Our bones provide the scaffolding that holds our bodies upright. Contrary to popular belief, healthy bones are not solid. Their interiors are made of a honeycomb structure with tiny holes to keep them light and springy. However, bones that have lost a lot of mineral density have much larger holes as well as thin outer walls, which can increase their risk of breaking. So bone density is important.
Age and lifestyle can lower bone density and increase risk for conditions such as osteoporosis (dangerously low bone density) and osteopenia, which is not as extreme as osteoporosis. Low bone density is a widespread problem: Each year an estimated 1.5 million individuals suffer a fracture due to bone disease.
At Yale Medicine, our endocrinologists specialize in metabolic bone disease—conditions caused by deficiencies in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium or vitamin D or problems with the hormones that regulate our blood minerals. Sometimes metabolic bone disease can be due to problems in the proteins and chemicals that make up the bones themselves. “With our depth of knowledge and reputation as a major referral center, we’ve seen the whole spectrum of cases,” says Karl Insogna, MD, director of the Yale Medicine Bone Center.