Bones & Muscles

Mechanism and function of human musculoskeletal system

The human musculoskeletal system is an organ system that gives humans the ability to move using the muscular and skeletal systems and provides form, support, stability, and movement to the body. It is made up of the body’s bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints, and other connective tissue that supports and binds tissues and organs together. The musculoskeletal system’s primary functions include supporting the body, allowing motion, and protecting vital organs.

Muscles keep bones in place and also play a role in movement of the bones. To allow motion, different bones are connected by joints. Cartilage prevents the bone ends from rubbing directly on to each other. Muscles contract (bunch up) to move the bone attached at the joint.

Calcium in the body

Calcium is an important component of a healthy diet and a mineral necessary for life. Approximately 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. Calcium also helps the heart, nerves, muscles, and other body systems work properly. It is probably best known for helping prevent osteoporosis.

Our bodies absorb calcium from the food we eat through the lining of the bowel. The calcium is stored in the bones. The body controls the amount of calcium in the bloodstream very carefully. Insufficient intakes of calcium do not produce obvious symptoms in the short term because the body maintains calcium levels in the blood by taking it from the bones.

Over the long term, intake of calcium below recommended levels can have health consequences, such as causing low bone mass (osteopenia) and increasing the risks of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Symptoms of serious calcium deficiency include numbness and tingling in the fingers, convulsions, and abnormal heart rhythms that can lead to death if not corrected.

A diet high in calcium

    Calcium is found in many foods. You can get recommended amounts of calcium by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Tofu, yogurt, and dairy products are the main food sources of calcium.
  • Broccoli and Chinese cabbage are fine vegetable sources of calcium.
  • Fish with soft bones such as canned sardines and salmon.

Exercise for strong bones

There are two types of exercises that are important for building and maintaining bone density: weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. Weight-bearing exercises include activities that make you move against gravity while staying upright. These exercises can be high-impact or low-impact. Muscle-strengthening includes activities where you move your body, a weight or some other resistance against gravity. They are also known as resistance exercises.

Calcium dietary supplements

Calcium absorption is best when a person consumes no more than 500 mg at one time. So a person who takes 1,000 mg/day of calcium from supplements, for example, should split the dose rather than take it all at once.

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Stiff neck

A common cause of neck pain is muscle strain or tension. Usually, everyday activities are to blame. Such activities include bending over a desk for hours, having poor posture while watching TV or reading, placing your computer monitor too high or too low, sleeping in an uncomfortable position, or twisting and turning the neck in a jarring manner while exercising.

Mechanism of stiff neck

By far the most common cause of a stiff neck is a muscle sprain or muscle strain, particularly to the levator scapula muscle. Located at the back and side of the neck, the levator scapula muscle connects the neck with the shoulder. The levator scapula muscle may be strained or sprained throughout the course of many common, everyday activities.

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Preventing stiff neck

Have good posture

Good posture, particularly keeping the neck in supported position when working, can help to prevent a stiff neck. This is because the neck stiffness and protective muscle spasm is usually as a result of an underlying neck problem. Good posture can help to avoid these conditions such as arthritis of the neck and disc problems. Also, stretch as much as possible especially if your job requires you to sit or stand for long hours.

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Muscle exercise

If your neck is stiff or twisted, try some simple neck exercises – gently tense your neck muscles as you tilt your head up and down and from side to side, and as you carefully twist your neck from left to right. These exercises will help strengthen your neck muscles and improve your range of movement.

Managing stress

Stress also has a physical effect on the muscles in your neck. As you tense up, the tightness in your neck muscles contributes to neck pain. Chronic neck pain can also be a cause of irritability, fatigue, and even depression that can add a lot of stress to your life. Managing your stress is an important part of the treatment plan for neck pain.

Treatment for stiff neck

Massage

A gentle massage is a great way to relieve stress and neck pain, too, because it gets blood flowing into your sore muscles. You may want to add heat or cold to relieve tension and pain.

Exercise

Physical activity will get your blood flowing and your muscles moving. Neck exercises are a great way to relieve tension and an important part of the treatment for neck pain.

Medication

The treatment of soft tissue in neck and shoulder pain often includes the use of anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen may also be recommended.

Mechanism of lower back pain

Lower back pain is not a specific disease but rather a complaint that may be caused by a large number of underlying problems of varying levels of seriousness. The majority of lower back pain does not have a clear cause but is believed to be the result of non-serious muscle or skeletal issues such as sprains or strains. Obesity, smoking, weight gain during pregnancy, stress, poor physical condition, poor posture, and poor sleeping position may also contribute to lower back pain.

Type of symptoms

The common symptoms of acute lower back pain involve pain that develops after movements which involve lifting, twisting, or forward-bending. It may start soon after the movements or upon waking up the following morning. The description of the symptoms may range from tenderness at a particular point to diffuse pain. It may or may not worsen with certain movements, such as raising a leg, or positions, such as sitting or standing. Pain radiating down the legs may be present. Chronic lower back pain is associated with sleep problems, including a greater amount of time needed to fall asleep, disturbances during sleep, a shorter duration of sleep, and less satisfaction with sleep. In addition, a majority of those with chronic lower back pain show symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Care and prevention of lower back pain

Avoid putting pressure on your lower back when carrying heavy items and maintain proper posture when you’re seated or walking.

Moderate exercise

Walking is often an excellent exercise for lower back pain since it is gentle on the back and helps oxygenate the soft tissues in the back to stimulate a healing response. If walking is too painful, exercising in the water is usually tolerable. Such back care is typically beneficial for lower back pain because the water counteracts gravity and helps to support the patient’s weight in a controlled fashion.

Topical Pain Relief: Creams, Gels, and Rubs

    If your lower back hurts, you’ll find many products for topical pain relief suitable to alleviate the pain. Topical pain killers, or analgesics, are sprayed on or rubbed into the skin over painful muscles or joints. Although are all designed to relieve pain, different products use different ingredients.

  • Counterirritants. Ingredients such as menthol, methylsalicylate, and camphor are called counterirritants because they create a burning or cooling sensation that distracts your mind from the pain.
  • Salicylates. These same ingredients that give aspirin its pain-relieving quality are found in some creams. When absorbed into the skin, they may help with pain, particularly in joints close to the skin, such as the fingers, knees, and elbows.
  • Capsaicin. The main ingredient of hot chili peppers, capsaicin is also one of the most effective ingredients for topical pain relief. When first applied, capsaicin creams cause a warm tingling or burning sensation. This gets better over time. You may need to apply these creams for a few days up to a couple of weeks before you notice relief from pain.