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Vocabulary related to the skeletal system.

bone marrow

site of blood cell production

osseous tissue



the developmental process of bone formation


• immature (embryonic) bone cells
• cells that create bone tissue


mature bone cells

types of bones

• long bones
• short bones
• flat bones
• irregular bones

long bones

• bones that are longer than they wide
• example: femur, humerus
• the majority of the bones in the human body are long bones

short bones

• bones that are roughly as long as they are wide
• example: carpals, tarsals

flat bones

• bones that are usually plate-shaped
• example: sternum, scapulae, pelvis

irregular bones

• bones that have very irregular shapes
• example: vertebrae


• central shaft of the long bone
• the main (mid) section of a long bone


wide (knobby) ends of long bones

articular cartilage

layer of cartilage covering the epiphysis of long bones that help provide bone from rubbing directly on bone


thin connective tissue membrane covering the surface of the bone which contains numerous blood vessels, nerves, and lymphatic vessels


• compact bone
• dense and hard exterior surface bone

compact bone

• cortical
• dense and hard exterior surface bone


spongy bone (cancellous) found inside the bone

spongy bone

cancellous (spongy bone) found inside the bone

red bone marrow

manufactures most of the blood cells and is found in some parts of all bones

medullary cavity

• medullary canal
• canal at the center of the diaphysis that contains yellow bone marrow
• only found in long bones

yellow bone marrow

bone marrow found in the medullary cavity and is mainly fat cells


• a general term for any bony projection
• some common bony processes include: head, condyle, epicondyle, trochanter, tubercle, tuberosity


a large smooth ball-shaped end on a long bone


separates the head from the body or shaft of the bone


a smooth rounded portion at the end of a bone (not ball-shaped like the head process)


a projection located above or on a condyle


a large rough process for the attachment of a muscle


a large, rough process that provides the attachment of tendons and muscles


a hollow cavity within a bone


a smooth round opening for nerves and blood vessels


a shallow cavity or depression on the surface of a bone


a slit-type opening on a bone

axial skeleton

the center part of the skeleton that includes the skull, hyoid, sternum, ribs, spinal column

appendicular skeleton

• part of the skeleton that consists of the pectoral girdle, upper extremities, pelvic girdle and lower extremities
• bones for our appendages or limbs and along with the muscles attached to them
• responsible for body movement


• part of the skull
• 8 bones encasing the brain and consists of the frontal, parietal (2), temporal (2), ethmoid, sphenoid, and occipital bones

facial bones

• part of the skull
• 14 bones surrounding the mouth, nose, and eyes and include the mandible, maxilla (2), zygomatic (2), vomer, palatine (2), inferior nasal concha (2), nasal (2) and lacrimal (2) bones

frontal bone

bone forming the forehead

parietal bone

2 bones forming the upper side of cranium and roof of skull

occipital bone

bone forming the back and base of skull

temporal bone

2 bones forming the sides and base of cranium

sphenoid bone

bat-shaped bone that forms part of the base of the skull, floor, and sides of eye orbit

ethmoid bone

forms part of the eye orbit, nose and floor of cranium

lacrimal bone

2 bones forming the inner corner of each eye orbit

nasal bone

2 bones that form part of the nasal septum and support bridge of nose

inferior nasal concha

2 bones that are curved bony plates on lateral wall of nasal cavity


2 bones forming the upper jaw


bone that forms the lower jaw

zygomatic bone

2 bones that form the cheekbones

vomer bone

bone forming the base of nasal septum

palatine bone

2 bones forming the hard palate of mouth and floor of the nose

hyoid bone

• U-shaped bone suspended in the neck between the mandible and larynx
• the point of attachment for swallowing and speech muscles

vertebral column

• spinal column
• divided into five sections: cervical vertebrae, thoracic vertebrae, lumbar vertebrae, sacrum, and coccyx

intervertebral disc

• disc composed of fibrocartilage to provide a cushion between vertebrae
• located between each pair of vertebrae from the cervical through the lumbar regions

rib cage

• serves to provide support for organs, such as the heart and lungs
• 12 pairs of of ribs attached at the back to the vertebral column
• 10 pairs are attached to the sternum in the front
• lowest 2 pairs are called floating ribs and are attached only to the vertebral column

cervical vertebra

vertebrae in the neck region (7 bones)

thoracic vertebra

vertebrae in the chest region with ribs attached (12 bones)

lumbar vertebra

vertebrae in the small of the back, about waist level (5 bones)


five vertebrae that become fused into one triangular-shaped flat bone at the base of the vertebral column


