Medical Definition of Bone type

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Bone type: One of the four basic bone shapes in the human skeleton.

  1. Long bones: Long bones have a tubular shaft and articular surface at each end. The major bones of the arms (humerus, radius, and ulna) and the legs (the femur, tibia, and fibula) are all long bones.
  2. Short bones: Short bones also have a tubular shaft and articular surfaces at each end but are much smaller. The short bones include all of the metacarpals and phalanges in the hands, and the metatarsals and phalanges in the feet.
  3. Flat bones: Flat bones are thin and have broad surfaces. The flat bones include the scapula (wingbone), the ribs, and the sternum (breastbone).
  4. Irregular bones: Irregular bones are irregular in size and shape and are usually quite compact. They include the bones in the vertebral column, the carpal bones in the hands, tarsal bones in the feet, and the patella (kneecap).
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Last Editorial Review: 1/25/2017

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