Physiology Of Human Bones And Joints Biology Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
This includes all the physical and chemical processes that go on inside living things and that are necessary for proper functioning of the body. Physiology is closely related to anatomy, the study of different organs in a body and their relative positioning. This is because an understanding of functions of body parts requires a prior understanding of how the body is built. Human physiology is the specific study of the workings of the human body. The organ system approach is usually employed to study human physiology, including that of the bones and joints. Organ systems are a group of cells, tissues, and organs with a particular function.
The human body consists of the following organ systems: 
The study of human physiology includes an exhaustive focus on all these systems. This study has to be combined with a fundamental understanding of the molecular, cellular, and tissue level principles that form the basis of the functions of these systems. Proper functioning of the human body requires all these systems to work smoothly. The overall health of the human body is determined by the efficiency of the collective or integrated working of all these systems. An important concept in physiology is homeostasis. This refers to the maintenance of certain physiological parameters within a narrow range despite frequent changes in the external environment. Such a control is essential for proper functioning of all the organ systems. The physiological parameters that need to be kept within limits include body temperature and concentration of electrolytes and glucose in the cells.
Origins of the Term Physio
The term physio is derived from the Greek word phusis, meaning nature, and was used by people of ancient Greece around 1000 B.C. The word phusis is also said to refer to the Greek goddesses of nature who maintained the balance of nature. The term also implied normality as opposed to something that is monstrous or perverse. 
Considerable physiological differences exist between humans, other animals, and microorganisms. These differences can usually be ascribed to the process of evolution. Darwin’s theory of evolution proposes that all life on earth started from a single-celled organism that slowly diversified into numerous species. In order to adapt to the surroundings, the physiology of organisms changed slowly. Different climatic conditions triggered different type of changes and, over the centuries, led to the development of varied life forms. Humans have an average brain-to-body mass ratio of 1:40 that is exceeded only by small birds (1:12). This highly developed brain is said to be the reason why humans are more intelligent than other animals. Such a brain is also the reason why humans have a longer memory than most other animals. Usually, animals beyond the human species “live in the moment” and are, therefore, free from emotions such as spite, guilt, and self-consciousness.
Purpose of Bones
All the bones and joints in the body form the skeletal system that is inherently linked with muscles to form the musculoskeletal organ system. The skeletal system serves three fundamental functions.  As noted from chapter three, the skeletal system supports all the other organ systems of the body by providing a framework of bones and joints on and inside which other organ systems are rested. This structure also provides shape to the body. Bones provide protection from internal organs such as brain, lungs, uterus and others. This is a notable function and, therefore, merits a somewhat detailed treatment:
The skull encases the brain and protects the eyes and the middle and inner ears.
The sternum, rib cage, and spine shield the heart, lungs, and prominent blood vessels.
The vertebral column forms a covering around the spinal cord.
The spine and ilium safeguards the hip and the digestive and urogenital systems.
Overview of Consequences
Unhealthy bones are unable to perform all or any of their functions of support, movement, protection, production of blood cells, and acting as a reservoir and dumping locations respectively for useful and toxic minerals. Bone disease is a generic term for disorders related to bones that make bones weak and brittle and, therefore, more likely to break. Sources for bone disorders include heredity, nutritional deficiencies, injuries, and infections. The general effects are a pronounced decrease in the quality of life due to the inability to move efficiently and due to frequent bone injuries and possibly fractures. Premature death can result in extreme cases.
Low bone density is due to insufficient development of bone mass during childhood. This can aggravate into osteoporosis later on in life. 
Purpose of Joints
Joints are those locations where two or more bones are attached. Joints provide connectivity between different bones of the body. The fact that almost all bones are connected to form the skeletal system and that the muscles are connected to the skeleton ensures coordination of movement between different parts of the body. This connectivity integrates all the body parts into one whole entity. Joints facilitate movement through contraction and relaxation of muscles. Purposeful movement is fundamental to animal behavior and enables them to execute all activities necessary for survival, leisure, and reproduction. A certain amount of flexibility is lent to the skeletal structure by joints, which also serve as shock absorbers. Evolution has lent different structure to different types of joints in different animals. However, their essential functions remain unchanged. An example is the joints in the hind legs of land based carnivores that are designed for pouncing on prey. This is why they can jump high by using their hind legs. At the other end of the spectrum are the herbivores with bones and joints of hind legs designed for high speed. The joints of monkeys are designed for quick climbing and rapid movement among trees. Reptile joints enable them to crawl and pounce at high speeds.
All members of the cat family except the cheetah have retractable claws. The claws are made so as they are joined to the last phalange that can move forward or backward along a curvilinear path. This mechanism prevents unnecessary wearing of claws. The claws are voluntarily unsheathed only during hunting and serious fighting. The cheetah is designed for high speed and requires the claws to be continuously unsheathed in order to gain and maintain traction while sprinting. Even among carnivores, joints serve slightly different functions. Members of the dog family have joints compatible for a prolonged chase. Their hunting strategy involves wearing down the prey. Cats are ambush hunters. Their joints are stronger and capable of sudden acceleration for bringing down the prey suddenly. This would also mean greater shock absorbing capacity of their joints, although they are not suited for endurance. In humans, all joints can provide movement except the bones of the cranium. These cover the brain and are not capable of movement for obvious reasons. The human palm has a peculiar structure where the thumb provides exceptional gripping ability. Such a structure is absent in all the other animals and bestows humans with the capacity to execute a whole range of specialized activities. Joints in the human body can be classified on the basis of type of movement that they provide physiologically:
Hinge joints facilitate movement similar to that of a hinged door – along one axis only. They allow up-or-down movement but not from side to side. Examples of such joints are the elbow, knee, and the upper and lower jaw.
