When a baby is born, it has nearly 300 bones, some of which are made of cartilage. Overtime some of these fuse together to create the approximately 206 bones found in the adult human body.
The bones in your body are made of a combination of materials including protein, minerals, and bone cells. The outer area of your bone is sometimes called the periosteum which includes many blood vessels and nerves.
Following the periosteum, there is the compact layer. This part of the bone is what you are used to seeing when you think of a skeleton. Compact bone is solid, durable and smooth. There are layers in the compact bone which have a sponge-like appearance called cancellous. This bone is extremely strong even though it is not as tough as the compact bone.
The inner layer of the bone is called the bone marrow. Bone marrow has a jelly-like consistency and it creates blood cells. Sometimes bones break or fracture. Broken bones range in severity from a thin break like a hairline fracture to an open fracture where the bone is visible through a person's skin or a complete fracture where bones separate into two or more pieces.
You might be surprised how many different bones are in certain areas of your body. Consider the following:
- There are 26 in each of your feet.
- Each hand has 27 -- 14 phalanges, 8 carpals and 5 metacarpals.
- There are 33 in the spinal column.
- Your face has 14 bones.
The smallest bone in your body is the stapes or stirrup bone located in the middle ear and it is about the size of a tic tac candy. The longest bone in the body is located in the thigh - called the femur. It spans from your knee to your pelvis. The largest bone in the body is actually comprised of several bones joined together - the hip AKA the pelvis. The pelvis, shaped like a bowl, provides a lot of support to the spine.
One of the more commonly broken bones in the body is the clavicle or the collarbone. It connects the arm to the body. Though it is one of the first bones in the body to start the ossification process, it does not complete ossifying until people reach young adulthood around 21 years.
Bone is a tissue that continues to develop and change over time. Young people who engage in frequent physical activity tend to have greater bone strength and density than those who do not. Bone strength and density tends to be greatest in early to mid-adulthood and as we age, we start to lose bone mass.
There are some things you can do in order to protect, maintain and strengthen your bones. Here are 5 things you can do that are good for your bones!
- Wear a helmet when you engage in sports activities like biking or football. Also wear other recommended protective gear when engaging in athletic activities, for example: shin guards and knee and shoulder pads.
- Eat plenty of foods that are high in calcium and Vitamin D. This includes foods like milk and cheese, dark green vegetables and foods fortified with calcium.
- Engage in weight bearing exercises and activities like tennis, dancing, walking, jogging, climbing stairs and weight training.
- Avoid smoking. Smoking is recognized as a risk factor for osteoporosis.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Drinking a lot of alcohol can affect your body's absorption of calcium.
It is very important that you take care of the bones in your body. If you break a bone or have a bone related medical issue, you should see a qualified medical professional like an orthopedic surgeon. Orthopedic medicine is a medical specialty focused specifically on the body's bones, joints, ligaments and tendons.