remodelling, of bones

Bones are not dead rocks - they are a living tissue. Throughout our lives, two activities are taking place in our bones: they are constantly being built up by one type of bone cell (osteoblast) while at the same time they are constantly being torn down by another type of bone cell (osteoclast). Old bone is removed and new bone formed simultaneously. Amazingly, the new bone is laid down only where it is supposed to be according to the normal "blueprint" of the bone.

What this means is that if a bone is broken, while at first there will be a hard lump of callus to "weld" it together, and the broken ends may overlap or not lie in quite the correct alignment, the parts of the bone that are out of place will be progressively destroyed and only the normal architecture is replaced. In this way, the damaged and hastily repaired bone is remodelled to its proper form.

This amazing feature of bone is most efficient in rapidly growing children. For this reason, we can confidently predict that the healing fracture visible today in a child on the xray and perhaps visible as a lump beneath the skin will be restored to complete perfection, undetectable in the future even on xray.

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