Metabolic Bone, Calcium and Parathyroid Disorders Questions and Answers

We at Arkansas Diabetes and Endocrinology Center would like to answer your questions about metabolic bone, calcium, and parathyroid disorders. We’ve prepared a Q and A on the subject, which includes questions and answers about symptoms, risk factors, and treatment. Read on to learn much of what we know about these disorders! For more information, call us or schedule an appointment online. We serve patients from Little Rock AR, Conway AR, North Little Rock AR, Pine Bluff AR, Hot Springs AR, Benton AR, Sherwood AR, Russellville AR, Jacksonville AR, Cabot AR, Searcy AR, Bryant AR, Jonesboro AR, Forrest City AR, Magnolia AR, Camden AR, Malvern AR, Batesville AR, Arkadelphia AR, Clarksville AR, Monticello AR, Heber Springs AR, Morrilton AR, Stuttgart AR, Greenbrier AR, Sheridan AR, and Vilonia AR.

Metabolic Bone, Calcium and Parathyroid Disorders Questions and Answers
Metabolic Bone, Calcium and Parathyroid Disorders Questions and Answers

Although they are small, the parathyroid glands are an important part of the endocrine system. Hence their name, they are located near the thyroid glands, yet are a separate gland that play a distinct role. Part of their job is to produce the parathyroid hormone, also called parathormone or parathyrin, that regulates the levels of calcium in the blood.

What are the parathyroid glands?

The parathyroid glands are small, rice-sized glands of the endocrine system located in the lower neck. They produce the parathyroid hormone and regulate blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, blood clotting and muscle contractions (neuromuscular excitation). If abnormal levels of blood calcium are detected, further testing may be conducted.

Low levels of calcium in the blood could be caused by secondary hyperparathyroidism. Conditions that lead to hyperparathyroidism and are associated with lower levels of calcium include:

  • Severe renal disease
  • Gastric and intestinal weight loss surgery
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Vitamin D deficiency

Contrarily, high levels of calcium can be caused by primary hyperparathyroidism.

What is primary hyperparathyroidism?

Primary hyperparathyroidism is a parathyroid disorder. It is characterized by an excess production of the parathyroid hormone. When this occurs, calcium blood levels become elevated and levels of vitamin D are typically lower. It is important to distinguish the difference between vitamin D deficiency and primary hyperparathyroidism.

The parathyroid glands are part of the endocrine system. Located in the neck, there are typically four tiny parathyroid glands about the size of a grain of rice. If affected by a disorder, they can abnormally grow to the size of a grape. Along with vitamin D, parathyroid hormone is the main regulator of the level of calcium in the blood. It also affects the level of phosphorus in the blood, bone cell activity and bone growth. Most individuals with primary hyperparathyroidism are asymptomatic (do not develop symptoms) or only exhibit extremely mild symptoms. While primary hyperparathyroidism mainly affects the kidneys and the skeleton, other areas of the body such as the gastrointestinal tract, heart, and nervous system can sometimes be involved. In the majority of cases (approximately 80 to 85 percent), the disorder is caused by a benign tumor called an adenoma affecting one of the four parathyroid glands.

What are metabolic bone disorders?

Metabolic bone disorders are medical conditions that affect bone strength. They are usually caused by abnormalities of minerals, vitamin D, bone mass or bone structure. Osteoporosis is the most common metabolic bone disorder. If left untreated, osteoporosis can lead to bone deformities, fragility fractures and serious disability.

What are metabolic bone, calcium and parathyroid disorders?

There are many metabolic bone, calcium and parathyroid disorders, some of the most common include:

  • Primary hyperparathyroidism, which is commonly caused by a benign tumor of a parathyroid gland
  • Skeletal disorders, including osteoporosis, osteomalacia and Paget’s disease
  • Parathyroid gland hypersecretion, an overproduction of parathyroid hormone
  • Parathyroid gland hyposecretion, an underproduction of parathyroid hormone

If you or someone you love is exhibiting symptoms of a parathyroid disorder, come to Arkansas Diabetes and Endocrinology Center for a professional medical evaluation and diagnosis. Our kind and compassionate professionals are experienced in treating patients of all backgrounds and specialize in parathyroid disorders, so you can rest assured in their expertise. At Arkansas Diabetes and Endocrinology Center, we have your best interests at heart. Our clinic is conveniently located at 11400 Huron Lane, Little Rock, Arkansas 72211. We look forward to serving you!