German Contact How to study Login Register

Register now and grab your free ultimate anatomy study guide!

Sidebar ebook trimmed

Bones

Contents

Anatomy

Bones make up the skeletal system of the human body and are responsible for somatic rigidity, storage of different micronutrients, and housing bone marrow. They also produce red blood cells and the various forms of white blood cells and provide structural outline and movement.

Of the two hundred and six bones in an adult human body, there are several types that are grouped together due to their general features, such as shape, placement and additional properties.

Recommended video: Types of bones
Types of bones that you find in the Human skeleton.

What is a Bone?

A bone is a somatic structure that is comprised of calcified connective tissue. Ground substance and collagen fibers create a matrix that contains osteocytes. These cells are the most common cell found in mature bone and responsible for maintaining bone growth and density. Within the bone matrix both calcium and phosphate are abundantly stored, strengthening and densifying the structure.

Bone matrix - histological slide

Bone matrix - histological slide

Each bone is connected with one or more bones and are united via a joint (only exception: hyoid bone). With the attached tendons and musculature, the skeleton acts as a lever that drives the force of movement. The inner core of bones (medulla) contains either red bone marrow (primary site of hematopoiesis) or is filled with yellow bone marrow filled with adipose tissue.

Bone marrow - histological slide

Bone marrow - histological slide

The main outcomes of bone development are endochondral and membranous forms. This particular characteristic along with the general shape of the bone are used to classify the skeletal system. The main shapes that are recognized include:

  • long
  • short
  • flat
  • sesamoid
  • irregular

Types of Bone

Long bones

These bones develop via endochondral ossification, a process in which the hyaline cartilage plate is slowly replaced. A shaft, or diaphysis, connects the two ends known as the epiphyses (plural for epiphysis). The marrow cavity is enclosed by the diaphysis which is thick, compact bone. The epiphysis is mainly spongy bone and is covered by a thin layer of compact bone; the articular ends participate in the joints.

Humerus - ventral view

Humerus - ventral view

The metaphysis is situated on the border of the diaphysis and the epiphysis at the neck of the bone and is the place of growth during development. This group of bones includes the: 

Short bones

A thin external layer of compact bone covers vast spongy bone and marrow, making a shape that is more or less cuboid. The carpal bones and tarsal bones fall into this category.

Hamate bone - ventral view

Hamate bone - ventral view

Flat bones

Two layers of compact bone cover both spongy bone and bone marrow space. They grow by replacing connective tissue. Fibrocartilage covers their articular surfaces. This group is compiled of the:

Sternum - ventral view

Sternum - ventral view

Irregular bones

A thin layer of compact bone covers a mass of mostly spongy bone. This group is not categorized by shape, but by bone content and includes the

Vertebral column (Fourth cervical vertebra) - ventral view

Vertebral column (Fourth cervical vertebra) - ventral view

Sesamoid bones

Sesamoid bones are embedded within tendons. They are found at the end of long bones in the limbs, where the tendons cross, for example the patella bone in the knee. Sesamoid bones protect the tendons from excess wear by reducing friction.

Patella - lateral-right view

Patella - lateral-right view

Clinical Aspects

Common bone diseases often affect the bone density, e.g. in young children due to malnutrition. For example, rickets is a bone deformity seen in young children who lack vitamin D. Their legs are disfigured and they have trouble walking. The damage is irreversible though surgery may help. Osteomalacia and osteoporosis are diseases seen mainly in adulthood.

Osteomalacia is the improper mineralisation of bone due to a lack of available calcium and phosphate. The bone density decreases and the bones become soft. Osteoporosis has been noted in all ages but mostly in postmenopausal and elderly women. A progressive decrease in bone density increases the risk of fracture. Patients who are on long-term steroid medication are in particular risk.

Get me the rest of this article for free
Create your account and you'll be able to see the rest of this article, plus videos and a quiz to help you memorize the information, all for free. You'll also get access to articles, videos, and quizzes about dozens of other anatomy systems.
Create your free account ➞
Show references

Reference:

  • Kyung Won Chung and Harold M. Chung, Gross Anatomy, Sixth Edition, Wolters Kluwer: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, Chapter 1, p.1-2.

Author:

  • Dr. Alexandra Sieroslawska

Illustrators:

  • Bone matrix - histological slide - Smart In Media
  • Bone marrow - histological slide - Smart In Media
  • Humerus - ventral view - Yousun Koh
  • Hamate bone - ventral view - Yousun Koh
  • Sternum - ventral view - Yousun Koh
  • Vertebral column (Fourth cervical vertebra) - ventral view - Paul Kim
  • Patella - lateral-right view - Yousun Koh
© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

Continue your learning

Article (You are here)
Other articles
Well done!

Register now and grab your free ultimate anatomy study guide!

Sidebar ebook trimmed
Create your free account.
Start learning anatomy in less than 60 seconds.