Table of Contents
- HGH and Other Height Treatments
- How do we grow?
- So short stature means that a person doesn’t have enough HGH?
- By increasing our levels of HGH, can we really grow taller?
- Limb Lengthening Surgery To Grow Taller
- What’s the best way for me to get taller?
Being short is no picnic. In a society that values height, short stature can cause a number of disadvantages for people. Nowadays there are a number of treatments that promise to make us taller and improve our general health. However, it is important to examine all aspects of these treatments before beginning any of them. What is it in our bodies that helps us to grow? Is it really possible to increase our height when we are adults? Let’s discuss the answers to these questions in detail.
Human growth hormone, or HGH has many benefits and is integral to our development. HGH is generated in the pituitary gland of the brain, and it is released throughout the body in cycles. During the indirect cycle, a lower amount of HGH is released. However, in this cycle the hormone binds itself to certain cells without any changes in its composition. During the direct cycle, more HGH is released – especially when we are in REM sleep. The hormone is then changed into Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 IGF-1 in the liver, and is again released into the bloodstream to bind with our cells.
As children, the HGH that our bodies generate helps us to grow and develop. When we reach adulthood, the hormone contributes to the manufacture of cells and the functioning of our organs and immune system, strengthening of bones and muscles, and regulation of weight and metabolism. There is also some indication that as we grow older, the level of HGH that our bodies produce declines, until by the time we are in our fifties, it might be twenty-five percent lower than the original level.
Children with abnormally short stature often suffer from an HGH deficiency. Individuals who were small for their gestational age, or who have chronic kidney insufficiency tend to have lower levels of the hormone. Other children might have genetic disorders, like Prader-Willi Syndrome, or Turner’s Syndrome, which exclusively affects the development of girls. In addition to low HGH levels, these disorders can cause problems such as poor sight, a constant feeling of hunger, decrease in sex hormones, and lack of muscle tone. As adults, Turner’s and Prader-Willi Syndrome patients can have problems with their ovaries or kidneys, as well as bone and muscle issues like osteoporosis. The most common diagnosis for children, however, is Growth Hormone Deficiency. Individuals with Growth Hormone Deficiency have extremely low levels of HGH, which can cause them to grow as little as less than two inches per year between the age of two and puberty, but they may not appear to experience any other physical effects.
For most adults with short stature AKA Dwarfism, HGH deficiency is not necessarily the cause. Some adults may continue experiencing the effects of the genetic disorders that they had suffered from since childhood. However, many adults are just naturally short. There are adults with HGH deficiency, which might result from a number of different causes. Individuals with wasting diseases such as AIDS can have low levels of the hormone, as well as those with conditions like short bowel syndrome. Also, people with tumors in the brain or who receive radiation treatment for tumors may have their HGH levels adversely affected. Adults with lower levels of the hormone can suffer from general health problems including increased weight, decreased muscle tone, lessened mental focus and sexual drive, and weakened immune system and more vulnerability to disorders such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. There are also some studies that indicate common signs of aging such as wrinkled skin and gray hair might be connected to the decline of HGH in our bodies that occurs when we grow older.
Children with HGH deficiency can receive treatment to increase their hormone levels, which will have an impact not only on their height but on their overall physical health. However, such treatments must be administered before they reach an age at which their growth plates close. The most common treatment is injections of synthetic HGH like Saizen, which artificially increase the amount of the hormone in the body. This type of treatment has a record of success, but there are a few considerations that should be taken into account. First, synthetic HGH (Somatropin) is only available with a doctor’s prescription, which can be inconvenient. Any product obtained without a prescription cannot be guaranteed to be safe or effective for use in humans. Also, the hormone can only be given in the form of injections, which is difficult for those individuals who dislike needles. However, the manufacturers of artificial HGH use insulin needles for the injections, thus considerably lessening the chance of pain. In addition, HGH injections can be prohibitively expensive. According to one source, they can cost as much as US$30,000 annually.
Finally, HGH injections might cause adverse side effects in the patient. Minor side effects can entail swelling and irritation around the injection site, changes in mood, and pain in the joints and muscles. More severe effects might include elevated blood sugar and pressure on the brain. The most severe side effect that has been noted is that HGH injections caused death in some individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome. However, those children were also extremely overweight and suffered from lung infection or difficulty breathing.
