Skip to content

The bones

A typical healthy adult has over 200 bones in their body. Bones have a number of important functions:

  • support the body
  • protect internal organs
  • are attached to muscles to allow movement
  • contain bone marrow, which produces and stores new blood cells
  • store proteins, minerals and nutrients, such as calcium.

Bones are made up of different parts, including a hard, outer layer (known as cortical or compact bone) and a spongy inner core (known as trabecular or cancellous bone). The bone marrow is found in this spongy core.

Cartilage is the tough material at the end of each bone that allows one bone to move against another. The meeting point of two bones is called a joint.

Bones have two types of cells – osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Osteoblasts create new bone and osteoclasts break down old bone. Normal bone is constantly going through a process called remodelling, in which old bone is broken down and replaced with new bone.

Click on image to enlarge

Featured resource

Understanding Secondary Bone Cancer

Download resource

This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed July 2020 by the following expert content reviewers: Dr Craig Lewis, Conjoint Associate Professor UNSW, Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Prince of Wales Hospital, NSW; Dr Katherine Allsopp, Staff Specialist, Palliative Medicine, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Michael Coulson, Consumer; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; David Phelps, Consumer; Juliane Samara, Nurse Practitioner Specialist Palliative Care, Clare Holland House, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, ACT; A/Prof Robert Smee, Radiation Oncologist, Nelune Cancer Centre, Prince of Wales Hospital, NSW.