Orthopedics is the surgical discipline that deals with preventing or correcting disorders of the body’s moving parts, including the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and cartilage. An orthopedic surgeon is a physician with additional training in this specialty.
There are 206 bones in the human body. Bony tissue consists of proteins, minerals, and bone cells, among other substances. The proteins form a framework to which calcium and phosphate are attached. Bone cells regulate amount of calcium and other minerals in the bone. Bones are alive and always changing as they provide support for the body. Inside certain bones is the marrow, a soft core that manufactures blood cells. Bones may be broken, bruised, or dislocated. Other problems, such as osteoporosis, result from a problem with the complex balance of chemistry within the bone.
The ends of bones that meet in a joint are cushioned with a layer of cartilage, which absorbs some of the shock or weight involved in movement. Some elements of a joint include a liquid called synovial fluid, a membrane, a protective casing called the capsule, and bands of fibrous tissue called ligaments, which bind the parts of a joint together. Joint problems include osteoarthritis, which is the result of wear and tear, especially of the cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis may involve many joints with inflammation of the synovial membrane and the cartilage.
There are 650 muscles in the body. They are fibers with an elasticity that allows them to expand and contract, producing movement at the joints. Nearly all muscles of the skeleton are paired. For example, contracting your biceps muscle will cause your arm to flex, while contracting the opposing triceps muscle with cause your arm to extend. Muscles are connected to the bones by tendons. (Not all muscles in your body produce movement of the skeleton; for example, muscles in your bladder, stomach, and blood vessels are called involuntary muscles.) Most muscle problems occur because of strain or overexertion. Common injuries include sprains, torn or stretched ligaments, and pulled muscles.