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What Is the Physiology of the Skeletal System?

The anatomy of a bone.
The rib cage helps protect the organs in the chest from trauma.
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  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 28 June 2014
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The science of physiology often studies the functions of different body parts or organ systems of a living creature. In this light, the physiology of the skeletal system can be enumerated in five words: shape, support, protection, storage, and movement. These functions apply both to the human body and almost all animals categorized as vertebrates. Often, the physiology of the skeletal system of the human body is studied by analyzing the skeletal systems of different animals and vice versa, as both skeletal structures are usually homologous, or have the same structure.

One important function of the skeletal system is it sustains and gives shape to the body, just like how buildings and houses are initially built with metal or wooden frameworks to establish the final shape of the structures. For example, the skull, consisting of more than 20 bones, is very important because it creates the shape of the eyes, nose, and the overall head. Without it, human and animal heads would look very irregular and disfigured. So it is with the rest of the body; without the hard and rigid composition of the skeletal system, human and animal bodies will not have their definite shape that creates the distinction from each species.

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The shaping physiology of the skeletal system also goes hand in hand with giving support, helping the body carry its weight. In the human body, the vertebral column or the spine running down the back area is the bone that carries most of the body’s weight and holds the body in an upright position. It is also perhaps no coincidence that the femur or the thigh bone is the largest bone among most animals including humans, as its heavier weight and size helps carry the upper body, especially when the body is in motion.

Protecting the vital organs is also another important function of the skeleton. This can be seen in the skull that encloses the eyes, the ears and, most importantly, the brain. The rib cage, on the other hand, acts like a shield for the lungs, the heart, and the large blood vessels connected to them. Even the spine is an example of the protective physiology of the skeletal system as it contains the spinal cord, a very vital part of the nervous system. The bones also act as storage systems for many of the essential minerals such as calcium and iron, as well as new blood cells that are created daily inside the bone marrow.

The physiology of the skeletal system also allows the body to move around with different ranges of movement. This is because bones have joints at both ends that connect the bones to each other, but still let them twist and turn in different directions. The skeletal system is often assisted by the muscular system and controlled by the nervous system.

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