Skeleton and joints

Last modified: December 10, 2019

We would not be able to function without our skeleton and our joints, but we probably don’t think about them much from day to day. Not unless they hurt, at least. Regardless of whether we’re troubled by them or not, it can be good to know a thing or two about the skeleton and joints. The more knowledge we have, the greater is our ability to prevent various kinds of pain and discomfort.

The function of the skeleton

The skeleton works almost like a shield, but on the inside. It protects our most important internal organs, such as the heart, brain, and lungs. At the same time, it keeps us upright and provides an attachment site for our muscles. In this way, the skeleton makes it possible for us to move around.

A joint is where two or more parts of the skeleton meet. The joint often acts as a hinge and allows the parts of the skeleton to slide against each other. The cartilage is one of the most important parts of the joint. This tissue acts as a sliding surface which reduces friction inside the joint. When the cartilage breaks down, it becomes significantly harder to use the affected joint.

Read more about osteoarthritis.

Different types of joints

There are different types of joints in the body that all work in somewhat different ways. Hinge joints, for example, only bend in one direction. This type of joint can be found in the small joints in the fingers, but also in the elbow. Ball joints, such as the shoulders or hips, can be moved in several different directions. The disadvantage is that this type of joint can easily become dislocated.

One of the most complex joints that we have are knee joints. This is basically a hinge joint but with some modification. For example, we have the knee cap, the meniscus and several ligaments. It is also unique since it bears such a large part of our body weight.

Read more facts about the skeleton.