Muscle to Stone

By Katherine Christians

 

Imagine bumping into a table with a knee and getting a swollen lump where it was hit. A little while later, that lump hardens, and suddenly the person can’t move that joint. Underneath the skin, the muscles and ligaments turned into bone.

Though it might seem like it is impossible, there is a disorder that one in two million people have which turns muscle to bone, resulting in a second skeleton. This disorder is called Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, or FOP.

Early signs are abnormally big toes, short thumbs, and other skeletal and muscle abnormalities. FOP is usually discovered around the age of three, but it can sometimes be discovered at a later age.

Some people with FOP have been able to live an average life for a short time, until they have lost all, or most, of their

Example of this "second skeleton".

Example of this “second skeleton”.

mobility. Other people choose to play it safe in order to be mobile for a longer amount of time. This disorder has no cure.

There seems to be a big focus on “headline diseases” that are very common. These are the diseases that are very well known, such as cancer or HIV-AIDS. People with less well-known diseases or disorders like FOP are much less likely to get adequate treatment or be cured.

Funding is rarely allocated to research rare diseases because there are not enough patients to make money off any resulting treatments. Without a proper amount of attention to any of the less well known disorders, there will be no hope for the people suffering from these serious and disheartening diseases.

 

For more information, see https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/fibrodysplasia-ossificans-progressiva.

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