Being an advocate for bone and joint pain and personally living with osteoarthritis osteonecrosis and spondylolisthesis pain .
I saw our community struggle in new and ways besides living and dealing with daily pain.
People suddenly couldn’t access routine care because of lockdowns, fear and added anxiety.
They became more isolated than ever before. They and their family members faced job losses and financial hardship.
As an advocate for arthritis and a facilitator for my local LIVE YES Connect Group, I had to cancel or postpone in-person programs and events.
But on the plus side we went virtual on Zoom
Some members and their families faced added strain, whether dealing with virtual school or safety concerns for loved ones in nursing homes.
It’s a year most are happy to see come to an end.
But as a person with pain, I am always compelled to find silver linings. Even in the mist of challenging of times.
In 2020, I got to travel to Washington D.C participate in a focus group and then speak on Capital Hill.
I met some fantastic people from our state representatives to other leaders and advocates who work so hard to create a strong support system for so many causes and conditions.
I got to stay in a great city and tour the beautiful historical city of Washington D.C
We made great strides in accessibility, as health care system finally embraced telehealth and more companies allowed remote work.
Many disabled now gave hope to possibly getting a part time job working from home now because we see it is doable.
We seen a President work tirelessly to get pharmaceutical companies to create a vaccine quickly that will be safe for the USA and world.
We gave witnessed the power of science and innovation with the development of promising treatments and vaccines.
We saw our neighbors and communities come together to support one another in their time of need.
Despite the news only showing negativity there was a lot of positive happening.
2020 shown how resilient we are. And to never lose faith. Be grateful for everyday.
I don’t know what 2021 will bring;
I’m hoping it will be a fantastic year.
I just want to Thank you for your support, and following me on IG, Blog, and all social media platforms I promise to bring you current and uplifting information in 2021 and I wish you all a safe, healthy, prosperous and happy new year
Today is a special day for me , it’s the second annual Avascular Necrosis Osteonecrosis Awareness Day.
The am still working hard to get every state to work with the others so we all have one date to raise awareness and bring recognition to the painful disease called Osteonecrosis which goes by several others names.
It’s a slow yet rewarding experience
More people are learning about Osteonecrosis , what it is how you get it in many cases. And that’s what it’s all about. To get people to listen to us, learn about it. That way we can get better options for treatment and pain.
Some of the faces of AVN women is this picture
Legg Calves Perthes – Avn children
Kienbock’s Disease Avn wrist
Kümmell disease Avn in vertebrate
ONJ Osteonecrosis of the Jaw
and so many more …….
Osteonecrosis is a disease caused by reduced blood flow to bones in the joints. In people with healthy bones, new bone is always replacing old bone. In osteonecrosis, the lack of blood causes the bone to break down faster than the body can make enough new bone. The bone starts to die and may break down.
You can have osteonecrosis in one or several bones. It is most common in the upper leg. Other common sites are your upper arm and your knees, shoulders and ankles. The disease can affect men and women of any age, but it usually strikes in your thirties, forties or fifties.
At first, you might not have any symptoms. As the disease progresses , you will probably have joint pain that becomes more severe. You may not be able to bend or move the affected joint very well.
No one is sure what causes the disease. Risk factors include
Long-term steroid treatment
Having certain diseases, including arthritis and cancer
Doctors use imaging tests and other tests to diagnose osteonecrosis. Treatments include medicines, using crutches, limiting activities that put weight on the affected joints, electrical stimulation and surgery.
Can you imagine how empowered our female ancestors felt in 1920?
Finally given the right to vote after fighting before it for so long.
I know the I feeling I get when I vote whether it’s a major or minor election.
The sense of pride and empowerment and yet humbled that my voice , all our voices will be heard and count.
Women were always told they belonged at home , in the kitchen with no voice allowing their husbands to speak for them.
I was lucky enough to get to go to Washington D.C in February 2020 and speak on Capital Hill for Rare Week 2020.
I stayed a few days and visited all the Smithsonian Centers
It was emotional for me to see how many brave women fought for the right to vote. Just think it’s only been 100 years. And for many African American women it’s only been only 35-40 years because even thought the ratification of the 19th Amendment happened in 1920. Not all states allowed blacks to vote.
