What does orthopedics actually mean?

Orthopedics is made up of the two parts of the word “ortho” and “pädie”, which means “upright” and “educate”. In the literal sense, orthopedics is training to walk upright. Orthopedics refers to the field of medicine that deals with the supporting and musculoskeletal system – the part of our body that enables us to walk upright.

The musculoskeletal system

The musculoskeletal system essentially includes the skeleton or bones, joints, tendons and muscles.

This musculoskeletal system is an amazing structure: the bones are as hard as steel but light as aluminum. They account for only about 12 percent of body weight. Interestingly, bones are constantly remodeling. This means that bone mass is constantly being broken down and new ones built up again. While building up dominates in adolescence, bone mass depletion predominates with increasing age.

Development of bone mass in the different stages of life

Here you can see how bone mass develops at different stages of life:

  • 0 to 25 years:  building bone mass. The maximum is reached at around 25 years of age
  • 25 to 35 years:  Bone mass remains constant
  • 35 to about 45 years:  Loss of about 0.5 – 1% bone mass/year
  • From about 45 years:  Loss of about 1 to 2% bone mass/year

Our musculoskeletal system includes more than 100 joints, 206 bones and 656 muscles. The joints create a flexible connection between the bones. Their construction, with all the washers, membranes, bursae and the automatically controlled secretion of synovial fluid, makes you think of a high-tech construction. Muscles provide the power to move joints, and strong tendons take the strain.


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