Why Are Muscles Important?

Article featured on MedicalNewsTodayMuscles and nerve fibers allow a person to move their body and enable the internal organs to function.

There are more than 600 muscles in the human body. A kind of elastic tissue makes up each muscle, which consists of thousands, or tens of thousands, of small muscle fibers. Each fiber comprises many tiny strands called fibrils.

Impulses from nerve cells control the contraction of each muscle fiber. A muscle’s strength depends mainly on how many fibers are present.

To fuel a muscle, the body makes adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which muscle cells turn into mechanical energy.

Types of muscle

Humans and other vertebrates have three typesTrusted Source of muscle: skeletal, smooth, and cardiac.

Skeletal muscles

Skeletal muscles move the external parts of the body and the limbs. They cover the bones and give the body its shape.

As skeletal muscles only pull in one direction, they work in pairs. When one muscle in the pair contracts, the other expands, and this facilitates movement.

The muscles attach to strong tendons, which either attach to or directly connect with the bones. The tendons extend over the joints, and this helps keep the joints stable. A person in good health can consciously control their skeletal muscles.

Most visible body movements — such as running, walking, talking, and moving the eyes, head, limbs, or digits — occur when the skeletal muscles contract.

Skeletal muscles also control all facial expressions, including smiles, frowns, and mouth and tongue movements.

Skeletal muscles are continually making tiny adjustments to maintain the body’s posture. They keep a person’s back straight or hold their head in one position. Together with the tendons, they keep the bones in the right position so that the joints do not dislocate.

Skeletal muscles also generate heat when they contract and release, and this helps maintain body temperature. Nearly 85%Trusted Source of the heat that the body produces comes from muscle contraction.

Types of skeletal muscle

The two main types of skeletal muscle are slow-twitch and fast-twitch.

Type I, red, or slow-twitch muscles

These are dense and rich in myoglobin and mitochondria. They have capillaries, which give them their red color. This type of muscle can contract for a long time without much effort. Type I muscles can sustain aerobic activity using carbohydrates and fats as fuel.

Type II, white, or fast-twitch muscles

These muscles can contract rapidly and with a lot of force. The contraction is strong but short-lived. This type of muscle is responsible for most of the body’s muscle strength and its increase in mass after periods of weight training. Compared with slow-twitch muscle, it is less dense in myoglobin and mitochondria.

Striated muscles

Skeletal muscles are striated, which means that they consist of thousands of equally sized sarcomeres, or muscle units, which have transverse bands. A striated muscle appears striped under a microscope because of these bands.

When the bands in the sarcomeres relax or contract, the whole muscle extends or relaxes.

Different bands within each muscle interact, allowing the muscle to move powerfully and smoothly.

Smooth muscles

Smooth musclesTrusted Source are responsible for movements in the stomach, intestines, blood vessels, and hollow organs. The smooth muscles in the bowel are also called visceral muscles.

These muscles work automatically, with a person being unaware that they are using them. Unlike skeletal muscles, they do not depend on conscious thought.

Many different bodily movements depend on smooth muscle contractions. These include the intestinal walls pushing food forward, the uterus contracting during childbirth, and the pupils shrinking and expanding to accommodate the amount of light available.

Smooth muscles are also present within the walls of the bladder and the bronchi. The arrector pili muscles in the skin, which make the hair stand up, also comprise smooth muscle fibers.

Cardiac muscles

Cardiac muscle are responsible for the heartbeat and only exist in the heart.

These muscles work automatically without stopping, day and night. They are similar in structure to the skeletal muscles, so doctors sometimes classify them as striated muscles.

The cardiac muscles contract so that the heart can squeeze out blood and then relax so that it can fill up with blood again.

What can go wrong with muscles?

A wide range of problems can arise with muscles.

Some common ones are:

  • A muscle cramp, or Charley horse: These can result from dehydration, low levels of potassium or magnesium, some neurologic or metabolic disorders, and certain drugs.
  • Congenital muscle abnormalities: Some people are born with muscles or groups of muscles that are not properly developed. These abnormalities can be an isolated problem or part of a syndrome.
  • Muscle weakness: Problems with the nervous system can impair the transmission of messages between the brain and muscles.

Muscle weakness

Muscle weakness can affect people with upper or lower motor neuron dysfunction or conditions such as myasthenia gravis that affect the area where the nerves join the muscle. Stroke, spinal cord compression, and multiple sclerosis can all also lead to muscle weakness.