The 19th Amendment did not eliminate the state laws that operated to keep Black Americans from the polls via poll taxes and literacy tests nor did the 19th Amendment address violence or lynching. Some African-American women will vote with the 19th Amendment. Some are already voting in California, New York and Illinois where state governments have authorized women’s votes. But many Black women faced the beginning of a new movement for voting rights in the summer of 1920, and it’s a struggle they will wage alone because now the organizations that had led the movement for women’s suffrage were then disbanding.
Voting today is happening because of our strong grandmothers great grandmothers and great great grandmothers who stood up to others holding them back
They were jailed , beaten when all because they voiced their opinions all for wanting to be included.
People wanted to silence them because of their own fears. ‘The Night of terror’: The suffragists who were beaten and tortured for seeking the vote. The women were clubbed, beaten and tortured by the guards at the Occoquan Workhouse. … The suffragists dubbed their treatment Nov. 14, 1917, as the “Night of Terror,” and it helped galvanize public support of the suffrage movement.
These brave selfless independent women were thinking and fighting for the future generations of women. And so today it is our duty to honor their fight and go and vote for what ever candidate you identify with and their policies.
Personally I don’t care who you vote for. Just vote.
We needed their example and because of the suffragists we women all over this great nation get to vote.
They ( men and many women alike) didn’t think women should be involved in politics.
We women have come a long way and yet still have a long way to go.
No matter if we agree or disagree on whom to vote for the important thing is to vote.
It’s the most and least we can do for our country.
To all these young women who get to vote for the first time today co congratulations and thank you for doing your part.
The male guards at the Northern Virginia prison manacled the party’s co-founder Lucy Burns by her hands to the bars above her cell and forced her to stand all night. Dorothy Day, who would later establish the Catholic Worker houses, had her arm twisted behind her back and was slammed twice over the back of an iron bench.
The guards threw suffragist Dora Lewis into a dark cell and smashed her head against an iron bed, knocking her out. Lewis’s cellmate, Alice Cosu, believing Lewis dead, suffered a heart attack and was denied medical care until the next morning.
The suffragists dubbed their treatment Nov. 14, 1917, as the “Night of Terror,” and it helped galvanize public support of the suffrage movement.
So many women and men live with this painful disease and now maybe a confirmation via blood test is not to far off.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia (fi·bro·my·al·gi·a) is a condition that causes pain all over the body (also referred to as widespread pain), sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional and mental distress. People with fibromyalgia may be more sensitive to pain than people without fibromyalgia. This is called abnormal pain perception processing. Fibromyalgia affects about 4 million US adults, about 2% of the adult population. The cause of fibromyalgia is not known, but it can be effectively treated and managed.
What are the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia?
The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are
Pain and stiffness all over the body
Fatigue and tiredness
Depression and anxiety
Problems with thinking, memory, and concentration
Headaches, including migraines
Other symptoms may include:
Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
Pain in the face or jaw, including disorders of the jaw known as temporomandibular joint syndrome (also known as TMJ)
Digestive problems, such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and even irritable bowel syndrome (also known as IBS)
What are the risk factors for fibromyalgia?
Known risk factors include:
Age. Fibromyalgia can affect people of all ages, including children. However, most people are diagnosed during middle age and you are more likely to have fibromyalgia as you get older.
Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. If you have lupus or rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you are more likely to develop fibromyalgia.
Some other factors have been weakly associated with the onset of fibromyalgia, but more research is needed to see if they are real. These possible risk factors include:
Sex. Women are twice as likely to have fibromyalgia as men.
Stressful or traumatic events, such as car accidents, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Repetitive injuries. Injury from repetitive stress on a joint, such as frequent knee bending.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month today we learn about Power and Control
Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used to gain or maintain power and control. At The Hotline, our frame of reference for describing abuse is the Power and Control Wheel developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in Duluth, MN. In the diagram below, the Power and Control Wheel assumes she/her pronouns for the victim and he/him pronouns for the perpetrator, but the abusive behavior that it details can happen to people of any gender or sexuality.
The wheel serves as a diagram of tactics that an abusive partner uses to keep their victims in a relationship. The inside of the wheel is made up of subtle, continual behaviors over time, while the outer ring represents physical and sexual violence. Abusive actions like those depicted in the outer ring often reinforce the regular use of other, more subtle methods found in the inner ring.
What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?
Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
There are some key differences between Flu and COVID-19.
COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and can cause more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. Another important difference is there is a vaccine to protect against flu. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. More information about differences between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different sections below.
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.
While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.
Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:
Fever or feeling feverish/chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle pain or body aches
Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms listed above.
How long someone can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 is still under investigation.
It’s possible for people to spread the virus for about 2 days before experiencing signs or symptoms and remain contagious for at least 10 days after signs or symptoms first appeared. If someone is asymptomatic or their symptoms go away, it’s possible to remain contagious for at least 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19.
Both COVID-19 and flu can spread from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Both are spread mainly by droplets made when people with the illness (COVID-19 or flu) cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
It may be possible that a person can get infected by physical human contact (e.g. shaking hands) or by touching a surface or object that has virus on it and then touching his or her own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
Both flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 may be spread to others by people before they begin showing symptoms, with very mild symptoms or who never developed symptoms (asymptomatic).
While COVID-19 and flu viruses are thought to spread in similar ways, COVID-19 is more contagious among certain populations and age groups than flu. Also, COVID-19 has been observed to have more superspreading events than flu. This means the virus that causes COVID-19 can quickly and easily spread to a lot of people and result in continuous spreading among people as time progresses.
While remdesivir is an antiviral agent that is being explored as a treatment for COVID-19 and is available under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), there are currently no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent or treat COVID-19. Studies are in progress to learn more.
Can you feel that storm coming in your knees? Back pain increases with a cold front? So can lots of people with arthritis. Some doctors think that these stories of weather causing joint pain are old wives’ tales, but science is backing up the phenomenon.
Are You Weather Sensitive?
Some people are definitely more sensitive to weather and specifically the changes in the weather than others. .
So it is more important that we take steps now to limit the onset of more pain and potential and joint damage. Here are a few helpful ways to try and
limit our seasonal symptoms:
• Increase vitamin consumption—a good diet is foundational to your fight against joint pain and damage, but diet may not be enough. Some studies suggest that arthritis patients don’t get enough Vitamin D, so it is important to load up on Vitamin D-rich foods. Many experts recommend that you take pill supplements of Vitamins D, E, A and K for optimal joint health.
• Stay hydrated I am terrible at getting enough water especially if it’s cooler dehydration puts unnecessary stress on our joints. Drinking liquids regularly ensures that there is enough lubricant in your joints and that your joint tissue is operating at peak performance. There is also some evidence that lack of hydration may make you more sensitive to pain.
• Remain warm—it is important to keep your joints as protected from the cold as possible. Wear extra layers when going outside to mitigate any damage the cold may inflict on you. I personally love Thermacare Heat wraps I buy them in bulk because when winter hits this is the only thing I truly can count on to keep my joints warm for hours . I put one on and go shopping a small walk and don’t feel as if my joints are going to snap.
• Maintain activity levels—you may not feel like going for a walk in a rain or snow storm, but you should still keep active. Lack of use can lock up joints and aggravate pain symptoms, so continue with your stationary bike or yoga even in the cold weather months.
• Warm water—whether it is swimming in a heated pool or soaking a hot bath, water can do wonders for your joints. The penetrating warmth can loosen stiff joints and alleviate joint pain. After soaking, gradually re-acclimate to the cold to prevent a shock to your system.No doubt I miss taking a bath so for me a warm shower also helps.
• OTC medications—depending on how severe your joint pain is, your doctor may recommend over-the counter medications like Tylenol or aspirin. Many of these medications can prove just as effective at relieving pain and inflammation as more potent prescription drugs. Always discuss all of the drugs you take with your physician beforehand. And now they have Voltaren gel sold over the counter to rub on sore bones.
• Massage therapy—many patients suffer from muscle pain as well as pain from their joints. Long-term pain can produce muscle contractions, but a massage can help relax tense muscles as well as stiff joints. There is also a powerful endorphin rush following a massage that will provide considerable pain relief.
• Restful sleep—many people experience changes in sleep patterns when the day shortens or lengthens. Maintaining a restful sleep schedule is critical to healthy joints and pain mitigation. Stick to your regular sleep schedule as much as possible. If you are having difficulty, discuss your remedy options with your doctor.
• Physical therapy—if you are not already seeing a physical therapist for your joint health, then a new season may be the ideal time. Not only will you learn more about how to limit joint damage and optimize your health, but the therapy sessions should improve your joint function and pain symptoms.
