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A bowl of chopped fruits, vegetables, and chicken, along with shredded cheese.
Figure 19.1 Proper nutrition promotes a healthy integumentary and musculoskeletal system. (credit: modification of work “Balsamic Roasted Turkey Salad Ingredients” by Alabama Extension; ACES | Janet Guynn/Flickr, Public Domain)

These two systems, musculoskeletal and integumentary, are considered together because they are dependent upon one another to keep the body in homeostasis. The musculoskeletal system comprises bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons and is a part of the body’s internal environment that supports the muscles, protects the organs, and aids in movement. The integumentary system encompasses the skin, hair, nails, sweat glands, sebaceous glands, and nerves on the skin. The integumentary system serves as a barrier to protect the musculoskeletal system and other systems from the external environment. Subcutaneous fat absorbs impact from the external environment and protects the musculoskeletal system from trauma. The skin serves as a barrier against germs that would attempt to invade the body and cause harm (Academic Master, Biology, 2018).

A good example of the relationship between the two systems is seen with pressure wounds. As the outer layer of the skin suffers irritation and damage, there is potential risk for the progression of the wounds through the subcutaneous fat, tendons, and even the bones. When this happens, bone inflammation from infection—osteomyelitis—occurs. With this relationship in mind, it is imperative that the skin integrity of the client always be maintained. Adequate intake of proper nutrients is essential for the musculoskeletal system for bone growth and bone health. The quality and amount of nutritional intake affects muscle mass, strength, and the ability for muscles to repair themselves after injury. The integumentary system is also dependent on essential dietary nutrients to maintain integrity and proper functioning. Many disease processes affect both the musculoskeletal and the integumentary systems.

Consider this case: Mrs. Anne Wilson, a 70-year-old Black woman is referred by the primary care provider to a rheumatologist for complaints of pain and swelling in both knees. Anne states that the ibuprofen that was earlier prescribed is no longer treating the pain. The nurse at the rheumatologist’s office notices that Anne appears anxious with a facial grimace and states that she is having 8/10 pain in both knees. The client states that she only got a few hours of sleep last night due to the pain. Anne reports that she exercises daily by walking, but she admits that her nutritional intake could improve.

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