The skeletal system
Our skeletal system is our body central framework. It is made up of the bones, cartilage, joints, ligaments and tendons. Together these components create a support structure for all of our tissue and organs.
Our skeletal system has many functions, such as:
- Allows the movement of our body. Our bones work together with our joints, connective tissues and muscles to support our body weight, helping us to stand upright and to do everyday movement.
- Mineral storage. Our bones store minerals such as calcium and phosphorus.
- Protects and supports organs. Our brains and other organs such as heart and lungs are protected by our bones such as the skull and ribcage.
- Bone contains bone marrows that are responsible in producing blood cells.
Conditions that affect our bones and joint
There are many conditions that will affect our bones and joints. Some happen as a result of injury or disease while others develop due to wear and tear as we age.
Below are a few examples of conditions that will affect our bones and joint:
- Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis happens when we do not get enough calcium and our bone loss is more than the creation of new bones. It affects both men and women but it is more common in older women post menopause. This condition causes bones to become fragile and brittle, so a fall or even mild cough and bending over can cause a fracture.
- Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when cartilage in our joints wears down over time due to injuries or aging. Therefore it is sometimes called “wear and tear” arthritis. People experiencing osteoarthritis will suffer from pain, stiffness and swelling.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that our body immune’s system mistaken our body healthy cells as foreign cells and attacks them. Symptoms such as stiffness, swelling and pain of the joints may start slowly and often get worse gradually over time.
- Falls and fracture. Falls can cause bones to be broken, such as fractures of the wrist, arm, ankle and hip. Falls can also cause serious injuries such as a head injury.
How to improve your bone and joints health
It is never too late to take care of our bones and joints. Besides providing balance and support, strong bones enable us to have a better posture and this in turn improves our appearance and make us look and feel more youthful. There are a few ways that we can improve our bone health and build healthy bones and joints:
- Eat a well balanced diet and foods for bone health especially those rich in Calcium and Vitamin D. Calcium is important for bone health as it plays a crucial role in bone formation and maintaining strong bones. Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products are a few examples that contain good source of Calcium. Vitamin D is important for bone health as it helps in the absorption of Calcium. Foods such as seeds, nuts and those rich in Omega 3 are foods that are good for joint health too.
- Take nutrients and supplements for bone and joints health. Sometimes it is hard to get adequate Calcium from diet alone especially those who avoid dairy product such as vegans. Furthermore, getting enough Vitamin D from what we eat is also very difficult as few will meet the daily recommended levels for optimal bone health. Calcium and Vitamin D supplements or Glucosamine Sulphate and Chondroitin Sulphate are supplements that are beneficial to our bones and joints.
- As our muscles are closely related to our bones and joints, it’s also important to improve our muscle health. Supplements such as Magnesium can help with relaxing our muscles.
- Get adequate physical activities. Just like our muscles, bones will become stronger with movement and exercise. Weight bearing or strength building exercises are good for strengthening our bones. Try to also include 30 minutes of exercise each day such as walking, running, dancing or even climbing the stairs.
- Stop smoking. Studies had shown that tobacco smoke will affect our bone density. Smoking also increases the risk of getting a fracture.
- Prevent falls. Falls can cause serious fractures and injuries especially in the elderly and someone with osteoporosis. This will sometimes lead to a lost in independence and would require a change in living arrangement. Take a few steps to prevent these from happening such as installing grab bars and brighter light bulbs or removing tripping hazards especially at home. Some fall cases are due to poor vision therefore it is also important to get your vision checked regularly to prevent this from happening.
- Regular visits to your doctor. Talk to your doctor about your bone health. Bone density testing may be required especially in the elderly. Your doctor may suggest certain medication or bone and joint health supplements to help with your condition.
- Calcium, nutrition, and bone health - orthoinfo - aaos. OrthoInfo. (n.d.). Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/calcium-nutrition-and-bone-health/#:~:text=Calcium%20is%20a%20mineral%20that,from%20the%20foods%20we%20eat.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Bone Health for Life: Health Information Basics for you and your family. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/bone-health-life-health-information-basics-you-and-your-family#:~:text=Why%20does%20bone%20health%20matter,need%20them%20for%20other%20uses.
- Skeletal system. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved May 3, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21048-skeletal-system#:~:text=The%20skeletal%20system%20is%20your,also%20called%20the%20musculoskeletal%20system.