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Author Topic: Are muscles strong enough to break bones?  (Read 19046 times)

Offline Edward Neeves

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« on: 20/10/2010 08:30:06 »
Edward Neeves asked the Naked Scientists:
   
I had the unfortunate experience of a severe thigh cramp a few weeks ago, something that I would not like to experience again. This started a conversation at work the following week and I made the bold claim without any facts that muscles have the potential to break bones.

I was so confident in my claim I made the heady bet of a coffee with my boss, however I cannot find any supporting documents to secure by beverage.

Are you able to help?       

Regards,

Ed.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 20/10/2010 08:30:06 by _system »


 

Offline RD

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #1 on: 20/10/2010 18:03:46 »
What muscles ?, What bones ?

One person's arm muscles could break an others rib bones via a punch.

If we're talking quadriceps muscles breaking the femur they are attached to, I don't think so ...



http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ovWhdIKV5IkC&pg=PA93&lpg#v=onepage&q&f=false

The world record for the deadlift is only about 1000lbs.
« Last Edit: 20/10/2010 18:42:30 by RD »
 

Offline Geezer

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #2 on: 20/10/2010 19:26:19 »
I knew a guy who broke his leg while playing tennis. He didn't fall or anything. He was trying to make a shot and the bone simply gave out. It was below the knee I think.

Mind you, I always wondered if it might not have indicated some other condition, or a previous injury.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #3 on: 20/10/2010 20:14:18 »
Practically nothing ever fails in straight compression except in compressive strength testing machines.
That's why the small thin bones of my hand can break the relatively large strong bones of someone's ribs.
Also, when lift a glass to my mouth the muscles of my arm are lifting its weight in spite of a mechanical "advantage" of a bit less than 0.1
The leverage is against them- so they must be producing a force many times greater than the weight of the glass.
Citing the strength of one of the body's bigger stronger bones doesn't really clarify thing either.
It is said (though I haven't checked) that strychnine poisoning produces cramps so violent they break bones.
 

Offline RD

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #4 on: 20/10/2010 21:08:45 »
Found this ...

Quote
Bone fracture during electrical stimulation of the quadriceps in a spinal cord injured subject
http://www.archives-pmr.org/article/S0003-9993%2898%2990184-8/abstract

but this person had "severe osteoporosis".
 

Offline Ethos

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #5 on: 20/10/2010 21:56:09 »
I saw an arm wrestler get his arm broke in a match once so the answer appears to be yes. I'm not sure whether it was the Radius or the Ulna but one was broken thru his own effort.
« Last Edit: 20/10/2010 22:00:10 by Ethos »
 

Offline maffsolo

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #6 on: 21/10/2010 07:18:59 »
I hear that muscle cramps in the calf was caused from lack of potassium.

How much tention can a muscle apply while the body goes through rigor mortis?

Osteogenesis imperfecta, commonly called brittle bone disease.
The muscles will weaken also.

\BUT
"Electroconvulsive therapy - Electroshock (ECT)

Historical usage
ECT was developed in 1934 based on the mistaken belief that epilepsy and schizophrenia could not exist at the same time in an individual.

When ECT was first instituted, the procedure was performed on fully conscious patients, without the use of anesthesia or muscle relaxants. The patient lost consciousness during the application of the current, and experienced powerful and violently uncontrolled muscle movement. Patients would often break bones, especially vertebrae, and pull muscles from the violent convulsions induced by the seizure. Patients grew to dread the procedure, and it was not uncommonly employed as a means of punishment and sedation for difficult patients in psychiatric wards."

« Last Edit: 21/10/2010 07:43:44 by maffsolo »
 

SteveFish

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #7 on: 21/10/2010 15:50:36 »
Maffsolo:

Rigormortis does not cause muscle contraction, instead the muscles are rigidly locked into position. ATP is required for muscle contraction and its hydrolysis and binding cycle enables or powers binding of myosin to actin, molecular movement of myosin, and release of actin from myosin. After death, ATP slowly dissipates and muscles are left with actin and myosin locked together. Cellular lysis after death eventually begins to break down actin and myosin and the rigor goes away.

