Relevant diseases of the musculoskeletal system are arthrosis, discopathy and osteoporosis.
Arthrosis (cf. illustration)
The illustration schematically shows a normal joint (on the left) and an arthrosis (on the right). Bones are coloured grey, the articular cartilage red, the joint capsule dark grey and the synovial fluid yellow.
In the course of life progressive degenerations of the articular cartilage can often be found. The cartilage layer becomes thinner and defects of the cartilage arise. The degenerating joint
is more susceptible to irritations or inflammations and the articulating bones form appositions or osteophytes (coloured dark grey on the right part of illustration).
The mobility of the joints, the ability to use the limbs and the patient´s quality of life are substantially reduced.
Strategies of prevention are based on the following components:
- Avoidance of overstraining
- Normalization of the body weight
- Regular exercise in a well balanced way
- Training of the joint stabilizing muscles.
Damaged discs (cf. illustration)
The vertebral bodies (coloured grey) are separated from each other by intervertebral disks. The intervertebral disks consist of the fibrous, tight Lower´s ring (Anulus fibrosus, coloured red)
und the jelly-like Nucleus pulposus (coloured green). With an advancing age the content of water decreases in the intervertebral disks. Through this, elasticity and stability of the intervertebral disks are impaired.
The left part of the illustration shows a normal segment of the spinal column. Intervertebral disk protrusion and intervertebral disk prolapse with sequestrum, osseous osteophytes and
sclerosings are illustrated schematically on the right.
These degenerations may often cause acute and chronic pain, moreover neurological deficits in some cases.
Basal elements of prevention are:
- Avoidance of chronic overstraining
- Avoidance of raising of heavy loads
- Avoidance of long term uninterrupted sitting
- Good posture of the whole body, especially while sitting and walking
- Use of orthopedic furniture
- Regular alternation of sitting and staying if possible
- Regular walking
- Regular gymnastics for the porpose of stabilizing the muscles in back and abdomen
- Normalization of the body weight
- Nicotine abstinence (The circulation of the vertebral bodies and the nutrition of the intervertebral disks are impaired by smoking!)
Osteoporosis is characterized by a progressive decalcification of the bones. Osteoporosis can be detected by means of bone density measurement in early stages. In x-ray images an
osteoporosis is recognizable in an advanced stage.
Osteoporosis causes multilocular skeletal pains. The mechanical capacity of the bone is reduced, the fracture risk increases.
In women estrogen deficiency promotes an osteoporosis, in men deficiency of testosterone. The hormonal situation in women changes within about two years in the middle age. So in women
osteoporosis usually manifests itself around the 55-60th year of life. In men testosterone deficiencies arise slowly within many years; Osteoporosis in men therefore usually manifests itself
around the 70th year of life.
Strategies of prevention are based on several components:
- High portions of calcium in the nutrition, tablets supplemented with calcium and vitamin D on demand
- Physical activity
- Abstinence of nicotine
- Reduction of the consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
Copyright: Jörg Piper, MD, senior consultant, Clara-Viebig-Str. 4, D-56864 Bad Bertrich, Germany