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38: The Musculoskeletal System

The muscular and skeletal systems provide support to the body and allow for a wide range of movement. The bones of the skeletal system protect the body’s internal organs and support the weight of the body. The muscles of the muscular system contract and pull on the bones, allowing for movements as diverse as standing, walking, running, and grasping items.

  • 38.0: Prelude to the Musculoskeletal System
    Injury or disease affecting the musculoskeletal system can be very debilitating. In humans, the most common musculoskeletal diseases worldwide are caused by malnutrition. Ailments that affect the joints are also widespread, such as arthritis, which can make movement difficult and—in advanced cases—completely impair mobility. In severe cases in which the joint has suffered extensive damage, joint replacement surgery may be needed.
  • 38.1: Types of Skeletal Systems
    A skeletal system is necessary to support the body, protect internal organs, and allow for the movement of an organism. There are three different skeleton designs that fulfill these functions: hydrostatic skeleton, exoskeleton, and endoskeleton.
  • 38.2: Bone
    Bone, or osseous tissue, is a connective tissue that constitutes the endoskeleton. It contains specialized cells and a matrix of mineral salts and collagen fibers.  The bones of the human skeleton are classified by their shape: long bones, short bones, flat bones, sutural bones, sesamoid bones, and irregular bones.
  • 38.3: Joints and Skeletal Movement
    The point at which two or more bones meet is called a joint, or articulation. Joints are responsible for movement, such as the movement of limbs, and stability, such as the stability found in the bones of the skull.
  • 38.4: Muscle Contraction and Locomotion
    The body contains three types of muscle tissue: skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, and smooth muscle. Skeleton muscle tissue is composed of sarcomeres, the functional units of muscle tissue. Muscle contraction occurs when sarcomeres shorten, as thick and thin filaments slide past each other, which is called the sliding filament model of muscle contraction. ATP provides the energy for cross-bridge formation and filament sliding.


  • Connie Rye (East Mississippi Community College), Robert Wise (University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh), Vladimir Jurukovski (Suffolk County Community College), Jean DeSaix (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Jung Choi (Georgia Institute of Technology), Yael Avissar (Rhode Island College) among other contributing authors. The OpenStax College name, OpenStax College logo, OpenStax College book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the creative commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University. For questions regarding this license, please contact Download for free at