Disorders Of Muscles And Bones

Sources: A Handbook Of Health

The Muscles and Bones Have Few Diseases. Considering how complex it

is, and the never-ceasing strain upon it, this moving apparatus of ours,

the nerve-bone-muscle-machine, is surprisingly free from disease. The

muscles, though they form nearly half our bulk, have scarcely a single

disease peculiar to them, or chiefly beginning in them, unless fatigue

and its consequences might be so regarded. They may become weakened and

wasted by either lack or excess of exercise, by under-feeding, or by

loss of sleep; but most of their disturbances are due to poisons which

have got into the blood pumped through them, or to paralysis or other

injuries to the nerves that supply them.

The muscles of an arm, for instance, which has been lashed to a splint,

or shut tightly in a cast for a long time, waste away and shrink until

the arm becomes, as we say, just skin and bone; and the same thing

will happen if the nerve supplying a muscle, or a limb, is cut or


The bones have more diseases than the muscles, but really comparatively

few, considering their great number and size, and the constant strain to

which they are subjected in supporting the body, and driving it forward

and doing its work under the handling and leverage of the muscles. Most

of their diseases are, like those of the muscles, the after-effects of

general diseases, particularly the infections and fevers, which begin

elsewhere in the body; and the best treatment of such bone diseases is

the cure and removal of the disease that caused them.

Repair of Broken Bones. If bones are broken by a fall, or blow, they

display a remarkable power of repair. The skin covering them

(periosteum) pours out a quantity of living lime-cement, or

animal-mortar, around the two broken ends, which solders them together,

much as a plumber will make a joint between the ends of two pipes. This

repair substance is called callus. The most remarkable thing about the

process is that, when it has held the two broken ends together long

enough for them to knit firmly--that is, to connect their blood

vessels and marrow cavities properly--this handful of lime-cement, which

has piled up around the break, gradually melts away and disappears; so

that, if the ends of the bone have been brought accurately together, you

can hardly tell where the break was, except by a slight ridge or