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How does the musculoskeletal system change from birth to adulthood?

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How does the musculoskeletal system change from birth to adulthood?
What are the steps that the system goes through from childhood to adulthood to reach 206 bones?
Posted Tue, 22 May 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 2 hours later
Hello and thank you for submitting your question.

Your question is a very good one and I will work on provide you with some information regarding your query.

The truth of the matter is that when we are born we have all of these bones including the 206 which you mentioned.

As we grow older some of these bones grow in the length as well as sickness. This is the major change that occurs from birth and childhood until adulthood. In addition there are changes that occur in the density of bones as we get older which is why as physicians we pay close attention to that in elderly patients because calcium and vitamin D supplementation helps to maintain the density and strength of the bones.

You may wonder if the body changes during growth so that new bones are formed and actually this does not occur. When we are born all of the bones are there but in very very tiny forms.

sometimes there are changes in how the bones interact such as the bones of the skull. When we are born all of the bones of the skull are not used. This is where the soft spot on a baby's head can be felt. As we grow older these soft areas are replaced by connections between the bones of the skull. These connections are actually bone as well so that they're no longer is a soft spot after a couple of years of life.

Other changes which occur as we get older include changes in the joints of the knee and the shoulder and the hips. This is where bones interact with communication via ligaments and a joint capsules. As we get older some of these capsules can become inflamed or worn out which causes degenerative joint disease. This can be a very challenging issue for physicians to manage.

I thank you again for submitting your question. I hope I've provided you with an adequate and informative response. If you have any additional follow-up concerns or questions I would be happy to address those here.


Dr. Robert

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: How does the musculoskeletal system change from birth to adulthood? 2 days later
I was looking at the process of ossification and how that process occur. In addition, what are the bones that fuse together and how this process occurs.
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 6 hours later
Hello and thanks for the followup.

I will try to summarize the process of ossification for you here:

If it weren't for ossification, you'd be a soft mound of blood, water, and flesh. The process of creating and growing bones is complicated, interesting, and chock-full of vocabulary that you need to know to get through an anatomy or physiology class.
Compact bone is a dense layer made up of structural units, or lacunae, arranged in concentric circles called Haversian systems (or osteons), each of which has a central, microscopic Haversian canal. A perpendicular system of Volkmann's canals penetrate and cross between the Haversian systems, ensuring circulation into even the hardest bone structure.
The bulbous ends of each long bone, known as the epiphyses (or singularly as an epiphysis), are made up of spongy, or cancellous, bone tissue covered by a thin layer of compact bone. The diaphysis, or shaft, contains the medullary cavity and blood cell–producing marrow. A membrane called the periosteum covers the outer bone to provide nutrients and oxygen, remove waste, and connect with ligaments and tendons.
Bones grow through the cellular activities of osteoblasts on the surface of the bone, which produce layers of mature bone cells called osteocytes. Osteoclasts are cells that function in the developing fetus to absorb cartilage as ossification occurs and in adult bone to break down and remove spent bone tissue.
There are two types of ossification. Both types rely on the thyroid hormone calcitonin, which regulates metabolism of calcium. The two types of ossification are
Endochondral or intracartilaginous ossification: Occurs when mineral salts calcify along the scaffolding of cartilage formed in the developing fetus beginning about the fifth week after conception. This process, known as calcification, takes place in the presence of vitamin D and a hormone from the parathyroid gland. The absence of any one of these substances causes a child to have soft bone, resulting in a disorder called rickets.
Next, the blood supply entering the cartilage brings osteoblasts that attach themselves to the cartilage. As the primary center of ossification, the diaphysis of the long bone is the first to form spongy bone tissue along the cartilage, followed by the epiphyses, which form the secondary centers of ossification and are separated from the diaphysis by a layer of uncalcified cartilage called the epiphyseal plate, where all growth in bone length occurs. Compact bone tissue covering the bone's surface is produced by osteoblasts in the inner layer of the periosteum, producing growth in diameter.
Intramembranous ossification: Occurs along a template of membrane, as the name implies, primarily in compact flat bones of the skull that don't have Haversian systems. The skull and mandible (lower jaw) of the fetus are first laid down as a membrane. Osteoblasts attach to the membrane, ossifying from the center of the bone outward. The edges of the skull's bones don't completely ossify to allow for molding of the head during birth. Instead, six soft spots, or fontanels, are formed: one frontal, two sphenoidal, two mastoidal, and one occipital.

Thank you again for your follow-up question. I hope you found my response to be helpful and informative. If you have additional concerns I would be happy to address those with you.


Dr. Robert
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: How does the musculoskeletal system change from birth to adulthood? 14 hours later
Thank you. that is the answer I was needing.
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 8 hours later
It was my pleasure assisting you with your medical question.

If you have any additional questions we would be happy to address those here in our forum.

I wish you all the best and continued good health.


Dr. Robert
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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