What is musculoskeletal health?

The musculoskeletal system is an essential component of human health. In addition to providing the body with structure and the means for movement, the musculoskeletal system acts as endocrine system, stimulated by exercise, interacting through biochemical signaling with other organs in the body.

Exercise, working through muscle and bone interactions, plays an important role in the maintenance of health. Lack of exercise leads to obesity and increased complications such as diabetes and metabolic disease.

As people age, they face new challenges in maintaining musculoskeletal health, as the interactions between muscle and bone are complicated by the aging process. As the population ages, the conditions of sarcopenia, osteoporosis and arthritis will increase as will hip and knee replacements.

Musculoskeletal disorders are the leading cause of disability in the US, with enormous impact on quality of life and longevity. They encompass a broad range of conditions that impair normal activity due to injury, pain or disease of the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Many of these disorders are associated with, or made more complex by the aging process. IU School of Medicine has developed a comprehensive team of researchers and clinicians working to better understand the science and improve care and treatment of these disorders.

Muskuloskeletal Conditions

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the weakening of bones that occurs when the body loses bone tissue that is not adequately replaced. As people age, particularly women, they are more likely to develop osteoporosis and be at higher risk of broken bones. Approximately 25 percent of women aged 65 and over have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

Arthritis

Arthritis is common and can be debilitating. Osteoarthritis results from the deterioration of the cartilage that coats and cushions bones, enabling joints to operate smoothly. Loss of cartilage results in pain, swelling and movement problems. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of several forms of arthritis caused by inflammation the joints and other tissues. Often, they are caused by autoimmune disorders, in which the immune system attacks its host body.

Bone and Joint Problems

Bone and joint problems can develop in association with other conditions, such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or genetic disorders.

Cancer

Several types of cancer can originate in bone tissue. In addition, multiple myeloma, a cancer of blood plasma, causes abnormalities in the bone marrow and other bone tissues.

Bone Fractures

Bone fractures are a common injury subject to a broad range of research, from surgical techniques to compounds to promote healing to issues of nutrition and rehabilitation.