• Remember Always talk to your pcp or ortho before starting or stopping anything new.
Disclaimer this blog is for entertainment purposes only and is never to be taken as medical advice.
I am a survivor and advocate of Domestic Violence. I am so glad I lived and finally ended the cycle of violence.
After I finally left my first husband for good, I went to counseling and attended a women’s dv support group to what I call deprogram my brain from all the negativity and abuse I experienced for 10 years.
Over time I healed and went on to become a volunteer then a group coordinator, then I presided over the support groups spoke to incarcerated women, churches, police,women’s organizations and I then became a DV Shelter manager and did this for for at least a decade. That was my 1st calling. I think as we live and experience things in our life we get different callings. That was definitely one of mine. To go out educate anyone and everyone on DV (domestic violence)
My first marriage was never really a happy marriage. Yes there were happy times but if I look back I felt more like a hostage than an equal partner in a marriage. This man I married shown me a side of him I never saw when we dated, or else I never would have married him.
I was a battered wife and it all started about 2 weeks after I was married. I arrived home from work 90 minutes later than usual because we were so busy at work and my husband went off. He called me a whore, bitch, slut at that point he didn’t hit me. But the verbal abuse I experienced for being late at work was just ridiculous. We didn’t have cell phones in the 1980s.
You know why he went off ? Because dinner wasn’t ready. Of course I apologized.
It wasn’t long before I became his personal punching bag. I was hit , punched, kicked, slapped, more times than I can count and I’m grateful I’m alive, because I came close to death a couple times.
National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an annual designation observed in October. For many, home is a place of love, warmth, and comfort.
It’s somewhere that you know you will be surrounded by care and support, and a nice little break from the busyness of the real world. But for millions of others, home is anything but a sanctuary.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year.
Every 9 seconds, a woman in the U.S. is beaten or assaulted by a current or ex-significant other.
1 in 4 men are victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.
Here’s another shocking statistic: the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 is 6,488. The number of women who were murdered by current or ex-male partners during that same time frame is 11,766, according to the Huffington Post.
That’s almost double the number of people who were killed fighting in the war. People who are in an abusive relationship will stay with their partner for a number of reasons:
Their self-esteem is totally destroyed, and they are made to feel they will never be able to find another person to be with.
The cycle of abuse, meaning the ‘honeymoon phase’ that follows physical and mental abuse, makes them believe their partner really is sorry and does love them.
It’s dangerous to leave. Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the weeks after leaving their abusive partner than at any other time in the relationship, according to the Domestic Violence Intervention program.
Statistics suggest that almost 5 percent of male homicide victims each year are killed by an intimate partner.
They feel personally responsible for their partner, or their own behavior. They are made to feel like everything that goes wrong is their fault.
They share a life. Marriages, children, homes, pets, and finances are a big reason victims of abuse feel they can’t leave.
Please I beg you if you are in an abusive relationship get the hell out , don’t walk …..run
Make a plan slowly hide money a few pieces of clothing in a duffle , copy all important documents like birth certificates for you and the kids , marriage license, restraining orders, social security cards for all of you. If you have to flee and you will…. you will need these to get some for of help with say public assistance,medical, court help etc…..
Keep them with someone you trust completely who will not tell anyone.
It will never be better it will get worse. Sorry doesn’t mean shit when you keep getting kicked, pushed,punched,slapped, called names like bitch,cunt,whore etc…
You are told so much bullshit that plays mind games that over time you begin to believe all his crap like no one will ever love you, your nothing, your lucky I love you because who else would.
The topper is after your beat and bloody or slapped They look at you and say …..you made them do that to you. If you …… fill in the blank
Would have only had dinner ready
Or the house cleaner or didn’t spend so much at the grocery store.
Or why did you have to open your mouth.
They find every way to blame you … nothing is ever their fault and often they hit you for no reason. It’s all about control and their own low self esteem.
They don’t want you to succeed,they discourage you from bettering yourself.
They don’t want you to go to school, Hell they don’t want you to see your family or your friends!
They want to alienate you so all you have is them. Then they beat you call you names.
It’s like being in a war you are brainwashed and tortured by the enemy – but the enemy in this case that is hurting you torturing you is your spouse or significant other.
Being in a DV situation can physically and emotionally harm the kids, some females grow up to be abused and some males will grow up to be abusers and vice versa.
