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Basics of the Skeletal System

May 25, 2016 2 Comments

“The foot bone’s connected to the… leg bone! The leg bone’s connected to the… hip bone…” Do you know how long I’ve been dying to write that on the Back to Basics Care website??? Hi, I’m Reg – and if you don’t know me (or haven’t had the pleasure of making my acquaintance) – I’m the resident skeleton here at Back to Basics Care.

Reg of Back to Basics CareYou will see that I specialise in Body Systems, and today I’d like to touch (no pun intended) on the Skeletal System.

The human body is amazing… and I am the perfect testament to that! Did you know that there are 206 bones in the human body? The longest bone is the Femur (the thigh bone aka femoral bone), the smallest bone is the stapes (or stirrup bone) inside the ear – and it is around 3mm in length. Wowsers!

The skeletal system is made up of:

  • bones
  • cartilage
  • ligaments
  • joints

Bones anchor your muscles and provide support to your skin and internal organs.

The skeleton is divided into the axial and appendicular skeletons.


Axial Skeleton

The axial skeleton comprises of the upper body bones (80 bones), including:

  • the vertebrae (backbone)
  • skull (your noggen)
  • ribs
  • breastbone

Appendicular Skeleton

The appendicular skeleton comprises of the remaining bones, including:

  • limbs (arms and legs)
  • shoulder bones
  • hip bones

Bone Density, Strength and Flexibility

While healthy bones are strong, did you know in the majority of cases they represent only around 14% of body weight? How efficient is that?! Your bone density is made up of deposits of calcium, phosphate and other minerals. Your bones are flexible to a certain point due to collagen fibres that have stretching properties. There are rods that reinforce the outside of your bones, giving them strength, which are called osteons.

Bone Marrow

The inside of a bone has a sponge-like matrix of trabeculae (struts) that act as shock absorbers. This structure resembles honeycomb. The core of our bones is the bone marrow. Marrow is like jelly and is rich in nutrients.

Red marrow indicates blood production. Yellow marrow indicates fat storage. Bone marrow as a child is red, and changes to yellow as a person ages. Red marrow exists in adults at the end of long bones, within the skull and also in the scapula (shoulder bone), breastbone and pelvis. The vertebrae and ribs contain some red marrow as well.

Bone marrow plays a role in the production of white blood cells as well as red. Stem cells start their existence in the bone marrow and go through a changing process to become a red or white blood cell.

White blood cells fight sickness and disease, and white cells such as lymphoblasts. This cell then changes into other types of white blood cells to increase a person’s ability to fight infection. When people are sick with illnesses that are related to their immune system, bone marrow transplants can improve their ability to fight infection.

About the Author:

Reg, while being the perfect specimen of the human body, is the man of the hour when it comes to studying ‘Body Systems’. He is committed to improving your understanding of the body’s structure and functions, and is excited to share articles on the subject in his own unique and quirky manner.

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