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Biology LibreTexts

14: Skeletal System

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  • This chapter describes the structure and functions of the skeletal system and its two major divisions, the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton. It details the structure of bone, how bones grow, and how they are remodeled and repaired. The chapter also explains how joints work and how they are classified as well as the causes and effects of major skeletal system disorders.

    • 14.1: Case Study: Your Support System
      Melissa loves wearing high heels when she goes out at night, like the stiletto heels shown above. She knows they are not the most practical shoes, but she likes how they look. Lately she has been experiencing pain in the balls of her feet — the area just behind the toes. Even when she trades her heels for comfortable sneakers, it still hurts when she stands or walks.
    • 14.2: Introduction to the Skeletal System
      The skull and cross-bones symbol has been used for a very long time to represent death, perhaps because after death and decomposition, bones are all that remain. Many people think of bones as being dead, dry, and brittle. These adjectives may correctly describe the bones of a preserved skeleton, but the bones of a living human being are very much alive. Living bones are also strong and flexible. Bones are the major organs of the skeletal system.
    • 14.3: Divisions of the Skeletal System
      This somewhat macabre display can be viewed at the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava, Slovakia. The skulls are meant to represent normal human skeletal anatomy. The skull is part of the axial skeleton, which is one of the two major divisions of the human skeleton. The other division is the appendicular skeleton.
    • 14.4: Structure of Bone
      Do you recognize the food item in the top left of this photo? It’s roasted bone marrow, still inside the bones. It’s considered a delicacy in some cuisines. Marrow is a type of tissue found inside many animal bones, including our own. It’s a soft tissue that in adults may be mostly fat. You’ll learn more about bone marrow and other tissues that make up bones when you read this concept.
    • 14.5: Bone Growth, Remodeling, and Repair
      Did you ever break a leg or other bone, like the man looking longingly at the water in this swimming pool? Having a broken bone can really restrict your activity. Bones are very hard, but they will break, or fracture, if enough force is applied to them. Fortunately, bones are highly active organs that can repair themselves if they break. Bones can also remodel themselves and grow. You’ll learn how bones can do all of these things in this concept.
    • 14.6: Joints
      Joints are locations at which bones of the skeleton connect with one another. A joint is also called an articulation. The majority of joints are structured in such a way that they allow movement. However, not all joints allow movement. Of joints that do allow movement, the extent and direction of the movements they allow also vary.
    • 14.7: Disorders of the Skeletal System
      The woman on the right in this image has a deformity in her back commonly called dowager’s (widow’s) hump, because it occurs most often in elderly women. Its medical name is kyphosis, and it is defined as excessive curvature of the spinal column in the thoracic region. The curvature generally results from fractures of thoracic vertebrae. As the inset drawings suggest, these fractures may occur due to a significant decrease in bone mass, which is called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is one of the mo
    • 14.8: Case Study Heels Conclusion and Chapter Summary
      You may have seen signs such as this one indicating that high-heeled shoes are not allowed on certain walking surfaces because of the risk of injury. High heels affect a person’s balance, and wearers can easily twist their ankle on uneven or slippery surfaces, causing a sprain or even a fracture. Besides twisting an ankle, wearing high heels on a regular basis can cause a variety of other negative health consequences — some of which may be long-lasting.