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Healthy You

10 Fun and Interesting Bone Facts

By: Lauren McRae

Your skeleton, the framework of the human body, is what gives your body structure, lets you move, protects your internal organs and more. Throughout our lives, our bones are either growing (up until age 25) or replenishing. Our bones help us out every day, so why not learn a little more about them? Arif Ali, MD, Orthopaedic Trauma at NorthShore's Orthopaedic & Spine Institute shares some cool facts: 

Bones Facts

Your body is made of more than 200 bones.
There are 206 bones in the human body. Bones act as the “foundation” of the body and help make all of the mechanics of the body function properly. If one bone is broken, all the bones around it can’t perform their duty properly.

However, babies are born with 300 bones…how is that?
You may be wondering if an adult has 206 bones in the body, where do all of the bones go? The answer is that the bones don’t disappear; instead, the tiny bones fuse together to form the larger bones in the skeletal system.

You have two types of bones.
Your skeletal system consists of dense, hard bone called cortical bone, which are also considered “structural” bones, and soft and spongy bones called trabecular bones. These are found inside large bones, your pelvis, ribs and skull.

More than half of your bones are in your hands and your feet.
106 of them to be exact. There are 54 bones in your hands, fingers and wrists. 26 bones in the human foot.

The smallest bones are in the ear.  
The smallest bones in the human body are the malleus (hammer), incus (anvil) and the stapes (stirrup), which is the smallest bone in the human body. Collectively, these bones are known as the ossicles (Latin for "tiny bones") and their role is to transmit sound vibrations from the air to the fluid in the inner ear.

Bone is living tissue.
The collagen in bone constantly replenishes itself, and it’s a lifelong cellular activity. Every year about 10 percent of bone is replaced. As the mineral content in your bones is renewed, we get a new skeleton about every 10 years.

The biggest joint in your body is your knee.
At the knee joint, three bones connect: your femur, tibia and patella. These three large bones require an equally large joint to connect them. That’s why your knee is the largest joint in your body.

Usually, people have 12 ribs, but some have 13.
It’s rare, but 1 percent of people are born with a 13th rib. This extra rib, called a cervical rib, can cause medical issues like neck pain. Often, people born with this extra rib have it removed.

It takes 12 weeks for a bone to heal.
In general, children’s bones heal faster than adults’ bones. As soon as your bones break, your body springs into action to heal the injury. Within a couple of hours, a blood clot forms around the break. Next, a soft callus made of mostly collagen is created around the fracture, and then a hard callus begins to form two weeks after the break. Depending on the person’s age and health, this process ends between the 6th and 12th weeks.

What’s up with osteoporosis?
As you age, it’s possible for old bone to break down faster than the building of new bone. This causes bones to have holes and become more fragile, which is called osteoporosis. Later stages of osteoporosis can include loss of height, fracture from a fall, or back and neck pain.  Of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about eight million or 80% are women. Approximately one in two women over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.