Bone mineral loss and recovery after 17 weeks of bed rest

J Bone Miner Res. 1990 Aug;5(8):843-50. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.5650050807.


The purpose of this work was to determine the rate and extent of bone loss and recovery from long-term disuse and in particular from disuse after exposure to weightlessness. For this purpose, bed rest is used to simulate the reduced stress and strain on the skeleton. This study reports on the bone loss and recovery after 17 weeks of continuous bed rest and 6 months of reambulation in six normal male volunteers. Bone regions measured were the lumbar spine, hip, tibia, forearm, calcaneus, total body, and segmental regions from the total-body scan. The total body, lumbar spine, femoral neck, trochanter, tibia, and calcaneus demonstrated significant loss, p less than 0.05. Expressed as the percentage change from baseline, these were 1.4, 3.9, 3.6, 4.6, 2.2, and 10.4, respectively. Although several areas showed positive slopes during reambulation, only the calcaneus was significant (p less than 0.05), with nearly 100% recovery. Segmental analysis of the total-body scans showed significant loss (p less than 0.05) in the lumbar spine, total spine, pelvis, trunk, and legs. During reambulation, the majority of the regions demonstrated positive slopes, although only the pelvis and trunk were significant (p less than 0.05). Potential redistribution of bone mineral was observed: during bed rest the bone mineral increased in the skull of all subjects. The change in total BMD and calcium from calcium balance were significantly (p less than 0.05) correlated, R = 0.88.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bed Rest / adverse effects*
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Time Factors


  • Calcium