The bones of the limbs along with their girdles constitute the appendicular skeleton. Each limb is made of 30 bones.
Girdle Bones: Pectoral and Pelvic girdle bones help in the articulation of the upper and the lower limbs respectively with the axial skeleton. Each girdle is formed of two halves. Each half of pectoral girdle consists of a clavicle and a scapula. Scapula is a large triangular flat bone situated in the dorsal part of the thorax between the second and the seventh ribs. The dorsal, flat, triangular body of scapula has a slightly elevated ridge called the spine which projects as a flat, expanded process called the acromion. The clavicle articulates with this. Below the acromion is a depression called the glenoid cavity which articulates with the head of the humerus to form the shoulder joint. Each clavicle is a long slender bone with two curvatures. This bone is commonly called the collar bone.
Pelvic girdle consists of two coxal bones. Each coxal bone is formed by the fusion of three bones – ilium, ischium and pubis. At the point of fusion of the above bones is a cavity called acetabulum to which the thigh bone articulates. The two halves of the pelvic girdle meet ventrally to form the pubic symphysis containing fibrous cartilage.
Joints are essential for all types of movements involving the bony parts of the body. Locomotory movements are no exception to this. Joints are points of contact between bones, or between bones and cartilages. Force generated by the muscles is used to carry out movement through joints, where the joint acts as a fulcrum. The movability at these joints varies depending on different factors. Joints have been classified into three major structural forms, namely, fibrous, cartilaginous and synovial.
Fibrous Joints: Fibrous joints do not allow any movement. This type of joint is shown by the flat skull bones which fuse end-to-end with the help of dense fibrous connective tissues in the form of sutures, to form the cranium.
Cartilaginous Joints: In cartilaginous joints, the bones involved are joined together with the help of cartilages. The joint between the adjacent vertebrae in the vertebral column is of this pattern and it permits limited movements.
Synovial Joints: Synovial joints are characterised by the presence of a fluid filled synovial cavity between the articulating surfaces of the two bones. Such an arrangement allows considerable movement. These joints help in locomotion and many other movements. Ball and socket joint (between humerus and pectoral girdle), Hinge joint (knee joint), Pivot joint (between atlas and axis), Gliding joint (between the carpals) and Saddle joint (between carpal and metacarpal of thumb) are some examples.
Myasthenia gravis: Auto immune disorder affecting neuromuscular junction leading to fatigue, weakening and paralysis of skeletal muscle.
Muscular dystrophy: Progressive degeneration of skeletal muscle mostly due to genetic disorder.
Tetany: Rapid spasms (wild contractions) in muscle due to low Ca++ in body fluid.
Arthritis: Inflammation of joints.
Osteoporosis: Age-related disorder characterised by decreased bone mass and increased chances of fractures. Decreased level of estrogen is a common cause.
Gout: Inflammation of joints due to accumulation of uric acid crystals.
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