The Bones / Skeletal System for Medical English Learners
Understanding bone and skeletal system terms is essential for medical professionals and students studying human anatomy. Bones are the rigid structures that make up the skeletal system, providing support, protection, and anchorage for muscles. Here are some important bone terms explained in Medical English at the B1 to B2 level:
Femur: The femur is the largest bone in the human body, located in the thigh. It connects the hip to the knee joint, and its strong structure enables weight-bearing and movement.
Radius: The radius is one of the two bones in the forearm, located on the thumb side of the forearm. It runs parallel to the ulna and contributes to the movement of the wrist and rotation of the forearm.
Phalanges: Phalanges are the bones that make up the fingers and toes. Each finger has three phalanges, except for the thumb, which has two. They allow for gripping, grasping, and fine motor movements.
Sternum: The sternum, also known as the breastbone, is a flat bone located in the center of the chest. It connects the ribs and forms the front part of the rib cage, protecting vital organs like the heart and lungs.
Tibia: The tibia, or shinbone, is the larger bone in the lower leg. It connects the knee to the ankle and plays a major role in weight-bearing, stability, and movement.
Scapula: The scapula, commonly referred to as the shoulder blade, is a triangular-shaped bone situated on the upper back. It provides attachment points for several muscles involved in arm and shoulder movement.
Clavicle: The clavicle, or collarbone, is a long bone located between the sternum and the scapula. It acts as a strut, connecting the arm to the body and providing support and mobility for the shoulder.
Vertebrae: The vertebrae (singular form “vertebra”) are a series of individual bones that make up the spine, also known as the vertebral column. These bones protect the spinal cord and support the body’s weight, allowing for movement and flexibility.
In addition to the basic bone terms, it’s important for medical professionals to be familiar with common bone pathology terms. Here are some key terms related to bone abnormalities and injuries:
Fracture: A fracture refers to a break or crack in a bone. It can occur due to trauma, such as a fall or impact, or as a result of underlying bone diseases like osteoporosis. Fractures can be classified into different types, including simple or comminuted.
Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by a decrease in bone density and mass, leading to weakened bones and an increased risk of fractures. It often occurs in older adults, particularly postmenopausal women, but can also affect individuals with certain medical conditions or lifestyle factors.
Osteopenia: Osteopenia refers to lower than normal bone mineral density, but it is not as severe as osteoporosis. It is often considered a precursor to osteoporosis and indicates a higher risk of fractures.
Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that commonly affects weight-bearing joints, such as the knees, hips, and spine. It involves the breakdown of joint cartilage, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. In advanced stages, bone spurs (osteophytes) may develop.
Osteomyelitis: Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone, usually caused by bacteria. It can occur through direct contamination of the bone, such as from an open fracture or surgical procedure, or through the bloodstream. Symptoms include pain, swelling, warmth, and fever.
Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that primarily affects children and adolescents. It typically develops in the long bones, such as the femur or tibia. Common symptoms include bone pain, swelling, and fractures.
Kyphosis: Kyphosis is a curvature of the spine that causes a forward rounding of the upper back, leading to a hunched posture. It can result from various conditions, including osteoporosis, spinal fractures, or developmental abnormalities.
By knowing these bone terms, medical professionals can accurately diagnose and treat bone-related conditions. Happy studying!