The human skeletal system is an incredible network of cartilage, bones, and joints that work cohesively to keep you strong, stable, and upright.

skeletal-system-music-noteThe head bone connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone connected to the backbone,
The backbone connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone connected to the leg bone,
The leg bone connected to the foot bone,
The foot bone connected to the heel bone,
The heel bone connected to the toe bone.

Do you remember this fun children’s skeleton song? It may seem silly, but it is an excellent way for youngsters and adults alike to understand the human skeletal system. This song may simplify things a bit (the “head bone” is comprised of 22 separate bones!); still, it is a useful tool when learning about the human skeletal system.

Today we are going to take a closer look at the human skeletal system, including how it develops from infancy to adulthood and old age.

The human skeletal system

The human skeletal system

Understanding how the human skeletal system works will help explain common sources of pain, such as degenerative disc disease, spinal arthritis, and spondylosis. Our new eBook focuses on the anatomy and function of the musculoskeletal system to answer “why it hurts.”

But before diving into common diseases of the musculoskeletal system, we must first look at the human skeletal system.

An Overview of the Body’s Systems

What is a body system, you ask? A body system, or organ system, is a group of organs and tissues that work together to help the body perform specific functions.

Quickly, let’s go over the 11 systems that work in conjunction with one another to make a human being, well, human:

  1. Integumentary System – Skin, hair, and nails
  2. Nervous System – Brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves
  3. Respiratory System – Nasal passage, trachea, and lungs
  4. Circulatory System – Heart and blood vessels
  5. Digestive System – Stomach, liver, gall bladder, large intestine, and small intestine
  6. Excretory System – Kidneys and urinary bladder
  7. Muscular System – Skeletal muscles and tendons
  8. Immune System – Thymus, lymph nodes, spleen, and lymphatic vessels
  9. Endocrine System – Pituitary gland, thyroid gland, pancreas, adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes
  10. Reproductive System –
    • Females: Mammary glands, ovaries, and uterus
    • Males: Epididymis and testes
  11. Skeletal – Cartilage, bones, and joints

All these systems are vital to the functionality of the body. When trauma, disease, or other outside factors compromise one or more systems, it can wreak havoc on the entire body. An orthopedic doctor will be able to evaluate you to determine if the root of the pain is stemming from the skeletal or muscular systems, specifically.

Understanding the Human Skeletal System

When we first enter into this world, we start with around 300 different bones. As a child develops, some of these bones grow together, leaving us with 206 bones by the age of 25 (typically). The human skeletal system is divided into two different categories:

  • Axial skeleton
  • Appendicular skeleton
The Human Axial Skeleton

The Human Axial Skeleton

About 80 bones make up the axial skeleton, including the spine, skull, and rib cage. This is the main structure of the skeleton and has the critical job of protecting the spinal cord, lungs, heart, brain, and other organs.

The Human Appendicular Skeleton

The Human Appendicular Skeleton

The appendicular skeleton, on the other hand, includes the remaining 126 bones. It includes the arms, legs, shoulders, and pelvic region. Bones come in all different shapes and sizes, from long and sturdy to short, flat, and even some “irregular” bones.

But bones are more than just their outside appearance. They are made up of several types of material:

The makeup of a bone

The majority (80%) of the bones in the body are compact bone, which also happens to be the strongest type of bone.

Although the main job of the human skeletal system is to provide shape, stability, flexibility, and movement, it also holds many important minerals in the body, such as:

  • Collagen
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium

The bones in the body are held together by ligaments and joints. The joints can move thanks to muscles, and the cartilage in the joints supports the bones, preventing them from rubbing against one another.

More Than Bones: Facts About the Human Skeletal System

The human skeletal system works in cooperation with the muscular system, allowing you to move freely and fluidly. The musculoskeletal system is incredibly important to the skeleton, working conjointly to control the structures throughout the body.


Green information symbol for the human skeletal systemNow that we have a better idea of how the human skeletal system allows you to move, let’s look at some interesting facts skeletal system function:

  • The skeleton, muscles, and nerves all work together to move the body
  • The skeleton protects vital organs, including the brain, heart, and lungs
  • There are five different types of bones: short, long, flat, sesamoid, and irregular
  • Certain types of bones can produce red blood cells
  • Some joints move much more than others
  • The smallest bone in the body is in the ear
  • The longest bone in the body is in the leg
  • Bones are tough and designed to withstand regular wear and tear
  • The hyoid bone (in the throat) is the only bone in the body that isn’t connected to another bone
  • One percent of the population is born with an extra rib – the 13th
  • The knee is the largest joint in the body

The bottom line? The human skeletal system has many different moving parts (pun intended). To fully understand common pain conditions and why certain diseases are more common than others, we must look at these systems separately and collectively. If you are experiencing pain from a chronic condition or following an accident, schedule an appointment with our orthopedic injury specialists today.

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