Also, did you know that electroshock therapy is still fairly broadly in use for those certain conditions where it actually helps.

Steve
 

Offline imatfaal

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #8 on: 21/10/2010 17:05:01 »
Steve, whilst ECT is still used - it is not right to say it is common (and you didn't) - a three month study in 2006 showed around only 1200 people receiving ECT (30% under detained under mental health act) and the trend is that the use of this therapy is lessening.

The researchers didnt really comment on the efficacy - but attributed the decline on complexity of informed consent, alternatives, and lack of knowledge of the procedure http://pb.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/full/33/2/61
 

SteveFish

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #9 on: 22/10/2010 00:44:46 »
Maffsolo:

You asked, within the context of how strongly muscles can contract how much tension rigormortis generates and my, somewhat indirect, answer was that it doesn't generate any tension at all.

As for electroshock therapy there is another perspective that should be considered beyond the excellent movie-- Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Psychiatrists are individuals who care about those with mental problems. For many years and up through the present there have been very few good cures, so whenever something seems to work these poor physicians try it on everybody and sometimes the therapy gets out of hand. I think that the prefrontal lobotomy craze was the worst. Electroconvulsive therapy does work for some. I can't remember exactly but I think some types of depressives are helped and it is much more humane than when it was first used. For example, there can't be any bones broken because a potent muscle relaxant is employed. I actually knew somebody who got this therapy. He would schedule his next treatment when he began to feel off and was eager to get it done.

Steve
 

SteveFish

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #10 on: 22/10/2010 22:35:54 »
Maffsolo:

Horse whipping was never one of my teaching strategies but in another world…. Thank you for the correction on rigor mortis, my spelling has never been great. However, if you want to play this game, check out how to spell tension.

Because this is a confusing topic, I will clarify. Muscle contraction requires ATP to be present and is triggered when an action potential, induced by a motor neuron synapse, causes the intracellular release of calcium ions from the sarcoplasmic reticulum to bind to troponin C. There are other requirements but these are the main ones. After death ATP quickly degrades and the muscles stiffen from rigor mortis as I already explained. Without ATP, actin and myosin cannot disengage so shortening of the muscle is impossible. The stiffening maintains the state of contraction (shortening) the muscles were in at the time of death. If some calcium escapes the sarcoplasmic reticulum before the ATP degrades the muscles can shorten to a new state of contraction but this is, as was alluded to by the Wiki article you linked (cold shortening), temperature related. When someone (or some critter) dies in a very hot environment, ATP degrades before the sarcoplasmic reticulum does and the body stiffens without muscle shortening. Muscle cooled quickly (e.g. beef in a slaughter house) will preserve ATP longer than the sarcoplasmic reticulum can hold on to calcium, and some shortening of muscles to a new state of contraction will result, but this is limited by the greatly reduced concentration of ATP.

To answer your question-- "How much tention can a muscle apply while the body goes through rigor mortis?"—the answer is very little tension if any. Further, if all muscles did contract forcefully all muscle tension on a bone would be cancelled by opposing muscles (no breakage). As to the general question regarding if muscles are capable of breaking bones, the answer is clearly yes, but not under everyday circumstances. Otherwise, we all would be familiar with many instances of people lying on the ground holding their broken limbs and groaning. Instances in which a bone is already under great stress (e.g. athletic event), or weakened by disease (e.g. osteoporosis), or where many motor units can be activated at once (e.g. electroconvulsive therapy) muscle contraction can break a bone.

As for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, watch it, you will like it.

Steve

EDIT-- Some of the above will not make sense within the flow of this topic because Maffsolo chose to delete a post. Steve
« Last Edit: 25/10/2010 03:04:41 by SteveFish »
 

Offline Edward Neeves

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #11 on: 24/10/2010 22:03:09 »
To clarify my question and avoid the "one Flew Over the Cookoo's" references... remember people my pride and a cup of coffee is riding on this one, not to mention the glory I could potentially have over my boss!