• tailbone
• three to five very small vertebrae attached to sacrum, often become fused

pectoral girdle

consist of the clavicle and scapula bones

upper extremities

bones include the clavicle, scapula, humerus, ulna, radius, carpals, metacarpals, and phalanges

pelvic girdle

• os coxae
• innominate bone
• hipbone
• contains the ilium, ischium, and pubis

lower extremities

bones include the os coxae (ilium, ischium, pubic), femur, patella, tibia, fibula, tarsals, metatarsals, and phalanges


collar bone (2 bones)


shoulder blade (2 bones)


upper arm bones (2 bones)


forearm bone on thumb side of lower arm (2 bones)


forearm bone on little finger side of lower arm (2 bones)


bones of wrist (16 bones)


bones in palm of hand (10 bones)


finger bones (28 bones); three in each finger and two in each thumb
toe bones (28 bones); three in each toe and two in each great toe


upper part of the hipbone/pelvic girdle (2 bones)


lower, rear part of the hipbone/pelvic girdle (2 bones)


front part of the hipbone/pelvic girdle (2 bones)


• upper leg bone
• thigh bone
• longest and strongest bone of the body


knee cap


• shin bone
• thicker lower leg bone


thinner, long bone in lateral side of lower leg


ankle and heel bones (14 bones)


forefoot bones (10 bones)


(anatomy) the point of connection between two bones or elements of a skeleton (especially if the articulation allows motion)

types of joints

• synovial joints
• cartilaginous joints
• fibrous joints

joint capsule

encloses synovial joints and lined with synovial membrane which secretes synovial fluid to lubricate the joint


• a saclike structure composed of connective tissue and lined with synovial membrane
• commonly found between bones and ligaments or tendons
• function to reduce friction

synovial joints

• freely moving joints
• example: ball-and-socket found at the shoulder and hip

fibrous joints

• allow almost no movement since the ends of the bones are joined by thick fibrous tissue, which may even fuse into solid bone
• example: the sutures of the skull

cartilaginous joints

• allow for slight movement but hold bones firmly in place by a solid piece of cartilage
• example: the pubic symphysis, the point at which the left and right pubic bones meet in the front of the lower abdomen


• hunchback or humpback
• Abnormal increase in the outward curvature of the thoracic spine.


• swayback
• abnormal increase in the forward curvature of the lumbar spine


branch of medicine specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the musculoskeletal system


a brace or splint used to prevent or correct deformities


artificial device that is used as a substitute for a body part that is either congenitally missing or absent as a result of accident or disease


healthcare profession specializing in making artificial body parts

closed fracture

• simple fracture
• fracture in which there no open skin wound

simple fracture

• closed fracture
• fracture in which there no open skin wound

Colles' fracture

a common type of wrist fracture

comminuted fracture

fracture in which the bone is shattered, splintered, or crushed into many small pieces or fragments

compound fracture

• open fracture
• fracture in which the skin has been broken through to the fracture

open fracture

• compound fracture
• fracture in which the skin has been broken through to the fracture

greenstick fracture

fracture in which there is an incomplete break; on side of bone is broken and the other side is bent (common in children due to their softer bones)

impacted fracture

fracture in which bone fragments are pushed into each other

oblique fracture

fracture at an angle to the bone

pathologic fracture

fracture caused by diseased or weakened bone

spiral fracture

Fracture in which the fracture line spirals around the shaft of the bone. Can be caused by a twisting injury and is often slower to heal than other types of fractures.

stress fracture

a slight fracture caused by repetitive low-impact forces, like running, rather than a single forceful impact

transverse fracture

complete fracture that is straight across the bone at right angles to the long axis of the bone

