What is the Musculoskeletal System

MAVen team

The musculoskeletal system refers to the interconnected system of bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues in the human body. 

What Is the Function of the Musculoskeletal System?

The musculoskeletal system consists of the skeletal system, which includes all the bones in the body, and the muscular system, which includes the muscles responsible for voluntary movement.

Its function is to work together to provide support, stability, and movement within the human body. The musculoskeletal system plays a vital role in maintaining posture, facilitating movement, protecting internal organs, and providing structural support. 

Each component of the musculoskeletal system has a different function and can be subject to different types of injuries.


Bone is composed primarily of collagen and calcium and makes up your skeleton. They provide structure, support, and protection to various organs and tissues. The human body has over 200 bones that vary in function. Some provide support and protection, while others are involved in movement by serving as attachment points for muscles. They are typically injured through fractures or stress fractures. 

Fractures tend to occur due to acute, traumatic incidents. They typically require a period of immobilization and usually heal over 6-8 weeks. Stress fractures tend to occur slowly over time and build up as a result of overuse or overtraining. Treatment typically requires a period of rest, with gradual reloading of the bone once appropriate. Stress fractures may or may not require a period of immobilization depending on the injury location and the extent of injury.


Muscles are soft tissues in the human body that are attached to and work in conjunction with bones to help you move your body. They are vital for movement, stability, and various physiological functions but are also prone to injury.

The most common muscle injuries are strains. This usually occurs when a muscle is overloaded during exercise or sport. Treatment usually involves gentle movement followed by slowly increasing the amount of exercise performed using the muscle. The recovery timeline and program progressions will depend on the severity of the muscle strain.


Cartilage is a connective tissue found in various parts of the body, often at the end of bones. It is characterized by its firm yet flexible structure and serves as a shock absorber between bones, providing support and facilitating smooth joint movement.

Cartilage plays a crucial role in joint function and overall movement, helping to reduce friction and protect underlying structures. Cartilage can be affected by both acute and chronic injuries. 

Acute injuries frequently occur during sports or falls, causing damage to a section of cartilage over the bone. The treatment for acute cartilage injuries can involve surgery, injections, or physical therapy to work on range of motion and strengthening exercises to protect the area. 

Chronic cartilage injuries typically develop into osteoarthritis. This is an injury that occurs over time, in which the cartilage becomes less smooth leading to consequences such as inflammation, joint stiffness and pain, and bone remodeling. The treatment for osteoarthritis focuses on improving the joint range of motion and increasing muscle strength around the area to better support the joint and prevent further degradation.


Tendons are connective tissues that attach muscles to bones. They play a crucial role in the musculoskeletal system by transmitting the force generated by muscles to bones, allowing for movement, power, and stability.

Acute tendon injuries occur through tendon tears such as an Achilles tendon rupture. The treatment for this type of injury can involve both surgical and non-surgical options. However, generally in both, bracing and offloading are required. Once appropriate, tendons are gradually reloaded through progressive exercises.

Chronic tendon injuries tend to be a result of overuse often leading to tendinitis. These types of injuries are usually best treated by gradually re-loading the tissues through exercise.


Ligaments are bands of fibrous connective tissue that connect bones to other bones in joints. Ligaments help with some joint stability, limiting excessive movement, and preventing dislocation or excessive joint strain.

Ligaments also play a role in proprioception, the body's awareness of its position and movement in space. They contain sensory receptors that provide feedback to the brain about the joint position, helping to coordinate movement and maintain balance.

Ligament injuries, such as an ankle sprain or ACL injury, are called sprains and are graded from level one to three.  

  • Grade 1 is minor tearing and usually heals within a few weeks of relative rest.
  • Grade 2 is moderate tearing and can take 1-2 months to heal depending on the area injured.
  • Grade 3 is a complete tear or rupture and can be surgically treated or treated with physical therapy. However, the ligament typically does not heal back together unless surgery is performed.

Ligament injuries are best treated by working on improving their range of motion, gradually loading them to increase strength, and incorporating balance/proprioceptive exercises to retrain joint stability.

Musculoskeletal injuries and MAVEN

We all rely on the function of the musculoskeletal system to move our bodies throughout our daily activities. Each component is crucial and needs to be properly treated by a medical professional if injured. 

Orthopedic physical therapists are specialists who treat the musculoskeletal system. The team at MAVEN are experts in anatomy, movement, and exercise, and help you return to sports or daily activities after suffering an injury.

Come in to see the specialists at MAVEN to assess and treat your musculoskeletal injury today!