When you are in a domestic violence situation especially women you are a significantly higher risk of experiencing PTSD,depression, anxiety,substance abuse and thoughts of suicide.
Don’t believe all the I’m sorry it will never happen again. It will happen again and each time will be more violent than before.
How many times do you need to hear I’m sorry it will never happen again?
You matter, you were not put on this earth to be someone’s punching bag. You were not born to be verbally abused, physically abused, psychologically and or financially abused.
You were put here for a purpose but being abused wasn’t it. I know you are tired, exhausted and just ready to give up. Or you may be in denial. I know exactly how you feel and so millions of other women.
Put your hand on your heart, feel that? That is your heart beat…. you are alive for a reason. That reason is not to be a punching bag.
I know you may love this person and think he loves you too and he will change. He mostly likely WONT. If you love someone you don’t beat them down you lift them up.
Do NOT be as foolish as I was and stay for 10 years because of fear and the lack of self esteem that came from being told we didn’t matter , we were worthless….nothing.
You are somebody special you have a purpose, that purpose is not to be abused by someone else ….you must get out before you are killed or critically injured.
Working in a Domestic Violence Shelter to me was a privilege. I was blessed with the opportunity to help other women get out and make a plan to get out. These were women of all races, religions, economic and social backgrounds. From a politicians wife, to the cops wife to the preachers wife to the single mom to the teenager in an abusive dating relationship.
They have a special place in my heart because I know what they feel.
So what is Domestic Violence? Domestic Violence is a violent or controlling behavior by a person toward a family or household member, usually towards an intimate partner. Although the partner is the primary target, violence is often directed toward the children and pets as well. Approximately 95% of domestic violence victims are women. It is a learned behavior. Abuser and victims come from all walks of life, races, income levels and ages.
There are many types of abuse:
Verbal: Yelling, name-calling, threatening to hurt or kill, criticizing your appearance, belittling, constant blaming
Emotional: Social isolation, neglecting physical or emotional needs, abusing pets, accusations of an affair, monitoring telephone conversations, criticizing family and friends, embarrassing you in front of others
Sexual: Unwanted sexual advances, committing rape or incest, forcing you to have sex with others, forcing pregnancy or abortion.
Psychological: “Brainwashing”- a person’s self-worth is destroyed through harassment, threats, deprivations of food and sleep
Physical: Hitting, kicking, punching, slapping, inflicting injury with weapons, homicide
Economic: Withholding financial information, controlling money & bank accounts, making you account for every expenditures.
I dealt with many bruises on arms legs big ass bumps on the head from so many blows to the head,, a black eye here and there , busted lip, pushed from a moving car, hand broken in 5 places, kicked with steel toe boots, cornered he loved yo corner me then punch or slap me on time I was punched and pushed so hard my head went through the glass on our front door I had to have over 120 stitches and my head was wrapped as if I just had brain surgery I lost so much blood I almost passed out, blood was going all over and then the I’m sorry came out of his mouth, all I remember was saying I hope I die so you go to fucking prison, then I will be finally free. This happened when my daughter was asleep in the other room and thank God his nephew came over he cleaned all the blood up off the floor and wall, taped cardboard over the glass on the front door and stayed with my daughter who was asleep, she was maybe 4 or 5. Hard to remember exactly.
I could have died that night.
At the ER they asked what happened he immediately said I fell. I told them to get him away from me. The police came and removed him from the ER.
On the way out he said remember how your getting home and it’s fine he will go alway and pack and be gone before I’m done getting stitches.
That was code for bitch shut up our daughter is home and he’d take her.
He always threatened to take her that’s why I had her now live at my parents. And even though I saw her daily it was not the same.
I told the nurse what happened , but lied to the doctor stitching me up. He knew he looked at me and said you could have died consider a plan to get out. I told him my daughter is home with our nephew how much longer as code to him to please don’t keep lecturing me I will get out when it’s right.
After I was all stitched up I actually got back in the truck and went home my head felt as if I was never going to be the same. How was I going to go to work in 4 hours? My parents are going to freak out.
I called my mom after he went to work told her I wasn’t feeling good and could she come pick up her granddaughter, she said they could asked what was wrong I said nothing really just not feeling well. She said did that bastard hit you again? And when am I going to leave ….. just what I didn’t want to hear another lecture to make me feel yet stupider.
When they came to pick up my daughter who cried when she woke up and saw my head. I told her it’s ok mommy hurt her head and I will be ok in a few days. But grandma and papa was coming to get her so I could go to sleep and heal my boo boo.
It was clear she wanted to stay with me and I wanted her to stay, but in case he came home and wanted to fight again I can’t have her in the cross fire.
My dad cried when he seen me. My mom teared up and my dad said please come home, I told him it will be worse right now if I come home. Because he will just come there like before.
I told my dad I will plan to leave soon. He went and bought us dinner so I didn’t have to cook and I think it was his way of letting my husband know I see what you did and I’m watching you.
That was just one of hundreds of incidents over 10 years.
Bones are live organs, which play a role in regulating a range of bodily processes. Photograph: Doug Armand / Getty Images.
Gérard Karsenty was a young scientist trying to make a name for himself in the early 1990s when he first stumbled upon a finding that would go on to transform our understanding of bone, and the role it plays in our body.
Karsenty had become interested in osteocalcin, one of the most abundant proteins in bone. He suspected that it played a crucial role in bone remodelling – the process by which our bones continuously remove and create new tissue – which enables us to grow during childhood and adolescence, and also recover from injuries.
Intending to study this, he conducted a genetic knockout experiment, removing the gene responsible for osteocalcin from mice. However to his dismay, his mutant mice did not appear to have any obvious bone defects at all. “For him, it was initially a total failure,” says Mathieu Ferron, a former colleague of Karsenty who now heads a research lab studying bone biology at IRCM in Montreal. “In those days it was super-expensive to do modification in the mouse genome.”
But then Karsenty noticed something unexpected. While their bones had developed normally, the mice appeared to be both noticeably fat and cognitively impaired.
“Mice that don’t have osteocalcin have increased circulating glucose, and they tend to look a bit stupid,” says Ferron. “It may sound silly to say this, but they don’t learn very well, they appear kind of depressed. But it took Karsenty and his team some time to understand how a protein in bone could be affecting these functions. They were initially a bit surprised and terrified as it didn’t really make any sense to them.”
Almost 15 years later, Karsenty would publish the first of a series of landmark papers that would revolutionise our perspective on bone and the skeleton in general. We used to view our skeleton as primarily a mechanical structure whose main role is to serve as a scaffold for the rest of the body. But our bones are very much live organs, which we now believe play a role in regulating a whole range of vital bodily processes ranging from memory to appetite, muscle health, fertility, metabolism and many others.
“The idea that bone is just a simple organ that’s separated from everything else as a mineralised tissue, and that doesn’t communicate – that’s changed,” says Thomas Clemens, professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Johns Hopkins Center for Musculoskeletal Research. “Karsenty has ushered in the idea that bone is involved in communicating with other tissues in the body that wasn’t really understood or investigated before.”
We now know that bones communicate by participating in a network of signals to other organs through producing their own hormones, proteins that circulate in the blood. Karsenty’s mice eventually led him to realise that osteocalcin was in fact one such hormone, and understanding its links to regulating so many of these functions could have future implications in terms of public health interventions.
“The idea that bone could produce a hormone affecting metabolism or even your liver initially came as a bit of a shock,” says Ferron. “People did not expect that. But other scientists have since replicated the results, and even discovered new hormones also produced by bones. It’s opened up a completely new field in bone research.”
Reversing Age-Related Decline
As we age, all of us inevitably lose bone. Research shows that humans reach peak bone mass in their 20s; from then onwards, it is a slow decline that can eventually lead to frailty and diseases such as osteoporosis in old age.
Over the past decade, new findings have suggested that this reduction in bone mass may also be linked to the weakening of muscles – referred to in medical terms as sarcopenia – as well as the memory and cognitive problems that many of us experience as we grow older. This appears to be connected to the levels of osteocalcin in the blood, through its role as a “master regulator”, influencing many other hormonal processes in the body.
“Osteocalcin acts in muscle to increase the ability to produce ATP, the fuel that allows us to exercise,” says Karsenty. “In the brain, it regulates the secretion of most neurotransmitters that are needed to have memory. The circulating levels of osteocalcin declines in humans around mid-life, which is roughly the time when these physiological functions, such as memory and the ability to exercise, begin to decline.”
