Providing form, stability, and movement to the human body, the musculoskeletal system consists of the body's bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, and other connective tissue. Connective tissue supports and binds tissues and organs together. Its chief components are collagen and elastic fibers, which are made up of different proteins. The musculoskeletal system undergoes many changes as people age.
Bone, Joint, and Muscle Disorders
Bone, Joint, and Muscle Disorders Sections (A-Z)
Autoimmune Disorders of Connective Tissue
In an autoimmune disorder, antibodies or cells produced by the body attack the body’s own tissues (see Autoimmune Disorders). Many autoimmune disorders affect connective tissue in a variety of organs. Connective tissue is the structural tissue that gives strength to joints, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels.
Biology of the Musculoskeletal System
The musculoskeletal system provides form, stability, and movement to the human body. It consists of the body's bones (which make up the skeleton—see page Bones), muscles (see page Muscles), tendons (see page Tendons and Bursae), ligaments (see page Ligaments), joints (see page Joints), cartilage, and other connective tissue. The term "connective tissue" is used to describe the tissue that supports and binds tissues and organs together. Its chief components are collagen and elastic fibers, which are composed of different proteins.
Bone and Joint Infections
Bone and Joint Tumors
Diagnosis of Musculoskeletal Disorders
The musculoskeletal system comprises bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and bursae. Any of these components can be injured or affected by a number of disorders. Some disorders affect primarily the joints (such as osteoarthritis), causing arthritis. Other disorders affect primarily the bones (such as fractures, Paget disease of bone, and tumors) or muscles or other soft tissues (such as fibromyalgia and tendinitis). Different diagnostic tests are available to diagnose musculoskeletal disorders, but the most important element of diagnosis is the doctor's medical history and physical examination.
Some foot problems start in the foot itself, for example, from a foot injury. Others result from disorders that affect many parts of the body, such as diabetes, gout, or other types of arthritis. Problems can occur in any bone, joint, muscle, tendon, or ligament of the foot. Foot fractures are fairly common (see page Foot Fractures). Discoloration of the toenails should always be evaluated because it may be caused by certain disorders, including a fungal infection (see page Nail Disorders).
Gout and Pseudogout
A number of different disorders may affect the hands or fingers, including ganglia, deformities, disorders related to nerves or blood vessels, osteoarthritis, trigger finger, and infections. Some other disorders that affect the hands are covered elsewhere in the book, including fractures, other injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, tendinitis and tenosynovitis, de Quervain syndrome, Raynaud syndrome, finger clubbing, and certain birth defects.
Low Back and Neck Pain
Low back and neck pain are among the most common reasons for health care visits. The pain usually results from problems with the musculoskeletal system—the spine, including the bones of the spine (backbones, or vertebrae) and the muscles and ligaments that support it. Some disorders cause only low back or neck pain. For example, lumbar spinal stenosis does not cause neck pain. Other disorders can cause both. Occasionally, low back or neck pain results from a disorder that does not involve the musculoskeletal system, such as neck pain caused by meningitis or low back pain caused by a stomach ulcer, pneumonia, premenstrual syndrome, kidney stone, or infection of the prostate gland.
Muscle, Bursa, and Tendon Disorders
The muscles, bursae, tendons, and bones must be healthy and functioning correctly for the body to move normally. Muscles, which contract to produce movement, are connected to the bones by tendons. Bursae are flat sacs containing joint (synovial) fluid. They reduce friction in areas where skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments rub over bones.
Paget Disease of Bone
Symptoms of Musculoskeletal Disorders
Musculoskeletal symptoms are very common and may arise from joints, bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, or bursas. Common symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders include pain, weakness, stiffness, joint noises, and decreased range of motion. Inflammation may cause pain, swelling, warmth, tenderness, impaired function, and sometimes redness of the overlying skin. Inflammation can result from many different musculoskeletal disorders, such as autoimmune disorders (for example, rheumatoid arthritis) and infections. When inflammation affects a joint, fluid may accumulate inside the joint, causing pain, swelling, and decreased range of motion.