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Bones, Ligaments, and Tendons: Your Skeletal Framework

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We have often read about various aspects of our bodies from a structural perspective. We learn about broken bones, back pain, skull fractures, and knee injuries, but what exactly comprises our skeletal system? What are the key elements of our human framework? The primary players are the bones, ligaments, and tendons that are integrated into a mechanism known as the skeleton that provides for movement, stability, protection, and growth of the body.

Did you know that there are about 206 bones in the human body? (That is a lot of pieces to potentially break!) Bones act as connective tissue within the body. Bones are essentially made of a mineral compound called calcium phosphate, which is a hard substance, with a smaller amount of collagen. The collagen cells allow for some degree of elasticity when a bone undergoes trauma.

There are two kinds of bones: the cortical bones and the cancellous bones. The cortical ones are denser and more compact, comprising a large part of the skeleton frame. The longer bones in the body, for example, are cortical, such as the femur. The long bones are hollow and filled with yellow marrow. At then end of the long bone is the epiphysis. The epiphysis is made of cancellous bone cells. The marrow in this portion is red. Red marrow generates the red blood cells we need, and yellow marrow creates the white blood cells we need.

Ligaments are responsible for connecting bones to other bones, thereby creating a joint, a flexible structure that aids in movement and the bearing of weight and external forces applied to it. Made of collagen, they are formed into short and fibrous bands. Every ligament in the body is necessary for efficient physical movement. Two ligaments of great importance to the framework are the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which connects the upper leg to the lower leg, and the ulnar cruciate ligament (UCL), a key structure of the elbow.

Tendons, much like ligaments, are strong, fiber-like connectors. Instead of connecting bone to bone, however, they serve to connect the muscle to the bone, which in turn provides stability and a great amount of resistance to external forces.

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HERWriter Guide

Actually, Ann, I did know there are 206 bones in the human body - that's because I just happen to be reading a mystery titled "206 Bones" by forensic anthropologist Dr. Kathy Reichs. She's the inspiration for the character Temperance Brennan on the TV program "Bones" which is one of my favorite shows. The program focuses on FBI cases concerning the mystery behind human remains and always has interesting tidbits in it about bones. Of course, your articles about bones are also fascinating too! Take care, Pat

December 15, 2009 - 6:12pm
(reply to Pat Elliott)

Just getting to this message! Interesting stuff...now I am reminded of that upcoming movie called "The Lovely Bones!" Hmmm.....

December 25, 2009 - 8:34pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.