You can keep your bones healthy by staying active and avoiding tobacco and alcohol, you may not realize it, but your bones are constantly changing and renewing themselves. In fact, you get a completely new skeleton every 10 years or so.
This amazing process is called remodelling and it happens throughout your life. We asked experts to explain how remodelling works and why it is important for your bone health.
Dr R A Purnachandra Tejaswi, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon with Special Interest in Sports Medicine, Reconstructive Arthroscopy and Joint Preservation Surgery, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad told indianexpress.com that remodelling involves removing old bones and replacing them with new ones. “About 20% of bone tissue is replaced annually by remodelling,” he said.
Dr Vaibhav Bagaria, Director, Department of Orthopaedics, Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital said that remodelling involves two types of cells: osteoblasts and osteoclasts. “Osteoblasts are responsible for building fresh new bone, while osteoclasts are responsible for breaking down the old senescent bone,” he said.
What is the purpose of remodelling? “Remodelling is essential for maintaining the strength and structure of our bones,” said Dr Bagaria. He added that remodelling has two main functions: replacing old and damaged bone with new bone and maintaining ‘calcium homeostasis’.
“Remodelling targets the old and damaged bone and plays a key role in maintaining mechanical strength of bone,” added Dr Tejaswi.
Bones are living and growing tissue that consist mainly of two materials – collagen, a protein that provides soft framework, and calcium minerals that add strength and harden the framework. “This combination makes the bone strong and flexible enough so it can hold up under stress,” Dr Tejaswi said.
What activities are good for bone health? Activities like walking, running are good for building bone. “They are called weight bearing activities because they use the force of our muscles to put pressure on our bones. The pressure makes the body build up strong bones,” explained Dr Tejaswi.
Dr Bhagaria said that one can keep their bones healthy by exercising regularly and avoiding tobacco and alcohol. “Hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, sedentary lifestyle, family history of osteoporosis, certain medical conditions like autoimmune disorders and malabsorption syndromes can affect the bones adversely,” he said.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes the bones to become weak and brittle. “The body constantly absorbs and replaces bone tissue. With osteoporosis, new bone creation doesn’t keep up with old bone removal,” added Dr Tejaswi. He advised visiting a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of the disease.