The Musculoskeletal system

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Caring for your muscle and bones

The musculoskeletal system is made up of bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and muscles, which form a framework for the body.

Tendons, ligaments and fibrous tissue bind the structures together to create stability, with ligaments connecting bone to bone, and tendons connecting muscle to bone.

There are 206 bones in the adult skeleton; male and female skeletons are almost the same, but the female skeleton has a broader pelvis to accommodate childbirth and the male skeleton is typically taller with greater bone density. 

The most common health complaints involve the musculoskeletal system, from back pain to arthritis, to osteoporosis and joint pain.

Musculoskeletal problems can stem from chronic diseases and syndromes such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis to acute injuries like a pulled muscle or sprained ankle.

From about age 30, the density of bones begins to diminish in men and women. The cartilage inside the joints becomes thinner, and components of the cartilage become altered, which may make the joint less resilient and more susceptible to damage.

Caring for your framework

Bones need calcium, vitamin D, and exercise to stay strong.

Avoid smoking, and limit alcohol. Smoking and heavy alcohol use can make your bones thinner.

Exercise that causes you to bear weight or use resistance helps keep bones  and muscles healthy. Start with an exercise level that feels right for you and add a little at a time until you can:

  • Do 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise on most days of the week. Walking, jogging, climbing stairs, and dancing are good choices.
  • Do resistance exercises with weights or elastic bands 2 or 3 days a week.

​Corydalis (Yu Jin) is a tuber that has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

It is dug up, ground, and boiled with hot vinegar for the treatment of chronic pain. It contains a pain-relieving compound called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB).

DHCB has gained national attention because it does not generate tolerance and build up like the popular opioid morphine does.

Another effective herb for pain is Curcumae (Jiang Huang), which has gained popularity in recent years in remedies for chronic inflammation.

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