Your kidneys do a lot more than produce urine. They act as your body’s filters, playing a critical role in balancing the hormones, minerals, and other products found in your blood.
The way they work is deceptively simple: Blood flows into the kidneys where millions of tiny filters remove wastes and return “clean” blood to circulation. But the process is actually very complicated, and if your kidneys are damaged or malfunctioning, the balance of minerals and other products is affected, a condition called mineral and bone disorder in chronic kidney disease, or CKD-MBD.
Sometimes, the imbalance resulting from CKD-MBD affects your bone density, causing pain and other symptoms. This effect has its own name: renal osteodystrophy — literally, nutrient deficiency of your bones.
With multiple locations in Houston and Cypress, Texas, Houston Kidney Specialists Center uses lab tests and other approaches to check for mineral deficiencies that could be causing bone pain and related symptoms. If you have bone pain, here’s what our team wants you to know about CKD-MBD and its treatment.
Bone mineral deficiencies and your kidneys
About two-thirds of bone material is made up of minerals, including calcium and phosphorus, which are two minerals that play major roles in bone strength and density. The remaining third is composed of protein that binds with these minerals.
Normally, your bones are continually replenishing themselves, replacing old or damaged material with new, healthy material to maintain bone health and prevent fractures and other problems. If you’re deficient in calcium or phosphorus, this replacement cycle breaks down and bone is unable to replenish itself, which weakens bones and causes painful symptoms.
While nutritional deficiencies and metabolic diseases can certainly play a role in calcium and phosphorus deficiencies, many people don’t know that kidney problems can also be involved. That’s because your kidneys regulate the amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals in your blood, which means if something is wrong with your kidneys, your blood mineral content can be affected, too — sometimes dramatically.
Symptoms associated with mineral deficiencies
As mentioned, bone pain is a common symptom associated with CKD-MBD, but it’s not the only one. Other possible symptoms include:
- Frequent fractures
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Nerve problems
- Chronic itching
- Difficulty fighting infections
- Heart-related symptoms
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, our team will perform an evaluation to see if mineral problems or other issues are to blame.
Treating bone mineral problems
Diagnosing CKD-MBD and renal osteodystrophy begins with a review of your personal and family medical history, your symptoms, and other factors.
During your evaluation, we’ll order bone density measurements and blood tests to measure the levels of vitamins and minerals in your blood. Undergoing kidney function tests and bone biopsies — which involves taking tiny samples of bone tissue — can also be helpful in some patients.
If our team diagnoses CKD-MBD, the next step is determining the best course of treatment based on your unique needs. Depending on your exam results and lab findings, your treatment might include:
- Taking supplements, such as vitamin D or calcium
- Making dietary changes to increase your intake of specific minerals
- Increasing your physical exercise
- Taking medication to enhance mineral-binding in your bones
- Taking medication to regulate other processes
Sometimes, glands can play a role in bone density problems by releasing too much or not enough of the hormones that help regulate mineral content in your tissues. Or your kidneys may not be able to filter hormones efficiently, which may leave high levels of hormones circulating in your blood. In these cases, we may recommend surgery to manage gland function and activity.
Find out what’s causing your bone pain
The symptoms and complications associated with renal osteodystrophy can be debilitating, but there are medical treatments that can help. To find out if mineral deficiencies are causing your symptoms, call 281-429-8780 or book an appointment online with Houston Kidney Specialists Center today.