Ball and socket joints allow movement in all directions – upwards, downwards, and sideways. The shoulder is an example of such a joint. Another example is the acetabulam or the hip joint where the thigh bone is connected to the pelvis.
Pivot joints permit pivotal movement of one part about the other. An example of this type of joint is the movement of the skull about the backbone where the skull can rotate about the topmost bone of the backbone.
Gliding Joint is characterized by gliding movement of one bone / part over the other. The wrist joint is an example of such a joint.
Joints can also be classified according to the mechanism that holds the bones together at the joint. Application of this criterion renders the following types of joints. 
Fibrous or immovable joints are held together by ligaments only. Examples of such joints are the radioulnar and tibiofibular joints, the joints of bones inside the forearm and shin, respectively. Cartilaginous joints are where the connection between bones is provided by cartilage. An example is the joints between the vertebrae. Synovial joints are held together by a synovial capsule that is made from the protein collagen. The inner layer of this capsule is known as the synovial membrane and it secretes a lubricant called synovial fluid. Furthermore, there is a hyaline cartilage that pads the ends of the bones in these joints. Synovial joints can be hinge joints, ball and socket joints, pivot joints, or gliding joints. They can also be saddle type or condyloid type. Different finger bones of the same finger are joined by a saddle joint while condyloid joints join the metacarpal bones to the first phalanges.
Overall Bone Similarities
When it comes to bones and joints, considerable similarities exist between the framework of males and females. As a matter of fact, the skeletons of all primates exhibit certain generic features such as a large brain, highly developed fingers and thumb, generalized pattern of teeth, forward facing eyes, and bony eye sockets. The following points of resemblance are observed between the human male and human female skeleton.
Both have exactly the same number of bones: 206. Same number of bones also means the same number of joints, although the precise number of joints in the human body is a matter of debate in view of differences in opinion on what constitutes a joint. An inclusive estimate indicates to the presence of about 250 to 350 joints in the human body. The shape of most bones in the male and female skeleton is similar, although some bones are differently shaped in view of the different roles of males and females. The femur or the thigh bone is the longest and strongest bone in both human males and human females. Stirrup or stapes is the smallest bone in the human skeleton irrespective of gender. This bone is located in the middle ear and its average size ranges between 0.25 cm to 0.33 cm. The average human bone density is around 1500 kg/m3 for a normal, healthy adult, although males have slightly higher bone density than women. Here again, different researchers have obtained varying results ranging between 1000 kg/m3 to 1900 kg/m3. With this, the human skeleton comprises a significant percent of the total body weight.
Overall Bone Differences
Different hormones affect the development of bones in males and females and this is the primary reason for bone differences. Testosterone is the main hormone that affects bone development in males while estrogen does the same for females.  The differences between male and female skeletons can be better understood when seen in the context of differences in race, lifestyle, and physical activity. When comparisons are made between males and females of the same race and with comparable lifestyles, the following points of differences can be observed.
Human male and female joints have certain common features. The first similarity is the number of joints. Since the number of bones in the bodies of males and females is same, the number of joints is also same. The number of joints is between 250 to 350.  There is no exact number due to lack of unanimity on what precisely constitutes a joint. Another prominent similarity is the types of joints. Both males and females have the same types of joints according to the mechanism for holding joints together. The functions of most of the joints in males and females are similar. This point of similarity is a natural corollary to there being equal number and same type of joints.
Men have broader shoulders and smaller waists while women have wider hips and narrower shoulders. This makes the angles of muscle alignment and tendon attachment different in the joints of males and females.  Female joints are, on an average, more flexible and have a greater range of movement than male joints.  This is due to women having a lower center of gravity due to wider hips and greater distribution of weight around the hips and thighs. On account of this significant point, the following dissimilarities are observed: 1) It is easier for women to perform mobility exercises and exhibit actions such as hurdling and the fosbury flop during high jump, while; 2) men are better at events such as long jump, shot put, and hammer throw; 3) the said feature also makes women less susceptible to injuries during the execution of jumps over hurdles, but on the downside, this feature lowers the efficiency of the muscle pull and makes women more prone to muscle injuries and 4) elbows and ankles in the male skeleton are smaller and have a smaller carrying angle as compared to female skeletons. This makes male elbows and ankles stronger.
Physiology is the study of functions of different organs and organ systems in the human body, which body consists of ten organ systems. The body’s overall health is determined by how well these systems function collectively. People are the apex creatures on this planet on account of their highly developed brain, thumb, and communication. The skeletal system consisting of bones and joints is the physical foundation on which other organ systems of the body are rested. It also protects different organs in the body and with the attached muscle system forms the musculoskeletal system that facilitates movement of movable body parts. Due to differences in their biological roles, bones and joints of men and women are slightly different. Men have broader shoulders while women have wider hips. This provides a lower center of gravity for women with greater joint flexibility and better coordination of movement. The same feature, however, makes women more prone to muscle injuries.
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