A brief understanding of human bone structure

A brief understanding of human bone structure

by Spc. Colene Copeland
Stripes Okinawa

Editor’s note: At Stripes Okinawa, we love to share your stories and share this space with our community members. Here is an article written by Spc. Colene Copeland from U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria. If you have a story or photos to share, let us know at okinawa@stripes.com.


Bone health is important for everyone. In the military, we have so many bone fractures, joint and ligament tears that it is crucial to understand the mechanics behind what is actually going on when anything weakens in the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system is a lot like a mechanical engineering simulation model, which has to do with physics, biology and chemistry. In the journal Current Chemical Biology, bones are described as calcified mineralized tissues made up of both organic and inorganic material and proteins.

We know human bones are made up of some material to keep us strong, but what is that material? Well, it all starts with chemistry. Bones consist of inorganic hydroxyapatite and about 25 percent water. Bones also have other organic protein compounds, such as collagen. In recent years, collagen supplements have become popular due to media reports that these supplements lead to a more youthful appearance. There is a science to youthful appearance that is a whole other article in itself. But it is not the supplements as much as diet, telomere length, human cells’ daily regeneration, and environmental element exposure, which will determine external and internal health. 

What happens when a bone obtains a fracture? Physics is involved as the force applied to the bone during physical activity will determine the type and severity. Some fracture types include open, closed, partial, displaced, non-displaced and complete. Ligament and joint tears happen when the body finds non-conformity when performing a specific physical task and causes physical stress on the ligament or joint.

Osteology is the study of bones. There are four different kinds of bone cells, including osteoclasts, osteoblasts, osteocytes, and bone lining cells. Bones are constantly remodeling their cells to either get stronger or weaker. When a bone conducts its cell remodeling, an error of strength can happen. Between the remodeling and the reabsorption of the cells causing imbalances can later lead to osteoporosis or other degenerative diseases, a 2015 study of bone tissue in the BioMed Research International journal found. 

Taking care of our bones, especially as we age, is crucial to overall health. Regular cardio and strength exercises are of utmost importance to keeping bones strong and healthy. We must nourish and feed our bodies with proper calcium and proteins. Follow physician recommendations about diet and allergies while maintaining bone health is also essential to keep in mind. Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle and taking care of your bones now is one step in the right direction for a better and healthier future.


Spc. Colene Copeland with U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria. She is pre-med studying Forensic Medicine, Space and Aviation and Engineering. Spc. Copeland is working towards becoming an orthopedic trauma surgeon focused on the musculoskeletal and joint system. Follow along as she writes about interesting bones in both humans and animals, dives into space medicine, forensic science, engineering, healthcare and medical topics.

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