<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
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

what is the proximity of uterus or womb and kidney
Gebregiorgis Reply
yellow marrow has been identified as
Raychelle Reply
Which of the following accurately describe external resipration
Gwendolyn Reply
from the heart to the lungs
Phee
I think it's not outside organ of respiratory all respiratory organ are inside of human body
Moha
diffusion of CO2 and oxygen at a pulmonary capillary surrounding an alveolar sac.
Jeremiah
In other words, from the external environment to the lungs (alveoli) then to the pulmonary capillary then to the heart. So this is a stage of inhalation. inhale = external respiration.
Jeremiah
What kind of discussion
horyaal Reply
what is the function of the placenta
Nchimunya Reply
The placenta acts to provide oxygen and nutrientsto the fetus, whilst removing carbon dioxide and other waste products.
Moha
Also it's the barrier through which the mother is connected to the fetus.
Samuel
I want to discuss... atherosclerosis.., everything about it, about to treatment n prevention at age 50 +
Doctors
Please participate in discussion
Doctors
ok let's discuss now
Moha
first define the word artherosclerosis
Moha
a disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of fatty material on their inner walls.
tabe
hardening of the arteries, due to fats..
jenelyn
Q = which type of fat utilized for this.., I.e LDL, HDL, TG, VLDL...?
Doctors
Atherosclerosis is a condition of deposition of plaque inside the artries
Arvind
Plaque include such as fat, chalestrol, calcium etc
Arvind
Thank you kumar...., is there any way that we can protect these plaques without any medicines., I. e exercises n food stuffs
Doctors
go to the gym
Moha
what is chylomicrons?
Moha
how can plaque buildup in The angina or vessels ?
Moha
Atherosclerosis is a condition of deposition of plaque inside the artries
Doctors
atherosclerosis can also be caused by tortuousness of arteries with old age as contributing factor.
edward
You tube Prof Fink...he is an amazing lecturer and does a brilliant job on arteriosclerosis
Jacqueline
what are cell
Chigozie Reply
The basic structural and functional unit of any living thing. Each cell is a small container of chemicals and water wrapped in a membrane. 
Yusuf
cell is the structural and functional basic unit of life
Zaid
So every living thing was Created From a Cell
Anthony
from a fusion of two cells , the sperm and the egg
Shikoh
What is the only bone that doesn't have any articulation?
Jimmy
that magical fusion of cells
OBED
why body immune system attack and destroy the body own cell during type 1 diabetes?
Sanamacha Reply
It's an autoimmune disease... targeting the pancreas
Claudia
what are the three genetic defects of pregnancy?
Belinda Reply
structure of fallopian tubes
Akash Reply
what z the role played by the transport system
zinitha Reply
how fats are digested in the human body
Nabukwasi Reply
Fat digestion begins in the stomach but some argue in that it starts in the mouth. Reason is because the sublingual gland secretes an enzyme called lingual lipase. However, this enzyme is not activated until it comes into contact with gastric fluids (HCl). In the stomach, HCl breaks down the lipid..
Jeremiah
due to body heat
Mule
into smaller molecules. Going from a triglyceride and a fatty acid to a monoglyceride and a a fatty acid no longer bound to one another. This is known as lipolysis.
Jeremiah
After lipolysis in the stomach from gastric and lingual lipase, an acidic chyme is produced after stomach churning the bolus. The chyme exits the stomach at the pyloric sphincter and enters the first section of the small intestine known as the duodenum.
Jeremiah
in the duodenum. An alkaline mucus from goblet cells neutralizes the acidic chyme to prevent acid burns. After that, the pancreas and gallbladder secrete a number of enzymes to continue lipolysis. Bile from the gallbladder enters the duodenum via common bile duct. The acinar cells in the pancreas...
Jeremiah
secretes pancreatic lipase after enteroendocrine cells in the duodenum secrete a stimulator hormone called CCK. Cck stimulates bile synthesis and secretion as well as pancreatic lipase.
Jeremiah
Bile emuslifies the lipid, allowing the lipases to continue lipolysis
Jeremiah
this breakdown continues until it reaches the jejunum of the small intestines. At this point, the lipid has been broken down small enough to absorbed into the blood stream. So villi in the jejunum, absorb the contents.
Jeremiah
ileum, the last small intestine region, absorbs anything that wasn't absorbed previously. Like minerals, vitamins, bile salts, water soluble material. Villi here complete that task. Fatty acid and glycerol however, are absorbed by lacteals. small lymph vessels. And are transported to the liver.
Jeremiah
That concludes lipid digestion. Anything else that remains is deficated after it travels through the large intestines.
Jeremiah
parents with blood group AB & 0,,,what will b the blood group of their offspring
imran
what are the different branches of anatomy
Nabukwasi
hopefully that helped.
Jeremiah
which ion is low of blood level?
Ezra Reply
what is coagulation?
feng Reply
liquid turning to solid... blood clots.
Kristy
coagulation : liquid blood into blood clots caused with a coagulant.
jaime
when the blood turn from liquid form to solid
June
it said to coagulate by the action of active plasma protein called *fibrin*
Hassan
I.e liquid inform of blood when to solid
Hassan
it is the process by which blood becomes more viscous or becomes thick
CHRISTOPHER
cloting of blood cells
Kabange
clot of blood
Moses
the process of forming semi solid lumps in a liquid
rida
conversion of blood to solid state
Ezra
semi solid., rather than solid form
Doctors
what is pivot functioned
Ever
to less thefriction
Hirsi
how to calculate the micrograph
Ampong Reply
it can be used to knw the disease condition
Akbar Reply
which gland secret tears
Opoku
lacrimal glands
Diego

Get the best Anatomy & Physiology course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Anatomy & Physiology' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask