With the unusual warm weather we have been seeing in Columbus, Ohio it is great to see so many people outside walking and exercising their feet lately. Any extra exposure to sunlight is always appreciated during the short and often dreary months this time of year. While excess sun exposure can be dangerous for skin, sunlight does provide the beneficial vitamin D, or calciferol that is crucial to bone health.
Osteoporosis is the most common skeletal disorder. It is characterized by an absolute reduction in bone density and mass. Bones become weak and are at increased risk of breaking. Because 28 of the bones in the body are located in the foot and they are under the pressure of the entire body weight, fractures commonly manifest here. Sunlight does not directly provide vitamin D; it stimulates the body to make vitamin D from a precursor found in the skin. The active form of vitamin D promotes the uptake of calcium from the intestines so it can be used to calcify bone as well as stimulating the parathyroid hormone to reabsorb calcium before it is filtered out by the kidneys as waste. Without enough vitamin D, not only are individuals at risk for osteoporosis, but they can also develop a similar condition called osteomalacia. In osteomalacia, bone cannot be mineralized and symptoms include muscle weakness, bone pain and bone deformities. The childhood form of osteomalacia that is more commonly known is called rickets. In rickets, children affected will typically be six to 12 months of age and will have symptoms of muscle tetany or extreme muscle contraction, delayed development, smaller overall stature and soft tissue swelling, or edema around the growth plates located at the ends of bones. Bowing of the tibia bone inward in the legs is a common consequence of vitamin D deficiency in rickets.
The one upside of these diseases is that there are some preventative measures that can be taken to avoid their occurrence. To keep your foot bones and the rest of the bones in your body healthy, be sure you have enough vitamin D as a part of your healthy diet. Bone mass peaks at age 35, so it is especially important to maintain an adequate amount of vitamin D and calcium in your diet and through exposure to sunlight later in life. Females are prone to developing osteoporosis following menopause and therefore should also take extra care to keep their bones strong. By contacting your podiatrist at the first signs of foot injury or bony pain in your feet and ankles, both any fractures that have occurred as well as loss of bone density can often be identified in one set of x-rays. The sooner that loss of bone density is identified, the sooner steps can be taken to supplement vitamins and minerals necessary to keep you healthy and on your feet.
Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.