I understand that under normal circumstances breaking a bone through muscle action alone is going to be impossible, I am not counting bone weakening conditions like osteoporosis.

However given the power in muscles I was wondering if there could be a circumstance where the muscles alone could break a bone. eg if opposing muscles both cramped or contracted in a leg or arm, could this break a bone.

ECT is probably a prime example, does this has the potential to snap a bone?
 

Offline maffsolo

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #12 on: 25/10/2010 01:13:16 »
Sorry Ed! I took care of my non scence. Steve will need to stepup and handle his.
My searches only lead me to ECT.
I tried to compare the condition of Rigor, how tight the muscles would get under that condition, I thought would be the most natural of conditions.
I did not see any mention of bones breaking.
Only when the body is under that electric shock.
 
 

Offline maffsolo

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #13 on: 25/10/2010 01:23:38 »
Plug this phrase into a well known search engine see what results will follow.

"Electroconvulsive therapy bone breaking"

I can fill your thread up with example links this would be the easiest.
« Last Edit: 25/10/2010 01:26:58 by maffsolo »
 

Offline maffsolo

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #14 on: 25/10/2010 16:47:40 »
Practically nothing ever fails in straight compression except in compressive strength testing machines.
That's why the small thin bones of my hand can break the relatively large strong bones of someone's ribs.
Also, when lift a glass to my mouth the muscles of my arm are lifting its weight in spite of a mechanical "advantage" of a bit less than 0.1
The leverage is against them- so they must be producing a force many times greater than the weight of the glass.
Citing the strength of one of the body's bigger stronger bones doesn't really clarify thing either.
It is said (though I haven't checked) that strychnine poisoning produces cramps so violent they break bones.

Off the subject just a little
strychnine poisoning, interesting BC, thanks, read a little on it, imagining the person's head and heals only touching a surface their body arching upwards to the ceiling almost folded or bent in half. Fractures to the back bones?
An unnatural condition, unnatural cause, a foreign agent, chemically induced.

It still falls under the heading can muscles break bones. As long no other untold conditions were given in the bet...

With respect to BC and post placed, put this phrase in a popular search engine
 "strychnine poisoning breaking bones"
You will find it also in abundance.

Ed, although the evidence shows to be in your favor, in my opinion, you came up short on the final rewards.
 Ed you should of asked for a raise with lunch for a month at the best restaurants. [Kidding chuckle]

Na, you will go and play, 19 holes of Golf with your boss and let him win! That 19th is the longest running.



 
« Last Edit: 25/10/2010 17:22:03 by maffsolo »
 

SteveFish

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #15 on: 29/10/2010 17:07:59 »
Miami:

Everybody looses bone mass as they get older. When this occurs quickly, or when the bone loss crosses the boundary where it is dangerous, it is called osteoporosis. This is a condition that effects both men and women, but men start out adulthood with more bone mass than women so it takes longer for them. Osteoporosis is not just the loss of calcium, the bone actually looses structure and becomes more porous.

Bones are renewed throughout life by a process called remodeling, and this normally rebuilds new bone with the same strength. It is the balance of how much is broken down to the amount that is rebuilt that gets out of adjustment with age. Fortunately, there are drugs being developed that mimic hormones that help control this balance. Regular weight bearing exercise is a strong deterrent of osteoporosis.

Steve 
 

Offline NotSoGrim

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
« Reply #16 on: 31/10/2010 01:43:09 »
Muscles do not break bone, they are not attached to bones.  Tendons and ligaments can tear off bone.  It really hurts. It happened to me, the pictures ( x-rays), made it extremely clear what happend. 

It is true that muscles are responsible for movement, and through that movement, damage could happen. 

 Who put that wall there. :)
 

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Are muscles strong enough to break bones?
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