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Home » The Systems of the Body » The Skeletal System

The Skeletal System:

Together, the bones of the human skeleton support the rest of the body, and give it the shape we all recognize. They also protect the vital organs and act as levers enabling movement to take place. Less obviously, they manufacture blood and store and distribute essential minerals calcium in particular. There are four types of bone, classified by shape long, short. Oat and irregular. Long bones each consist of a shaft with a knob al each end. The shaft is a thick-walled tube of dense bone filled with yellow marrow, while the ends are made of spongy bone covered by a thin layer of dense bone. Leg, arm and rib bones are typical long bones.

Short bones are box-like structures made of spongy bone enclosed in a thin crust of denser bone. They are formed in places such as the ankle and wrist where strength is required along with a capacity for limited movement. Flat bones have similar construction to that of short bones. Examples are the shoulder-blades and the skull bones. Any bones which do not fit into the other three categories are called irregular bones. They include the bones of the face and the spinal column. Spongy bone contains red marrow which produces blood cells. In children, the shafts of long bones also contain this marrow; but in adults it is replaced by yellow marrow which produces blood cells only when the body is under stress.

The bones are connected by joints, which fall into three categories: immovable, slightly movable and freely movable. Immovable joints hold the bones tightly together with tough fibrous tissue, as in the skull. Slightly movable joints hold the bones together by a disc of cartilage, as in the spine. Freely movable joints hold the bones together by a fibrous capsule containing a lubricating fluid, as in the elbows and knees.

Skeletal System: There are 206 major bones in [he human body. In a living person bones are pliable structures consisting of proteins impregnated with mineral substances. This combination gives properties of resistance to compression, tension and a certain amount of elasticity.

Bones change dramatically in shape and size with age and it is growth of bones that determines a person's adult height. Here most of the individual bones of the skeleton are shown. Bones are interconnected by means of joints, and there is great variation in the shape and mobility of joints to suit their particular functions. For example, the joints in the adult skull are usually fused together so that the bones of the skull form a solid casing to protect the brain.

In the limbs where a great deal of mobility is required, the bones are separated by joint cavities. Movable joints are supported by ligaments and are moved and partly supported by muscles. The vertebral column, or spine, surrounds and protects the spinal cord. The spinal nerves emerge from small holes in the sides of the vertebral column. Intervertebral discs lit' between the individual vertebrae. The largest discs are in the lumbar region.

Structure of the Skeleton

  1. Skull
  2. Mandible
  3. Cervical vertebrae
  4. Clavicle
  5. Scapula
  6. Humerus
  7. Ulna
  8. Radius
  9. Carpals
  10. Metacarpals
  11. Phalanges
  12. Ribs
  13. Sternum
  14. Thoracic vertebrae
  15. Lumbar vertebrae
  16. Ilium
  17. Sacrum
  18. Coccyx
  19. Femur
  20. Tibia
  21. Fibula
  22. Tarsals
  23. Metatarsals
  24. Phalanges
  25. Lumbar discs
  26. Deltoid muscle

The Skeletal System

Some Disorders of the Skeletal System

Aches, pains and stiffness in the bones and joints are a relatively common symptom in adult patients. Each year some 20 million people in the United Kingdom suffer from a skeletal disorder involving the loss of 40 million working days a year.

Among adults, some 5 million people suffer from osteoarthritis. in which the cartilage linings between the bones of the joint are worn away. Back pain alone is the next most common disorder, followed by rheumatism, a general term for any pain affecting the muscles and joints.

High-Risk Groups

  • Hospital nurses. More than 220.000 nurses in Britain suffer from back pain each year—caused by bending over bedridden patients. This can be eliminated by bending correctly.
  • People in their mid-6os and upwards. Rheumatic disorders affect at least 40 per cent of men and women aged 65. Left untreated the disorders can cripple.
  • Coal-miners, building workers and the like are prone to injuries which can lead to rheumatic disorders.

Main Symptoms of Disorder of the Skeletal System

The following symptoms all have entries in the Symptom Sorter under the part of the body affected.

  • Pain.
  • Stiffness.
  • Swelling.


If any of the following symptoms occur, a doctor should be consulted without delay.

  • Bruising, swelling or deformity of a bone, following injury, which may mean that it is fractured.
  • Joint pain.
  • Fain in the lower back radiating into the buttock, thigh and leg can be a sign of sciatica which, in turn, may indicate a more serious back disorder.
  • Neck and shoulder pain.
  • Acute pains in the limbs or joints of a growing child may indicate infection such as osteomyelitis.

How to Help Prevent Skeletal Problems

  • When lifting or carrying follow the advice  given Back Pain remedy.
  • Always wear seat-belts in a car and a crash-helmet on a motor-cycle. Wear a lightweight helmet when riding a bicycle.
  • Always wear well-fitting, low shoes

The List of Diseases Starting Letter P

Paget's Disease of the Bones Pain Pancreatitis Paratyphoid
Parkinson's Disease Paronychia Paroxysmal Tachycardia Pemphigoid
Pemphigus  Perforated Ear-Drum Pericarditis Period Problems
Perthes' Disease Pets Pharyngitis Phimosis
Photosensitivity Pigmented Naevus Piles Pityriasis Rosea
Plantar Fasciitis and Calcaneal Spur Pleurisy Pneumonia Pneumothorax
Poliomyelitis Polymyalgia Rheumatica Polyneuropathy Polyposis of the Colon
Port-Wine Stain Post-Concussional Syndrome Having a Baby Pregnancy, Diseases Of
Premenstrual Tension Prickly Heat Proctitis Prostate Gland, Enlarged
Prostatitis Psoriasis Pulmonary Embolism Pyelonephritis
Pyloric Stenosis


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