Bone Metabolism Disorders

What are Bone Metabolism Disorders?

Bone metabolism disorders, or BMD, are conditions that reduce bone strength and skeletal health. Left untreated, bone metabolism disorders can lead to serious irregularities in bone growth, size, and strength.

Bone metabolism is the natural lifelong process of bone formation and resorption. This is also called bone remodeling. Bone metabolism disorders interrupt this remodeling process.

Types of Bone Metabolism Disorders

There are numerous types of bone metabolism disorders. All of them impact skeletal health.

The most common types of bone metabolism disorders include:

  • Osteoporosis — This condition weakens bones and increases the likelihood of fractures.
  • Osteomalacia — this condition softens the bones and is commonly associated with an extreme deficiency of Vitamin D.
  • Renal osteodystrophy — a calcium deficiency in the kidneys reduces bone growth.
  • Osteitis deformans — also known as Paget’s disease, this condition leads to excessive bone growth and bone deformities.
  • Rickets — characterized by soft, weakened bones due to prolonged Vitamin D deficiencies.


Many bone metabolism disorder symptoms develop over time.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Aching pain
  • Increased bone fractures
  • Weakened muscles
  • Slow growth
  • Irregular growth
  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination

Some of the symptoms, such as pain and fractures, are common across different types of bone metabolism disorders. Other symptoms, such as thirst and vomiting, generally develop from specific underlying health issues.


There are several potential causes of bone metabolism disorder. Three main bone metabolism hormones regulate bone health: parathyroid, calcitriol, and calcitonin. Your doctor may refer to each of these individual hormones as a bone metabolism regulator.

Common bone metabolism disorder causes:

  • Calcium deficiency
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Phosphorus deficiency
  • Parathyroid gland malfunction
  • Hereditary diseases

Hereditary diseases such as hypophosphatemia and hyperparathyroidism can lead to bone metabolism disorders.

Risk Factors

Certain individuals are at higher risk of developing bone metabolism disorders. Risk factors include age, gender, family history, body size, lifestyle, and pre-existing medical conditions.

Typical risk factors for bone metabolism disorders:

  • Age — older individuals are at higher risk. However, children can also develop the disorders.
  • Gender — both men and women can develop the condition, although certain types of bone metabolism disorders are more common in women.
  • Body size — individuals with a smaller, more petite, body size are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
  • Family history — genetics may play a role in the development of the disease.
  • Health — a history of bone fractures, kidney disorders, or intestinal conditions increase your risk.
  • Steroid Use — regular steroid use puts you more at risk for the condition.


Bone metabolism diagnosis typically involves a routine physical exam followed by a screening for bone and mineral abnormalities.

The most common diagnostic test is a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scan. This test is also called a DXA or bone metabolism test. Your doctor will use small doses of radiation to capture images of your bones. Typically, your doctor will focus on your hips and spine, but may examine other areas of your body.

The DXA test helps your doctor identify any abnormalities and measure your risk for bone fractures. The results may lead to a diagnosis of a bone metabolism disorder such as osteoporosis.

Your doctor may also perform a bone density test that measures your bone mineral content. Generally, the more mineral content, the higher the bone density.


Bone metabolism treatment usually involves a combination of supplements, nutrition, physical exercise, and ongoing monitoring by an endocrinologist. Your doctor will likely also focus on reducing risk factors.

Treatment options for bone metabolism disorders:

  • Nutrition — your doctor will help you design a nutritional plan to maintain healthy levels of calcium and Vitamin D.
  • Medications and supplements — your doctor may prescribe medications and supplements to prevent calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D deficiencies.
  • Physical exercise — physical activity can help strengthen bones.
  • Ongoing monitoring — your doctor may ask you to schedule regular visits to monitor your bone density and overall skeletal health.

Bone metabolism disorder prognosis depends on the severity of the condition, general health, age, and other factors. Some conditions may be reversible with proper treatment.

If you or a loved one experience any of the signs or symptoms of bone metabolism disorder, please contact an endocrinologist at Baptist Health today.

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