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Epiphysis of Bone: Definition & Function

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  • 0:01 Types of Bones
  • 0:57 Long Bones
  • 1:22 The Epiphysis
  • 2:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Virginia Rawls

Virginia has a master' degree in Education and a bachelors in Sports Medicine/athletic Training

Bones are more than what they appear to be. They are a complex network of cells and landmarks that provide support and protection. In this lesson, learn the about the different types of bones, parts of a long bone, and the function of the epiphysis.

Types of Bones

There are several different types of bones in your body. Even though they may look different, bones are united in their purpose: providing support for the body. Sesamoid bones are those that are surrounded by a tendon. Examples include the patella (knee cap) and some smaller bones in your hands and feet. Irregular bones are bones that don't really have a set shape, like vertebrae (bones in the spine), maxilla (upper jaw bone), and mandible (lower jaw bone). Flat bones are flat in shape and provide protection for internal organs. These include the cranium (skull bone) and scapula (shoulder blade). Short bones provide support and movement but are small, such as bones in the palm of your hand and middle of your foot, whereas long bones are the longest bones in your body, like the femur (thigh bone), humerus (bone in your upper arm), and tibia (shin bone).

Long Bones

To better understand the long bone, let's look at its different parts:

  • The ends of the long bone are called the epiphyses. Long bones are the only bones in our body that contain an epiphysis.
  • The shaft of the long bone is called the diaphysis.
  • The small section between the epiphysis and diaphysis is called the metaphysis. It contains the growth plate and disappears after childhood.

The Epiphysis

So, now you know what a long bone is and that it contains two ends call the epiphyses. But what exactly is an epiphysis?

The epiphysis is the rounded end of a long bone. Epiphyses are rounded because long bones form joints with other bones; the rounded shape lets them move more smoothly in the joint, giving you more motion. These rounded ends are layered with cartilage, which makes it easier for the bones of the joint to move with each other.

The epiphysis is made of two different types of bone tissue. The inner bone tissue is made of spongy bone, which is soft and contains the blood supply and bone marrow. The outer bone tissue is made of compact bone, which is hard and provides strength for the bone.

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