The Human Muscular System

The human musculoskeletal system consists of muscles and joints. There are over 640 muscles in the human body. The muscle tissues tighten and release to make movements possible. Muscles account for approximately one half of a person’s body weight.


The diagram above shows 30 of the major muscles in the human body. There are three types of muscles. The three types of muscles are striatedsmooth, and cardiac.

Striated muscles are also called skeletal or voluntary muscles. These are the muscles that move the bones as well as control the face and eyes. Striated muscles can be consciously controlled.

Smooth muscles are also known as visceral, involuntary, or unstriated muscles. The body has no control over these muscles, which move the internal organs. Blood vessels and secretory ducts also contain smooth muscles.

Cardiac muscles are a combination of the striated and smooth muscles. These muscles are striated in appearance but movement cannot be controlled. Branching fibers from the cardiac muscles form most of the wall of the heart and control the heartbeat.

In preparing this lesson we were faced with the overwhelming reality that there are an estimated 642 muscles in the human body. We decided to create individual lessons for each of the major muscle groups. Before proceeding to the major muscle groups, we’ll list the important root words and suffixes related to muscles.

Root Words For the Muscular System
Duct/oTo draw
Fasci/oBand of tissue surround muscle
Leiomy/oSmooth visceral muscle
Myocari/oHeart muscle
Pronati/oBackward or facing down
Rhabdomy/oSkeletal or striated muscle
Sarc/oSoft, fleshy or connective tissue
Supinato/oForward or facing up

The chart below shows the suffixes related to the muscular system.

Suffixes Related to the Muscular System
-algiaPain in fibrous tissue
-desisSurgical fixation
-ectomyRemoval or excision by surgery
-graphyThe process of recording
-ologyThe study of
-omaMass or tumor
-otomyTo cut into
-rrhapySuture repair

The glossary below includes some of the more common medical terms you’ll encounter related to the musculoskeletal system and related medical conditions.

AbductionDrawing away from the center of the body.
AdductionDrawing toward the center of the body.
ALSAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Muscle disorder or atrophy with degeneration of nerves in the spinal cord and lower region of the brain.
AtrophyWeakening of a muscle due to lack of use.
BursitisInflammation of the bursa sac.
DiathermyApplying heat to deep tissues.
Dupuytren’s contractureDisease causing the ring finger and little finger to contract toward the palm.
DyskinesiaDifficult body movement.
DystrophyAbnormal development.
EversionTurning outward.
ExtensionMovement in which a limb is placed in a straight position.
FasciaBand of tissue surrounding muscle.
FasciectomyExcision of fascia.
FascitisInflammation of fascia.
FlexionMovement in which a limb is bent.
FibromyalgiaPain in  tissues of muscles, tendons, or ligaments.
HyperkinesiaExcessive body movement.
InversionTurning inward.
KinesiologyStudy of movement.
LeiomyomaBenign tumor of smooth muscle.
LeiomyosarcomaMalignant tumor of smooth muscle.
LigamentMaterial that binds one bone to another.
MuosarcomaMalignant tumor of muscle tissue.
Muscular DystrophyDisease characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of muscle fibers.
MyalgiaMuscle pain.
MyastheniaMuscle weakness.
MyoclonusRelaxing and contracting a muscle in rapid succession.
MyologyStudy of muscles.
MyopathyThe name for any type of muscular disease.
MyoplastySurgical repair of a muscle.
MyorrhapySuturing of a muscle.
Polymyalgia rheumaticaMuscle pain without arthritis or signs of muscle weakness.
PronationMovement that turns the palm of the hand downward.
RotationTurning on its own axis.
SupinationMovement that turns the palm of the hand downward.
TendonThe connective tissue that binds muscles to bones.
Tennis elbowInflammation of the tendon that connects the arm muscle to the elbow.
TenodesisSurgical fixation of a tendon.
TenodyniaPain in a tendon.
TenomyoplastySurgical repair of a muscle and tendon.
TenorrhapySuturing of a tendon.
TenosynovitisInflammation of the tendon and the sheath around it
TenotomyIncision of a tendon.
TorticollisAcute myositis of the cervical muscles.

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