If a person seeks medical help for muscle weakness, the doctor will carry out a physical examination and grade the strength of the person’s muscles before deciding whether additional tests are necessary.

They are likely to use the universal scale for testing muscle strength:

  • 0: No visible muscle contraction
  • 1: Visible muscle contraction with no or trace movement
  • 2: Movement with full range of motion, but not against gravity
  • 3: Movement with full range of motion against gravity but not resistance
  • 4: Movement with full range of motion against at least some resistance that the examiner supplies
  • 5: Full strength

If a doctor finds evidence of muscle weakness, they may order tests to identify the underlying problem. The treatment will depend on the cause.

If there is muscle pain, this may be a sign of infection or injury.

A person can often relieve the symptoms of a muscle injury using the RICE method:

  • Rest: Take a break from physical activity.
  • Ice: Apply an ice pack for 20 minutes several times a day.
  • Compression: A compression bandage can reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Raise the affected part of the body to reduce swelling.

If a person experiences extreme and unexplained muscle pain or muscle weakness, especially if they also have difficulty breathing, they should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Developing muscles through exercise

Developing muscles through exercise can improveTrusted Source balance, bone health, and flexibility, and it can enhance strength and stamina.

People can choose from a wide range of physical activity options, but there are two main typesTrusted Source of exercise: aerobic and anaerobic.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise sessions are typically of long duration and require medium-to-low levels of exertion. This type of exercise requires the body to use the muscles at well below their maximum strength capacity. A marathon is an example of an aerobic activity with a very long duration.

Aerobic activities rely mainly on the body’s aerobic, or oxygen, system. They use a higher proportion of the slow-twitch muscle fibers. Energy consumption comes from carbohydrates, fat, and protein, and the body produces high quantities of oxygen and very little lactic acid.

Anaerobic exercise

During anaerobic exercise, the muscles contract intensely at a level nearer to their maximum strength. Athletes who aim to improve their strength, speed, and power will focus more on this type of exercise.

A single anaerobic activity lasts from a few seconds to a maximum of 2 minutes. Examples include weightlifting, sprinting, climbing, and jumping rope.

Anaerobic exercise uses more fast-twitch muscle fibers. The main fuel sources are ATP or glucose, and the body uses less oxygen, fat, and protein. This type of activity produces high quantities of lactic acid.

Anaerobic exercises will make the body stronger, but aerobic exercises will make it fitter.

To maintain healthy muscles, it is important to get regular exercise and to eat a nutritious, balanced diet, if possible.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends doing muscle-strengthening exercises for the major muscle groups — meaning the legs, hips, chest, abdomen, back, shoulders, and arms — at least twice a week.

People can strengthen the muscles by lifting weights, using a resistance band, or doing everyday chores, such as gardening or carrying heavy groceries.

Protein, carbohydrates, and fat are necessary for building muscles. The Academy suggests that 10–35% of total calories should be protein.

It recommends good quality, low fat carbohydrates, such as wholemeal bread, plus low fat milk or yogurt. Although fiber is important, it suggests avoiding high fiber foods just before or during exercise.

Summary

The human body contains hundreds of muscles, of which there are three different types. Each type of muscle plays a different role in helping the body move and function properly.

Muscle cramps and weakness can indicate an underlying medical condition or injury. Some people are born with muscle groups that are not properly developed.

Medical professionals recommend exercise for developing muscle strength. Maintaining strength in the muscles is important for various factors, including balance, flexibility, and bone health.


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

Musculoskeletal Surgeries Explained

Article featured on MedicalNewsToday

Musculoskeletal problems can limit a person’s ability to move and function. This in turn can significantly affect their ability to work and perform day-to-day activities.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), musculoskeletal injuries and conditions are common, affecting 1.71 billion people globally. They are also the leading cause of disability worldwide.

This article discusses what musculoskeletal surgery is, who might need it, how surgeons perform it, how to prepare for it, and what possible risks it carries.

Definition

The musculoskeletal system consists of bones and soft tissues, such as muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons. These provide support and stability to the body and allow for movement.

Bones are rigid structures that make up the body’s skeleton. They provide structural support and protect vital organs. Joints are the connection point between bones, and ligaments, which are strong bands of tissue, further reinforce them. Tendons attach muscles to bones, while skeletal muscles are contractile tissues that allow the body to move and maintain its posture. Orthopedics, or orthopedic surgery, is a medical field that specializes in the care, diagnosis, and treatment of the musculoskeletal system.

