Osteosclerosis: Symptoms & Treatment

Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

Osteosclerosis is a type of bone disorder that causes bones in the body to become abnormally hard and dense. If you want to learn more about the symptoms and treatment for osteosclerosis, be sure to continue reading this lesson!

Harder Does Not Mean Stronger

Think of a rubber band. When a rubber band is at room temperature, it is very soft, pliable, and flexible. You can usually stretch a rubber band very far without it breaking. But what happens when you put a rubber band in the freezer? It becomes much harder, doesn't it? Not only does it become much harder, but it also becomes much more likely to break. If you try to stretch a frozen rubber band, it will likely break immediately.

This same sort of thing happens to your bones. You might not realize it, but your bones can actually bend a little bit, which helps to prevent your bones from breaking. However, if your bones become too hard, they are much more likely to break, just like that hard, frozen rubber band. Osteopetrosis refers to a group of genetic disorders that result in abnormally hard and dense bones. One specific type of osteopetrosis is known as osteosclerosis.

The bones throughout the body contain two types of cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Osteoblasts function to build bones and make then more dense, while osteoclasts break bones down to make them less dense. Usually, osteoblasts and osteoclasts work together in perfect unity to make sure bone stiffness and density remain normal and healthy. However, conditions like osteosclerosis can disturb the balance of osteoblast and osteoclast activity, resulting in the bones becoming abnormally hard and dense.

This is a pelvic x-ray of a person with osteosclerosis. The increased whiteness of the pelvic bone and spine indicate increased bone density.
osteosclerosis

Symptoms

Symptoms of osteosclerosis include:

  • Frequent bone fractures and breaks
  • Bone pain
  • Short stature
  • Hypocalcemia (low levels of calcium in the blood)
  • Vision problems
  • Hearing problems

Additionally, osteosclerosis can impact the blood as well. The bone marrow is the location where red blood cells are created in the body. Some cases of osteosclerosis can impair the bone marrow's ability to produce red blood cells, resulting in anemia (low levels of red blood cells in the body).

Osteosclerosis can result in abnormal bone growth and shortened stature.
abnormal bone growth

Treatment

There are several forms of treatment for osteosclerosis, and the specific treatment used will depend on the specific symptoms of a person. The following chart describes some common forms of treatment for osteosclerosis.

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