Bones come in different shapes and sizes, and one of the categories is short bones. Short bones are bones that are roughly cuboidal or spherical in shape, and their length, width, and height are almost the same. They are found mainly in the wrist and ankle joints, although there are a few other short bones in the body.

Anatomy of Short Bones

The structure of short bones is quite simple. They consist of a thin layer of compact bone tissue on the outside, with a network of spongy or cancellous bone tissue on the inside. The spongy bone tissue contains numerous small spaces, called trabeculae, which provide strength while reducing the overall weight of the bone.

Short bones also have a covering of articular cartilage on the ends, which is a smooth, slippery tissue that helps to reduce friction between adjacent bones in a joint. The articular cartilage is particularly important in the wrist and ankle joints, where the small size of the bones means that they are subject to significant pressure and wear.

Function of Short Bones

The primary function of short bones is to provide support and stability to the joints where they are found. In the wrist and ankle joints, the short bones act as shock absorbers, distributing forces evenly across the joint surfaces to protect the bones from damage. They also help to maintain the alignment of the bones in the joint, which is crucial for proper joint function.

Short bones also play a role in movement. They are not directly involved in muscle attachment like long bones, but they provide a smooth surface for the tendons to glide over, allowing the muscles to move the bones efficiently.

Types of Short Bones

  1. Carpals: The carpals are eight small bones in the wrist that provide stability and support for the hand. They are arranged in two rows of four and allow for a range of wrist movement.
  2. Tarsals: The tarsals are seven small bones in the ankle that provide stability and support for the foot. They are arranged in two rows and allow for a range of ankle movement.
  3. Patella: The patella, or kneecap, is a small, flat bone located in front of the knee joint. It helps to protect the knee joint and provides leverage for the thigh muscles.

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