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The Skeletal System

The skeletal system has five key functions: (1) protection of vital internal
organs, (2) providing for support for the muscles and tissues of the body,
(3) instruments of movement of the joints initiated by muscles, (4)
creation of blood cells, and (5) energy storage.

There are two parts of the skeletal system; the axial skeleton (skull,
spine, sternum and ribs) and the appendicular skeleton (upper and lower
extremities, pectoral and pelvic bones). These two skeletons are made
up of 206 bones with over half of these bones found in the hands and

The axial skeleton, making up 80 of the 206 bones, includes all upper
body bones. It is subdivided into three groups: the skull, the vertebral
column, and the bony thorax. The main functions of this skeleton are to
protect vital organs, such as the brain, heart, and lungs, and to provide a
competent structure for movement.

The skeletal system contributes to the maintenance of homeostasis by serving as an important mineral reserve. If blood
levels of calcium or magnesium are low and the minerals are not available in the diet, they will be taken from the bones.
Also, the skeletal system provides calcium needed for all muscular contraction. Red blood cells, lymphocytes and other
cells relating to the immune response are produced and stored in the bone marrow.

• The bones of the skull can be categorised into two

groups, the cranium and face. The skull is an important Like all systems in the body, the skeletal
system is affected by age. As the body ages,
structure as it contains and protects the brain. The skull
bone tissue tends to lose more calcium than is
provides the framework for most of the sensory organs, replaced. The effects of aging on the skeletal
such as eyes, ears, tongue, nose, and some skin. It is system can be lessened by following a healthy
made up of 22 cranial or facial bones, plus three bones lifestyle.
(Malleus, Incus, and stapes) in each ear. These bones
transmit sound waves from the external environment into
the cochlea.
• The thorax (chest) is the sternum and ribs. The sternum
spans about half the length of the ribs. There are twelve
ribs forming the structure of the chest. Except the 11th
and 12th pair of ribs (floating ribs), each rib connects to
A proper diet and exercise are key factors
the sternum by cartilage on the tips. Pairs one to seven in maintaining the health of the skeletal
connect directly to the sternum. Pairs 8 to 10 attach to system. To help slow the rate of bone loss
the sternum indirectly (false ribs). The primary purpose later in life, it is important to build as much
of the ribs is to protect your lungs and the heart. bone mass as possible early in life.
• The Vertebral Column or spine is a flexible structure Without calcium, phosphorus, protein,
made of 26 bones. An infant has 33 vertebrae, but the certain vitamins (A, C, and D), and other
nutrients, bones cannot grow properly.
lower four fuse to form the coccyx, and the next lower
Bones are specialized to bear or carry
five fuse to become the sacrum. The spine serves weight. Without this stress, they lose
several important functions. It provides structure from calcium. Bones have to be physically
which all other upper body structures branch, and it stressed to remain healthy. The more they
protects the spinal nerve. The spine is separated into are used, the stronger they become.
five regions. The last two, the coccyx and sacrum, are Exercising regularly builds and
separated by the fused vertebrae. The remaining regions strengthens bones. Weight-bearing
exercises where bones and muscles are
are: the cervical curvature made of 7 vertebrae, the
used against gravity are best. These
thoracic region made of 12 vertebrae, and the lumbar include aerobics, dancing, jogging, stair
made of 5 vertebrae. climbing, walking, tennis, and lifting
The Skeletal System
The Appendicular skeleton; provides (a) movement for the body (b) protects the organs of digestion, excretion and
production. The Appendicular skeleton includes bones of the shoulder, arm, hand, pelvis, leg and foot. The
Appendicular skeleton interacts with the muscular system to maintain homeostasis. These systems work together
with the bones of the appendicular skeleton providing attachment points and leverage for muscles, which aids body

• The pectoral girdle: the shoulder is made up of 4 bones, the

clavicle (2) and the scapula (2). There are 3 joints in the pectoral
girdle, the glen humeral, acromioclavicular and the
sternoclavicular. The primary function of the pectoral girdle is to
provide an attachment point for the numerous muscles that allow
the shoulder and elbow joints to move. It also provides the
connection between the upper extremities (the arms) and the axial

• The Humerus bone makes up the upper arm between the elbow and the shoulder. It is attached to the lateral
end of the scapula, articulating there in a ball joint. Distally, it attaches to the ulna in a hinge joint. The
humerus enables the upper extremity to reach, pull, lift, push and rotate objects.

• Radius and Ulna: The radius is the lateral bone of the forearm (located on the thumb side); Ulna is the medial
bone of the forearm (located on the little finger side). The ulna's function is flexion and extension while the
function of the radius is supination and pronation (rotation).

• Wrist and hand: The wrist bones are known as the carpals; the hand bones include the metacarpals and
phalanges. The carpal bones allow the wrist to flex, extend, supinate and pronate. The wrist is considered a
hinge joint.

• Pelvis: The Pelvic girdle is made up of 2 hip bones also called

coxal or pelvic bones and the sacrum. The hip bones unite
anteriorly at a joint called the pubic symphysis and posteriorly
with the sacrum at the sacroiliac joints. The pelvic girdle
supports the weight of the body and also functions by
protecting organs.

• Femur: or thigh bone is the largest and strongest bone in the human body. It articulates with the hip at
the hip joint and the bones of the lower leg at the knee joint. It functions by providing support to the
entire skeletal system and provides movement to the lower limbs.

• Knee joint: is an articulation point between 3 bones: the femur, tibia and fibula. The joint is held together
by anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments and provides motion for the lower leg.
• Tibia and fibula: The tibia or shin bone is the larger of the 2 bones and is the weight bearing bone. The
fibula is parallel and lateral to the tibia and helps stabilize the ankle joint.

• Ankle and foot: The tarsal bones are a group of bones that make up the ankle. The type of joint is a
synovial hinge joint. The foot is made up of Metatarsal bones and phalange bones. The first metatarsal
(which adjoins the phalanges of the big toe) is enlarged and strengthened for its weight-bearing function
in standing and walking on two feet.