Who might require musculoskeletal surgery?

Musculoskeletal surgery refers to various procedures that aim to:

  • manage or improve symptoms
  • reduce pain
  • improve mobility
  • correct alignment
  • restore function
  • improve overall health and well-being

A person may require musculoskeletal surgery in the following instances:

1. Trauma

Trauma from sports-related injuries and car accidents may cause fractures and dislocations that require surgery.

2. Infections

Bacteria can reach the bone through the blood or spread from a nearby infected area to the bone. This can happen after an injury or surgery and may lead to a bone infection that health experts call osteomyelitis.

Osteomyelitis can cause severe pain and permanent bone damage if left untreated.

3. Degenerative diseases

Constant wear and tear can cause structures such as joints to weaken and deteriorate over time.

Common degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system include:

  • osteoarthritis (OA)
  • osteoporosis
  • degenerative disk disease, such as spondylosis

OA and spondylosis may cause severe pain and damage. A doctor may recommend surgery for these conditions when nonsurgical treatments do not improve a person’s symptoms. Individuals with severe osteoporosis have very fragile bones and may need surgery to prevent fractures.

4. Overuse injuries

Overuse injuries, which health experts also call cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) or repetitive strain injuries, may occur due to:

  • repetitive work-related activities
  • overuse
  • staying in one position for too long

These expose muscles and tendons to constant wear and tear and repetitive stress, causing pain and inflammation. Carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, shoulder pain, and low back pain are examples of CTDs. Carpal tunnel release surgery is the most common surgery people undergo on the wrist and hand in the United States.

According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, low back pain is the most common musculoskeletal issue and the primary cause of disability.

5. Cancer

Cancer can develop in the bone or soft tissues. Surgery is the usual treatment for musculoskeletal cancers, such as sarcoma and bone cancer. If individuals with these types of cancer do not receive treatment, they may require limb amputation. The cancer may also spread to other areas of the body.

How do they perform musculoskeletal surgery?

The type of procedure an orthopedic surgeon performs will depend on the type of injury or condition a person has.

An anesthesiologist will give a person either general or local anesthesia. During open surgery, the surgeon will make large incisions. During arthroscopic surgery, on the other hand, the incisions will be small.

Below, we list some common musculoskeletal procedures:

Soft tissue repair

Surgeons perform this procedure to repair torn ligaments and tendons. This involves replacing damaged tissues with tissues collected from other parts of the body.

For example, in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, surgeons may use the hamstring tendon or kneecap tendon to replace the torn ACL.

These surgeries are typically minimally invasive, and people undergo them as outpatients.

Other examples of this procedure include:

  • fasciotomy
  • muscle repair
  • tendon repair

Open reduction

During open reduction surgeries, doctors realign fractured bones using hardware such as pins and plates. These hold the bones together and help them heal correctly.

In case of severe injuries, surgeons may use external fixators to keep the bones in place.

Learn more about bone fracture repair here.

Osteotomy

Osteotomy is a procedure that cuts and reshapes bones to realign joints or correct deformities.

Surgeons use knee osteotomy to relieve pressure on the knee joint and transfer a person’s body weight to the healthier side of the knee.

Doctors may also perform spinal osteotomy to correct spine curvature and reduce pain.

Moreover, osteotomies help correct deformities in the joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis.

Joint replacement

During joint replacement surgery, the surgeon removes damaged joints and replaces them with a ceramic, plastic, or metal prosthesis.

They will remove the damaged parts of the joints and replace them with implants. They will also include a spacer between the implants to ensure the joint moves smoothly.

Hip replacement and knee replacement surgeries are examples of this procedure.

A 2019 study found that total joint replacement improves a person’s quality of life and pain levels. This makes it a valuable treatment for people with hip and knee OA whose bodies do not respond to conservative treatment.

Joint fusion surgery

Joint fusion surgery, or arthrodesis, involves fusing two or more bones in order to:

  • reduce pain
  • limit deformity
  • improve joint stability
  • increase strength

The surgeon may remove damaged joint areas and fuse the bones using pins and plates.

Possible risks and complications

Orthopedic surgeries carry possible risks and complications. These include:

  • reactions to anesthesia
  • infection
  • blood clots
  • excessive bleeding
  • nerve damage
  • limited range of motion
  • scar formation
  • reinjury

The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday