The musculoskeletal system is a type of organ system that allows for movement and stability of the body and consists of bones, muscles, joints, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, bursae (fluid-filled sacs), and other connective tissue. Complications arising when individual parts of this bodily system are injured can range from minor discomfort to serious medical conditions. Symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) can be acute or chronic and may include inflammation, swelling, pain, fatigue, weakness, joint noises and stiffness, limited range of motion, and lack of coordination.
The skeletal system serves many important functions, including providing structure, shape, form, support, and protection for the body. The skeletal system also allows for bodily movement, produces blood for the body, and stores minerals. The skeletal system consists of 206 bones that form a rigid framework as well as protect soft tissues and vital organs of the body. For example, the brain is protected by the skull which surrounds it and the heart and lungs are enclosed in the sternum and rib cage.
Bodily movement is made possible by the interaction of the muscular and skeletal systems. For this reason, they are often grouped together as the musculoskeletal system. Muscles are connected to bones by tendons. Bones are connected to each other by ligaments. Where bones meet one another is called a joint. Muscles that cause movement of a joint are connected to two different bones. The muscles contract and relax to cause movement. An example would be the contraction of the biceps and a relaxation of the triceps. This produces a bend at the elbow. The contraction of the triceps and relaxation of the biceps produces the effect of straightening the arm.
Muscles are very specialized tissues that have the ability to contract and to conduct electrical impulses. Muscles are classified functionally as either voluntary or involuntary and structurally as either striated or smooth. From this organization, there are three types of muscles: smooth (involuntary) muscles, striated voluntary (skeletal) muscles, and striated involuntary (cardiac) muscles.
Red blood cells are produced by the red marrow located in certain bones, including flat bones such as the hip bone, skull, and breastbone. An average of 2.6 million red blood cells is produced each second by the bone marrow to replace those damaged and destroyed by the liver.
Bones also serve as a storage area for minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. When an excess of these minerals is present in the blood, a buildup of the mineral will occur within the bones. When the supply of these minerals within the blood is low, it will be withdrawn from the bones to replenish the supply.
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types of musculoskeletal problems
Arthritis: Arthritis is a disorder that involves joint inflammation or swelling. More than 100 different diseases fall under the general category of arthritis. Arthritis conditions affect the joints, the tissues surrounding the affected joints, and other connective tissues. Common forms of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and periarthritis.
Muscular dystrophy: Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of rare inherited autoimmune muscle diseases in which muscle fibers are unusually susceptible to damage. Muscles, including primarily voluntary muscles, become progressively weaker due to muscle damage. In some types of muscular dystrophy, heart muscles, other involuntary muscles, and other organs are affected.
The most common types of muscular dystrophy have been found to be due to a genetic deficiency of the muscle protein dystrophin. A cure for muscular dystrophy has not been found, but medications and therapy can slow the course of the disease.
Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia, also known as fibromyositis or fibrositis, is a chronic (long-term) condition characterized by widespread, long-term pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points (places on the body where slight pressure causes pain). In addition to muscular pain and fatigue, fibromyalgia can also cause sleep problems, depression, and an inability to think clearly.
Although fibromyalgia affects about four million Americans, the vast majority of them are women in their mid-30s to late-50s. An estimate of the prevalence of fibromyalgia is as high as 3-5% of the population in the United States, or approximately six million people. Fibromyalgia symptoms may never completely resolve, and their intensity can vary. Although the symptoms of fibromyalgia may be hard to live with, the condition is not considered progressive or life-threatening.
Joint stiffness: Joint stiffness is the feeling that motion of a joint is limited or difficult. Some people with joint stiffness are capable of moving the joint through its full range of motion, but some individuals cannot move the joint due to the pain they are experiencing. Joint stiffness is common with arthritis and usually occurs immediately when rising after lying or sitting still.
Joint noises: Joint noises, such as creaks and clicks, are common and harmless in many individuals, but they can also occur with specific problems of the joints. For example, the base of the knee cap may creak when it is damaged by osteoarthritis.
Temporomandibular joint disorder: Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD, TMJ, or TMD), or TMJ syndrome, is an umbrella term covering acute or chronic inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the lower jaw to the skull. TMJ can result in significant pain and impairment. TMJ may require surgical repair.