides stability anchoring points for other soft tissues. In addition the skeletal system stores and produces blood cells in the bone marrow(1).

After the age of 30 bones start to deteriorate, which means our bone density will decrease, bones will become thinner and more fragile, bones will start to lose calcium and other minerals, posture will become progressively hunched over, joints will come inflamed and less flexible, joints will also become stiff due to mineral deposits

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Skeletal Changes from Childhood to Adulthood:(2)

A. Infancy and Childhood

  • change size and proportion
  • growth in length is cartilage of epiphyseal disc
  • growth hormone plays a major role
    • it stimulates cartilage
  • thyroid hormone
    • head becomes proportionally smaller
    • facial bones become more prominent
    • pelvis larger and wide
    • legs proportionally longer
    • vertebral colunm develops two addtional curves
      • cervical curve- 3months; lifts head
      • lumbar- 1 year; standing and walking

B. Puberty

  • sex hormones stimulate ossification
      • epiphyseal closure
  • facial features develop rapidly
    • producing masculine and feminine features of the skeleton
      • male- deep anf funnel shaped
        • whole skeleton larger and heavier
      • female- shallow, broader and flaring

C. Adulthood (bone maintenance and remodeling)

  • bones are constantly adapting to stresses
    • reaction to mechanical stresses strengthens weak areas
    • old bone is removed to reduce bulk
    • minerals are added or removed from reservoir as Calcium is metabolized
      • 99% of the body's Calcium is in bone
    • two hormones involved
      • PTH
        • stim bone destruction (osteoclasts)
      • Calcitonin
        • stim bone formation (osteoblasts)

D. Old Age

  • reabsorption outweighs growth
    • bones become brittle causing a desease called osteoporosis
  • shaggy margins, spurs, joint problems
  • cartilage keeps growing

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Individual Aging Process

Maintaining a Healthy Skeletal System

Bone mass is a important to the health of the skeletal system. Certain nutrients are need to improve bone mass. These nutrients include: calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D and protein. Eat and drinking food like milk, eggs, lean meats, yogurt, apples, oranges, grapefruit, spinach, and broccoli will help increase bone mass.

Edited by Deborah Logan