How the body works

Introduction

Did you know that Musculoskeletal conditions are the leading contributor to disability worldwide? In February of this year, the World Health Organisation estimated that 1.71billion people were living with musculoskeletal conditions. The worlds population in 2021 is estimated to be 7.87billion people. That means 21.7% of the worlds population currently have some disability associated with a musculoskeletal condition! Due to this high prevalence its almost certain that each of us will experience or know of someone with a musculoskeletal (MSK) condition. As such, it’s helpful for us all to have a basic understanding of how the components of our body’s MSK system work and function.

Throughout this blog series, we will step through the major components of this system including; bones, cartilage, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves. Whilst there is a high prevalence of MSK injury and disease in society, many options exist to accurately diagnose, treat, manage and prevent MSK conditions.

At the most fundamental level, the MSK system of our body has two major roles. Firstly, it provides the foundation, structure and shape for each and every person’s body. Secondly, it provides the ability for locomotion, also known as, movement. Bones are the most foundational organ we have, and provide stability and structure, much like the slab and frame do in a building. Various joints are located throughout this frame which allow us to move and function in an almost infinite number of ways. Cartilage is a type of connective tissue often found at joints which helps joints to move freely and to provide cushioning from forces applied to the skeletal system. Another type of connective tissue is ligaments. These structures provide stability for the joints in our body. Muscles and tendons are a single unit which when contracted, apply force to the skeletal system to initiate and control movement. Tendons are somewhat ‘springy’ in nature and increase the efficiency of movement by transferring, storing and releasing energy generated by muscle contraction.

As with most of the systems in our body, the musculoskeletal system can’t do much without the brain. As such, the nervous system (comprising of the brain, spinal cord and nerves) is integral to the function of the MSK system. Furthermore, the vestibular (or inner ear) and visual systems work with the MSK system to assist with balance. And of course, the heart and lungs are integral to ensuring that the MSK system receives what it needs to continue functioning. We can see that there are a lot of components and many moving parts when it comes to musculoskeletal function!

Our professions of physiotherapy and exercise physiology are entirely based around understanding, interpreting and assisting the musculoskeletal system. If you currently have a MSK complaint, have any questions, or would like some information to point you in the right direction; please don’t hesitate to book an appointment with any of our professional and friendly practitioners by calling 4613 1394. 

In the meantime, please find below some useful links for further information on MSK conditions. Stay tuned for next time as we delve into understanding bones!

Rowland Briese