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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Define bone, cartilage, and the skeletal system
  • List and describe the functions of the skeletal system

Bone , or osseous tissue    , is a hard, dense connective tissue that forms most of the adult skeleton, the support structure of the body. In the areas of the skeleton where bones move (for example, the ribcage and joints), cartilage    , a semi-rigid form of connective tissue, provides flexibility and smooth surfaces for movement. The skeletal system    is the body system composed of bones and cartilage and performs the following critical functions for the human body:

  • supports the body
  • facilitates movement
  • protects internal organs
  • produces blood cells
  • stores and releases minerals and fat

Support, movement, and protection

The most apparent functions of the skeletal system are the gross functions—those visible by observation. Simply by looking at a person, you can see how the bones support, facilitate movement, and protect the human body.

Just as the steel beams of a building provide a scaffold to support its weight, the bones and cartilage of your skeletal system compose the scaffold that supports the rest of your body. Without the skeletal system, you would be a limp mass of organs, muscle, and skin.

Bones also facilitate movement by serving as points of attachment for your muscles. While some bones only serve as a support for the muscles, others also transmit the forces produced when your muscles contract. From a mechanical point of view, bones act as levers and joints serve as fulcrums ( [link] ). Unless a muscle spans a joint and contracts, a bone is not going to move. For information on the interaction of the skeletal and muscular systems, that is, the musculoskeletal system, seek additional content.

Bones support movement

This photo shows a man exercising on a leg press machine at a gym.
Bones act as levers when muscles span a joint and contract. (credit: Benjamin J. DeLong)

Bones also protect internal organs from injury by covering or surrounding them. For example, your ribs protect your lungs and heart, the bones of your vertebral column (spine) protect your spinal cord, and the bones of your cranium (skull) protect your brain ( [link] ).

Bones protect brain

This illustration shows how the cranium protects and surrounds the brain. Only the outline of the cranium is visible, which is made transparent to show how the brain sits in the skull. There is a small amount of space between the brain and the cranium but the top and sides of the brain are completely protected by the cranial bones. The bottom of the brain extends below the cranial bones, with the base of the cerebellum seated just above the roof of the mouth. The medulla extends to the bottom of the skull where it meets with the spinal cord.
The cranium completely surrounds and protects the brain from non-traumatic injury.

Career connection

Orthopedist

An orthopedist    is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders and injuries related to the musculoskeletal system. Some orthopedic problems can be treated with medications, exercises, braces, and other devices, but others may be best treated with surgery ( [link] ).

Arm brace

This photo shows a man wearing a black arm brace on his upper arm and forearm. The brace is composed of an L shaped metal piece attached to an adjustable joint and four adjustable straps. The joint occurs at the elbow. One of the metal bars projects proximally from the joint up the forearm towards the shoulder. This bar is secured with two black straps to a foam cuff that wraps around the entire upper arm. The other metal bar projects distally from the joint, down the forearm, to the wrist. This bar is secured by two smaller foam wraps, one wrapping around the middle of the forearm and the other wrapping around the wrist.
An orthopedist will sometimes prescribe the use of a brace that reinforces the underlying bone structure it is being used to support. (credit: Juhan Sonin)

While the origin of the word “orthopedics” (ortho- = “straight”; paed- = “child”), literally means “straightening of the child,” orthopedists can have patients who range from pediatric to geriatric. In recent years, orthopedists have even performed prenatal surgery to correct spina bifida, a congenital defect in which the neural canal in the spine of the fetus fails to close completely during embryologic development.

Orthopedists commonly treat bone and joint injuries but they also treat other bone conditions including curvature of the spine. Lateral curvatures (scoliosis) can be severe enough to slip under the shoulder blade (scapula) forcing it up as a hump. Spinal curvatures can also be excessive dorsoventrally (kyphosis) causing a hunch back and thoracic compression. These curvatures often appear in preteens as the result of poor posture, abnormal growth, or indeterminate causes. Mostly, they are readily treated by orthopedists. As people age, accumulated spinal column injuries and diseases like osteoporosis can also lead to curvatures of the spine, hence the stooping you sometimes see in the elderly.

Some orthopedists sub-specialize in sports medicine, which addresses both simple injuries, such as a sprained ankle, and complex injuries, such as a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder. Treatment can range from exercise to surgery.

Mineral storage, energy storage, and hematopoiesis

On a metabolic level, bone tissue performs several critical functions. For one, the bone matrix acts as a reservoir for a number of minerals important to the functioning of the body, especially calcium, and phosphorus. These minerals, incorporated into bone tissue, can be released back into the bloodstream to maintain levels needed to support physiological processes. Calcium ions, for example, are essential for muscle contractions and controlling the flow of other ions involved in the transmission of nerve impulses.

Bone also serves as a site for fat storage and blood cell production. The softer connective tissue that fills the interior of most bone is referred to as bone marrow ( [link] ). There are two types of bone marrow: yellow marrow and red marrow. Yellow marrow contains adipose tissue; the triglycerides stored in the adipocytes of the tissue can serve as a source of energy. Red marrow is where hematopoiesis    —the production of blood cells—takes place. Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are all produced in the red marrow.

