What are short bones?

Bones are a form of extremely specialized connective tissue, consisting of a mix of a dense organic matrix and inorganic mineral component. They are characterized by their hardness and mechanical resistance. Bones are segments of varying shape, size and density, all of which constitute to form the skeletal system.

The surface of the bone is covered by the periosteum, a membrane connecting the processes responsible for bone growth and callus formation in fractures. The compact bone (or cortical), which is a layer of dense bone, is located below the periosteum; and underneath the compact bone, is the location of the spongy bone (also called trabecular or cancellous bone), which contains bone marrow responsible for the production of blood cells.

Depending on their shape formations, bones can be divided into long bones, flat bones, short bones and irregular bones.  Long bones develop mainly in length (such as the femur, tibia, fibula, radius, ulna, humerus); flat bones are characterized by having higher length and width than thickness (such as bones of the skull, shoulder blades, sternum); short bones are developed in a similar way in all three dimensions (such as the carpus and tarsus); and irregular bones are characterized by not having any dominant morphological element (such as in the case of the vertebrae). Under normal circumstances, bones stop growing when an individual has reached late teens or early twenties.

Short bones or court, are characterized by their development in a manner similar to all three dimensions (recall the shape of a cube), such as by poor mobility and the presence of numerous facet joints. Inside of the human skeleton, short bones are those which make up carpus and form the tarsus. They are formed from spongy tissue wrapped by a sheet of compact bone tissue.

Disorders associated with short bones include Brachydactyly and Achondroplasia. Brachydactyly is known as shortening of the fingers and toes due to unusually short bones. It is generally an inherited condition, though it can be a symptom of other genetic disorders. There are different forms of Brachydactyly (Type A, B, C, D, E), depending on which bones are shortened. Another skeletal disorder, known as Achondroplasia, is characterized by a unique form of dwarfism and bone deformity. It is often a hereditary disorder, caused by failure in proper bone formation. In both cases, treatment is not necessary, however, if problems present themselves (such as trouble gripping objects or walking), physical therapy may be recommended.

Calcium is an extremely important feature in an individual’s diet. Calcium intake is stored in the bones as a sort of mineral deposit, which in turn helps build stronger and healthier bones.


What function do short bones serve?

Short bones perform different functions in the human body:

  • They provide support and stability even in the absence of motion.
  • By interacting with the muscles and tendons, they allow movement of the limbs.
  • They provide strength, structure and mobility to the areas of the body from which they are composed of.
  • Like all the other bones, they are spares and storage of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium and magnesium, essential for regulating many physiological mechanisms.