But intriguingly in recent years, Karsenty has conducted a series of experiments in which he has shown that by increasing the levels of osteocalcin in older mice through injections, you can actually reverse many of these age-related ailments.
“Osteocalcin seems to be able to reverse manifestations of ageing in the brain and in muscle,” he says. “What is remarkable is that if you give osteocalcin to old mice, you restore memory and you restore the ability to exercise to the levels seen in a young mouse. That makes it potentially extremely attractive from a medical point of view.”
Scientists have also found that for humans, one way of naturally maintaining the levels of this hormone in the blood, even as we age, is through exercise, something that makes intuitive sense, as physical activity has long been known to have anti-ageing properties. Ferron is hoping that these findings can be used to support public health messages regarding the importance of staying active through middle age and later life.
“If you exercise regularly, then it stimulates your bone to make more osteocalcin, and that will have these beneficial effects on muscle and brain,” he says. “From epidemiological studies, we know that people who are very active tend to have less of a cognitive decline with age than sedentary people. With time, maybe people will be more aware of this connection, and think of their bone health as being just as important as other aspects of staying healthy.”
Ongoing research in this area also suggests that exercising more during the teenage years and early adulthood can continue to have a protective effect on bone and other aspects of health much later in life.
“I think this could reinforce the message that it’s important for people to be active during adolescence and early adult years,” Ferron says. “This means they reach a higher peak bone mass, which will protect them from age-related problems linked to osteocalcin decline.”
Utilizing Bone Hormones To Develop New Drugs
Osteocalcin is not the only bone hormone to have caught the attention of scientists, however. At the Mayo Clinic, Sundeep Khosla has been studying a hormone called DPP4, which is made by cells on the outer layers of bone, called osteoclasts, and appears to play a role in how bone regulates blood sugar.
Khosla is particularly interested in this hormone because the drug denosumab – which is clinically prescribed to osteoporosis patients to try and slow down the rate of bone loss – seems to have a positive effect on DPP4 as well. In a study of osteoporosis patients taking denosumab published earlier this year, he noticed that those also suffering from diabetes experienced an improvement in their symptoms.
“This shows that maybe this drug can treat both osteoporosis and diabetes at the same time,” says Khosla. “We’re now looking to follow up on these observations and test this through a randomised control trial.”
However, osteocalcin, with its potential to prevent many aspects of age-related decline, remains the major topic of interest in bone research. Given that so many people ignore public health guidelines regarding exercise – in 2017, the British Heart Foundation reported that around 20 million adults in the UK are insufficiently active – Karsenty is working on a means of artificially increasing the levels of osteocalcin in the blood and has even filed a patent on using it to treat cognitive disorders.
“This is not easy, but what we are hoping to do is to deliver osteocalcin perhaps through developing a molecule which regulates osteocalcin,” he says. “We’re exploring various ways of doing this, but the idea would be eventually to have something which could be used to treat age-related diseases such as sarcopenia and memory decline. This is really going to profit the elderly the most, but anyone with a decline in muscle function, because of a hip fracture or another condition, could also benefit from this treatment.”
Ferron says that such a treatment would differ from current medications designed to improve bone health in osteoporosis, as they only work by blocking bone loss. A drug targeting osteocalcin would aim to achieve wider health benefits through stimulating bone gain.
However, there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome. For example, simply injecting a form of osteocalcin is unlikely to be sufficient to achieve a therapeutic benefit in humans.
“Treatments like that tend to be more costly and more difficult as protein injections don’t have a very long half life,” says Ferron. “My lab is developing a stabilised form of osteocalcin so it can stay longer in the body, but the best solution would be to have some sort of small pharmacological molecules that could be put in a pill to target the receptor of osteocalcin to stimulate its activity. So that’s the idea I see for the future.”
But Karsenty’s findings have also led scientists to ponder a somewhat profound question: how did bones develop the ability to produce hormones such as osteocalcin in the first place?
The scientist himself believes that the answer lies deep in our evolutionary past. “I think that evolution has invented osteocalcin as a survival hormone,” he says. “Because to escape predators, you need your bones to be able to signal to your muscles to run, which is mediated by osteocalcin. To survive, you also need to remember where to find food or where a predator was an hour ago, and such memory processes are regulated by osteocalcin. More and more, we think that it evolved as a hormone to help animals escape danger.”
David Cox is a freelance health journalist and former neuroscientist.