Your musculoskeletal system includes bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and soft tissues. They work together to support your body’s weight and help you move. Injuries, disease and aging can cause pain, stiffness and other problems with movement and function. You can keep your musculoskeletal system strong by managing your overall health.
Your musculoskeletal system includes your bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and connective tissues. Your skeleton provides a framework for your muscles and other soft tissues. Together, they support your body’s weight, maintain your posture and help you move.
A wide range of disorders and conditions can lead to problems in the musculoskeletal system. Aging, injuries, congenital anomalies (birth defects) and disease can cause pain and limit movement.
You can keep your musculoskeletal system healthy by focusing on your overall health. Eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and see your provider for checkups.
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The nervous system (your body’s command center) controls your voluntary muscle movements. Voluntary muscles are ones you control intentionally. Some involve large muscle groups to do activities like jumping. Others use smaller movements, like pushing a button. Movements happen when:
The musculoskeletal system works to help you stand, sit, walk, run and move. Adult bodies have 206 bones and more than 600 muscles, connected by ligaments, tendons and soft tissues.
The parts of the musculoskeletal system are:
Hundreds of conditions can cause problems with the musculoskeletal system. They can affect the way you move, speak and interact with the world. Some of the most common causes of musculoskeletal pain and movement problems are:
Everyone has pain in their muscles and joints from time to time. One of the most common musculoskeletal conditions is back pain, especially low back pain. More than 80% of people in the United States have back pain at some point in their lives. Arthritis is also very common. More than 54 million adults in the U.S. have arthritis. Broken bones, sprains and strains happen to millions of people every year. Most people recover from these injuries without long-term health problems.
The best way to take care of your musculoskeletal system is to maintain good health overall. To keep your bones and muscles healthy, you should:
Talk to your provider if you have pain, swelling, stiffness, decreased range of motion or problems moving. See your provider right away if any of these changes happen suddenly. Sudden problems could be a sign of a serious condition.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Everyone has muscle aches and pains from time to time. Although you may not be able to prevent all strains, sprains and broken bones, you can keep your musculoskeletal system healthy. Maintaining good overall health will lower your risk of disease and injuries. And staying healthy will help you heal faster if you do get injured. By seeing your provider regularly, managing your weight and taking care of yourself, you’ll protect your bones and muscles so they can keep protecting you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/11/2020.
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