Ewing's sarcoma

malignant growth found in the shaft of long bones that spreads through the periosteum

osteogenic sarcoma

the most common type of bone cancer; usually begins in the osteocytes found at the ends of long bones


softening of the bones caused by a deficiency of calcium


decrease in bone mass that results in a thinning and weakening of the bone with resulting fractures; bone becomes more porous

Paget's disease

a fairly common metabolic disease of the bone from unknown causes; it usually attacks middle-aged and elderly people and is characterized by bone destruction and deformity


deficiency in calcium and vitamin D found in early childhood that results in bone deformities, especially bowed legs

ankylosing spondylitis

inflammatory spinal condition that resembles rheumatoid arthritis; result in gradual stiffening and fusion of the vertebrae

herniated nucleus pulposus

• herniated disk
• ruptured disk
• herniation or protrusion of an intervertebral disk


abnormal lateral (left or right) curvature of the spine

spina bifida

congenital anomaly that occurs when a vertebra fails to fully form around the spinal cord

spinal stenosis

narrowing of the spinal canal causing pressure on the cord and nerves


the forward sliding of a lumbar vertebra over the vertebra below it


specifically refers to ankylosing of the spine, but commonly used in reference to any degenerative condition of the vertebral column


injury to bones in the cervical spine as a result of sudden movement forward and backward of the head and neck


inflammation of the bursa of the metatarsophalangeal joint (base of the big toe)


occurs when the bone in a joint are displaced from their normal alignment and ends of the bones are no longer in contact


• OA
• arthritis resulting in degeneration of the bones and joints, especially those bearing weight; results in bone rubbing against bone

rheumatoid arthritis

• RA
• chronic form of arthritis with inflammation of the joints, swelling, stiffness, pain, and changes in the cartilage that can result in crippling deformities; considered to be an autoimmune disease


damage to the ligaments surrounding a joint due to overstretching, but no dislocation of the joint or fracture of the bone


an incomplete dislocation, the joint alignment is disrupted, but the ends of the bones remain in contact

systemic lupus erythematosus

chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease of connective tissue affects many systems that may include joint pain and arthritis


• clubfoot
• congenital deformity causing misalignment of the ankle joint and foot


• talipes
• congenital deformity causing misalignment of the ankle joint and foot


visualization of a joint by radiographic study after injection of a contrast medium into the joint space

bone scan

a nuclear medicine procedure in which the patient is given a radioactive dye and then scanning equipment is used to visualize bones

dual-energy absorptiometry

measurement of bone density using low dose x-ray for the purpose of detecting osteoporosis


study of the spinal column after injecting opaque contrast material; particularly useful in identifying herniated nucleus pulposus pinching a spinal nerve


a diagnostic imaging procedure using x-rays to study the internal structure of the body; especially useful for visualizing bones and joints


examination of the interior of a joint by entering the joint with an arthroscope


removal of the vertebral posterior arch to correct severe back problems and pain caused by compression of a spinal nerve

percutaneous diskectomy

a thin catheter tube is inserted into the intervertebral disk through the skin and the herniated or ruptured disk material is sucked out or or a laser is used to vaporize it

spinal fusion

surgical immobilization of adjacent vertebrae

total hip arthroplasty

• total hip replacement
• surgical reconstruction of a hip by implanting a prosthetic or artificial hip

total knee arthroplasty

• total knee replacement
• surgical reconstruction of a knee joint by implanting a prosthetic knee joint


a procedure to stabilize a fractured bone while it heals


correcting a fracture by realigning the bone fragments


applying a pulling force on a fractured or dislocated limb or the vertebral column in order to restore normal alignment


the mass of bone tissue that forms at a fracture site during its healing


Application of a solid material to immobilize an extremity or portion of the body as a result of a fracture, dislocation, or server injury. It may be made of plaster of Paris or fiberglass.


Healthcare profession concerned with diagnosis and treatment of misalignment conditions of the spine and musculoskeletal system with the intention of affecting the nervous system and improving heath.


• crepitus
• The noise produced by bones or cartilage rubbing together in conditions such as arthritis.


• crepitation
• The noise produced by bones or cartilage rubbing together in conditions such as arthritis.


a bone spur

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