What Are the Different Types of Skeletal System Disorders?

C. Webb

Skeletal system disorders are caused by various factors, including illness and injury. In some cases, the disorder appears years after the offending injury or illness occurred. Different types of skeletal system disorders require different treatments.

An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis, a skeletal system disorder.
An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis, a skeletal system disorder.

Bones and cartilage make up the skeletal system, which forms the frame that protects the body's organs and tissues. The skeletal system also stores valuable vitamins and minerals to distribute throughout the body as needed. Injury or illness to the system can cause medical problems immediately or remain dormant for years before appearing.

Bursitis is a skeletal system disorder that can occur in the hip joint.
Bursitis is a skeletal system disorder that can occur in the hip joint.

A bone fracture is the most common of skeletal system disorders. The bone can break completely or have a hairline crack that keeps the bone intact, but causes pain. Diagnosis is made through x-rays. Treatment is to set the broken bone and immobilize it until it heals.

Sprains are another common disorder of the skeletal system. A sprain causes significant pain to a ligament that covers a joint. A sudden twist or wrenching motion causes the sprain to occur. Diagnosis is through a physical examination and an x-ray to rule out a fracture. Treatment includes anti-inflammatory medication and immobilization of the affected area.

Bursitis is one of the skeletal system disorders that does not require a previous injury, though it is typically caused by overuse of the affected joint. This disorder usually appears in the shoulder or hip and is due to an inflammation of the bursa sac within the joint. The body contains 160 bursa sacs, which are fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between joints to allow them to glide smoothly. Bursitis treatment involves giving anti-inflammatory medication and immobilizing the affected limb.

While most skeletal system disorders are caused by previous injuries or illness, spina bifida is present at birth. The spinal cord does not form properly, leaving the vertebrae and skin with nothing to wrap themselves around. This disorder causes a variety of symptoms, which can be relatively minor, such as difficulty walking, or major, such as being confined to a wheelchair for life. In some cases, mental abilities are also affected. There is no cure for spina bifida.

Osteoporosis is caused by hormonal imbalance and genetic predisposition. It is a skeletal disorder most commonly associated with age. Women are affected more often than men. Treatment includes prescribed medication, a diet rich in calcium, and periodic bone scans to monitor progress. The disorder causes bone loss, which in turn can lead to fractures.

Osteomyelitis is another skeletal system disorder. Caused by a bone marrow infection, it travels through the bloodstream throughout the body. Severe pain, fever, weakness, and chills are symptoms associated with the condition. Treatment includes monitoring by a medical professional.

Various arthritis conditions are commonly observed disorders of the skeletal system. Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis can strike at any time. Swelling, tenderness, and stiffness are typical arthritis symptoms. Treatment includes prescribed medications and exercise.

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Discussion Comments


Some skeletal system disorders occur from birth right?

My doctor said that I have a narrow spine. But since I'm young, he thinks that I was probably born this way.


Osteoporosis seems to be one of the most common skeletal system disorders. And as far as I understand, it's inevitable to some degree after a certain age. Calcium supplements and regular exercise definitely helps. But it's an issue that most elderly have to deal with.

Especially women in menopause are at risk for osteoporosis. My mother developed it after menopause. Thankfully, it's not advanced. Her doctor does not even feel that she needs medication. She just has to take her calcium and make sure to exercise regularly.


The human body is very interesting. It's very strong and resilient, but there is so much pressure and strain that it can tolerate.

I was diagnosed with a wrist strain and tendinitis due to typing, which I did not even know was possible. My doctor told me that the strain that the repetitive movements of typing placed on my wrist bone and tendons became too much. I'm now wearing a wrist splint to immobilize it for healing. I also have to do stretching exercises and use a wrist rest.

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