Calcium is an important mineral found abundantly in bones and teeth of human beings. Almost 98 percent of calcium is present in bones and teeth. The rest 2 percent is present in other tissues and circulating blood. Calcium keeps the bones and teeth strong. It is essential for formation of bone mass so that the skeletal system remains strongly supported.
What Causes Calcium Buildup On Bones:
Many factors play a role in deposition of calcium on bones. It is also called calcification of bones. Calcium deposits mainly develop as a reaction to trauma, chronic irritation, infection, genetic disorder involving bones and skeletal system, problem in calcium metabolism and constant inflammation.
In normal circumstances, you may see calcium gets deposited on the bone if there is a fracture of bone. This is a physiological process where calcium circulating in blood forms a thin layer around the fractured area. Later on it forms a layer upon layer to form a strong bone which joins the fracture. But aside from this, there are some instances where there is abnormal deposition of calcium mineral on bony area. The gradual deposition at certain places can cause lot of trouble. For example the large deposit of calcium on bone can compress adjacent tissues and nerve leading to pain.
Calcification of bones is common issue in arthritis. Arthritis is a chronic condition affecting bones and cartilage. It causes damage to the cartilage of the joints. As a result calcium starts depositing in the joint space, especially over the synovial membrane. Excess of calcium buildup can lead to stiffness of joint as well as swelling and painful joint. In some cases the too much deposition can cause fusion of bony ends leading to restriction of movement.
Bone spurs are calcium deposition over the normal bone. It usually occurs due to frequent friction and pressure on the bone. Bony spurs are common in vertebra, and heel bones. However, they can develop in any joint. Bony spur in heel bone often develops in runners and dancers. It causes pain and restriction of movement due to pain. Bony spurs develop with age. People in their middle age are more at risk of developing bone spurs.
A genetic disorder known as Conradi-hunnerman syndrome causes calcium deposition at the end of long bones. The syndrome predominantly occurs in females, as the gene is passed from mother to daughter. Only the gene of mother is affected in this disorder. The child also suffers from other deformities such as mental retardation, short stature, spinal deformity, flat face etc.
Genetic diseases such as Paget’s disease also consists of excess build up of calcium on bone. However, the body structure that forms is not strong and breaks easily. This leads to frequent fractures and broken bones.
Effects of calcium deposits on bones:
Calcium deposit on bone in many cases remains asymptomatic. It means it does not produce any symptoms and may be detected accidentally on X-ray examination done for some other purpose. Symptoms only develop when calcium deposit is in excess and starts producing symptoms such as pain and difficult movement. But sometimes even small deposits of calcium can also cause pain. The best example is that of a spur in heel bone. The condition is commonly referred as calcaneal spur. Repeated stress and friction to the calcaneum bone of heel results in formation of a spur. Patient complains of pain while walking for the first time after getting up from bed. During daytime pain is less. Calcium deposit in shoulder region can cause frozen shoulder.
Calcium deposits on bones usually are not a serious cause of worry. However, sometimes calcium deposits can produce pain and difficulty in movement. In such case patient may need treatment. For example to reduce acute pain the doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine and pain killer. Cold fomentation and physiotherapy are beneficial to reduce inflammation and pain. Physical therapy increases the range of motion. In case of heel bone spur, specially prepared orthotic shoes and slippers are beneficial to relieve pain. Patient is advised to reduce over use of joint or the affected part.