Bone types

Author:  Dr. med. habil. Gesche Tallen, Editor:  Maria Yiallouros, English Translation:  Dr. med. habil. Gesche Tallen, Last modification: 2017/08/25

Based on their shape, human bones are divided into the following three major groups:

  • Long bones: the long bones are also known as tube bones, since they contain a large cavity filled with bone marrow. Most of the bones of our arms and legs, except the very small hand and foot bones, belong to the group of long bones.
  • Short bones: vertebrae, small hand and foot bones as well as parts of the skull are short bones.
  • Flat bones: the sternum, shoulder blades and ribs, to name a few, belong to the group of flat bones.

Good to know: in about 50 % of osteosarcoma patients, the tumour develops in the growth plates (metaphyses) of fast-growing long bones. (The growth plate is the part of the bone that grows during childhood.) Thus, the most affected bones are the thigh bone (femur), the shin in the region of the knee joint as well as the upper arm bone next to the shoulder joint.