The musculoskeletal system includes bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and bursae (fluid-filled sacs). Any of these components can be injured by trauma or affected by a number of diseases causing joint, tendon, and muscle problems.
Bodily movement is made possible by the interaction of the muscular and skeletal systems; for this reason, they are often grouped together as the musculoskeletal system. The skeletal system serves many important functions, including providing the structure for the body. The skeletal system comprises 206 bones that form a rigid framework. Muscles are connected to bones by tendons. Tendons are tough yet flexible bands of fibrous tissue. Bones are connected to each other by ligaments. Ligaments are fibrous bands or sheets of connective tissue linking two or more bones, cartilages, or structures together. Where bones meet one another is called a joint. Muscles that cause movement of a joint are connected to two different bones.
The muscles contract (get shorter) and relax (get longer) to cause movement. An example would be the contraction of the biceps (a muscle located on the front of the upper arm) and a relaxation of the triceps (a muscle located on the back of the upper arm). This produces a bend at the elbow. The contraction of the triceps and relaxation of the biceps produces the effect of straightening the arm.
Common symptoms of joint, tendon, and muscle problems include inflammation, pain, weakness, stiffness, joint noises, and decreased range of motion. Inflammation can result from many conditions, including musculoskeletal disorders, autoimmune disorders, obesity, and infections. When inflammation occurs in a joint, fluid may accumulate inside the joint, causing swelling and decreased range of motion.
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