Treatment for adults of short stature does not usually involve artificial HGH. On the other hand, one possible treatment to increase height entails a regular schedule of exercise. The theory is that anaerobic, resistance, hanging and stretching exercises, most often in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can cause spikes in the level of HGH that is released into the body. These exercises might involve weight-lifting, playing basketball, swimming, and stretching. In fact, one source even claims that rapid, high-intensity exercise can increase HGH levels. The greater amount of HGH in the body can help create more bone cells, which will strengthen and elongate the limbs, adding to an individual’s height. In addition, HGH plays a part in the manufacture of cartilage, which forms a cushion around the ends of the bone. When the bone is finished growing, the cartilage disappears. With exercise and an increase in HGH, the amount of cartilage also grows, and it does not disappear as quickly, adding to the potential of the bone to elongate and increasing the person’s height. However, there is not a great deal of evidence that generating more HGH can augments height in adults. Exercise and healthy diet can positively impact a person’s general physical health, but it does not appear likely that it can significantly increase the stature of a person after their plates have fused.
Another type of treatment that is becoming more common is limb-lengthening surgery. This process involves a break or incision being made in the bone. Often, an external fixator is then fastened to the bone with wires, screws or pins. These can be either straight or circular. At other times, a metal rod is inserted into the bone marrow before the external fixator is applied, reducing the time that it is necessary for the patient to wear the fixator. Nowadays implantable prostheses and nails have also been developed, which take away the need for an external fixator at all. After the surgery, the distraction phase begins. During this time, the patient must turn the external fixator or exert pressure on the limb where the implantable nails have been placed. This will cause the bone to pull apart at the average rate of a millimeter per day, allowing new bone and tissue to form in the space and making the bone longer. When the bone has reached the desired length, the consolidation phase begins. At this time the external fixator is no longer turned, and may even be removed if a metal rod has been implanted in the bone. If implantable prostheses are present, no more pressure is exerted on the limb. This allows the new tissue and bone to harden and heal, elongating the limb.
Limb-lengthening surgery can successfully increase an adult’s height. However, it is not designed to have any impact on HGH levels or overall physical health. Moreover, there are some important considerations that should be taken into account before having the surgery. First, it can be very expensive. According to some sources, it might cost over US$80,000. Also, because very few doctors in the United States do the surgery, most patients have to go outside the country for the procedure to be done.
In addition, the initial surgery requires a stay in the hospital of one to three days, and during the distraction and consolidation phases the patient must have regular physical therapy and X-rays. With an external fixator, treatment and healing time can take two months per centimeter of new bone. Even after the consolidation phase is complete, patients may have to wear a cast on the limb to make sure that the new bone is protected. Furthermore, some doctors say that the pain from the procedure is easily manageable with pain medication. However, a number of previous patients have described the experience as excruciating. Also, while doctors say that there is not a large risk of complications arising from the surgery, according to an article from the journal International Orthopaedics dated 2006, complications such as hip problems, unbalanced or uneven limbs, nerve damage, or paralysis frequently occur. Other possible complications include tissue damage and bone defects. If these problems are not corrected before the new bone hardens, it can require more surgery and time in the hospital for patients. Finally, after all the trouble and expense of the procedure, the average height increase for most patients is only two to four inches.
The best choice is to examine all the options and discuss them with your doctor before beginning a course of treatment. You have to decide for yourself if the procedure is worth the risk, pain, effort and expense. Also, it may be a good idea to take your overall physical health into consideration. Many people have found that a healthy diet and lifestyle, along with regular exercise and a natural HGH supplement improves their general health and makes them feel better about themselves and their height. The benefits of HGH supplements include the fact that they are available over the counter, for a more reasonable price than hormone injections, and include only natural ingredients that stimulate the pituitary gland to produce more HGH without the need for artificial material. They have the potential positively to help with overall physical wellness. Despite all the disadvantages that can come with being short in our society, perhaps the most important question to answer is how we can feel the best about ourselves, both in terms of health and of stature.