Head of femur showing red and yellow marrow

This photo shows the head of the femur detached from the rest of the bone. The compact bone at the surface of the head has been removed to show the spongy bone beneath. Rather than being solid, like the compact bone, the spongy bone is mesh like with many open spaces, giving it the appearance of a sponge. A circle of yellow marrow is located at the exact center of the spongy bone. The red marrow surrounds the yellow marrow, occupying most of the interior space of the head.
The head of the femur contains both yellow and red marrow. Yellow marrow stores fat. Red marrow is responsible for hematopoiesis. (credit: modification of work by “stevenfruitsmaak”/Wikimedia Commons)

Chapter review

The major functions of the bones are body support, facilitation of movement, protection of internal organs, storage of minerals and fat, and hematopoiesis. Together, the muscular system and skeletal system are known as the musculoskeletal system.

Questions & Answers

briefly explain the similarities between transcription and DNA replication
Emmanuel Reply
transcription copies DNA into RNA while replication makes another copy of DNA
Goode
A general explanation: Replication occurs when a copy of DNA is made. Transcription is the first step in the process of protein synthesis. Messenger RNA is made using a portion of the DNA molecule as a template.
Lessa
what is the main function of the pcn?
DAVID Reply
career in the health professions, respond appropriately to signs of illness, help you in your roles as a parent, spouse
Coach Reply
student would have an appreciation of the heart anatomy to give understanding of anatomy while opening ideas of function and physiology
Coach
study of the parts of the body
Coach
macro anatomy, study of big structures of the body that can be viewed with the naked eye
Coach
that is called gross anatomy
Patrick
what is integumentry
Amiebo Reply
chemical level cell level tissue level organs level organ system organism
sam Reply
when you sitting close to a campfire your sense smell adapts the smell but when the trace of smoke is introduced into your environments it becomes unsual for you
sam
I need to know mechanism of body fluid
johnson
OK but I need to know where are you coming from
johnson
ask how
Amiebo
oh ft, help out with integumentary system now
Amiebo
Pls give me a brief description of vetebra
Deborah Reply
7 cervical (c1 atlas and c2 axis help the neck rotate) 12 thoracic 5 lumbar 1 sacral and 2 coccyx
Anna
breakfast at 7, lunch at 12, and dinner at 5. sacrum holds 5, coccyx holds 4
Patrick
really there's just one coccyx and sacrum
Patrick
atlas like the Greek God holds the weight of the world on top of him
Patrick
elasticity of the vagina
Mariam Reply
The vagina is an elastic muscular wall
antouman
*organ
antouman
It has I think squamous cuboidal or maybe columnar epithelium designed for secretion, expansion and friction.
Patrick
how can you remember the integumentary system
Naomi Reply
integumentary system is the skin the skin is protection all the body and contain deid cells
Drs
how can you remember the formation of bone?
Maame
the largest organ of the body
Toni
skin is largest organ
Zara
what is the best way to remember the cranial bones or any other bones ?
Savannah
skeletal system?
Savannah
look at the diagram structure and then remember it considering it your own body i memorise like that
Zara
hi guys! do you have to remember ALL the structures of the bones- I mean every single hole, depression or tuberosity?
Kristina
tuborisity
Zara
hey guz i hv to remember Immune antibodies and antigens how? i found it difficult
Zara
well, they are all grouped, aren't they? I mean they all come in series like H1, H2A, H2B and so on. In this case I learn the common part first and then that what's different
Kristina
nd what about IgG , IgE etc.
Zara
the majors
Toni
the thin skin does not have stratum lucidium I believe
Patrick
acronyms
Patrick
if u know the bones, the muscle has part of the name of the bone in it
Patrick
epidermis, I believe epi means on top. dermis in the middle and hypodermis, hypo meaning below. the hypodermis is actually considered not part of the skin or int system
Patrick
big sweet guys love candy = basale, spinosum, granulosum, lucidum ( only in thick skin), corneum
Anna
I love it ☝🏾
Savannah
thank you Zara !
Savannah
can anyone send diet plan for asthma patients
waseem
is
Drs
hey
Daud
jam how are you
Daud
Hey guys l am Matrin
Matrin
blood is a connective tissue which transport oxygen and other nutrients to body
Zara Reply
which type of protein is blood?
Zara
what is blood?
Masthan Reply
blood is a connective tissue which transport oxygen and nutrients to body
Zara
which type of protein is blood?
Zara
haemoglobin
Rashid
and what about its structure i think its Quartenary structure 🤔💭
Zara
yes it is
Rashid
it is globular
Rashid
a vascular structure compose of vessels.
Toni
what is the functions of lymph
moula Reply
what is plasma
Chukwu Reply
A plasma is a hot ionized gas consisting of approximately af a equal number of positive ly charged ionized and negative ly charged electron is called plasma.
Muhammad
what is an atomical position?
Madinatu
military position, body erect where by the body will be up straight..the cephalic and thoracic are straight
Mwita
functions of plasma membrane
Dinyando Reply
what is heparin
Lawrence Reply
why is it anatomy
Tenacious Reply
hello
ASIMENU
hi
asare
hws life
Tenacious
anatomy is the scientific study of the body's structure
Lawrence
great
Lawrence
good night
Kaaya
anatomy is the study of form, physiology is the study of function
Patrick
anatomy is the study of the structure of the body and the physical relationship between it constituent part
Florence
what is heparin
Lawrence
what is the trunk
Tenacious
trunk is define as a person's or animal's body apart from the limp and head
Lawrence
The trunk is part of the axial skeleton
Patrick
hellow friends
mickson
hi friends
mickson
Hi
REEMA
hii
sampath
hi
Inayat
am fine
Ematai

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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