How Many Ribs Do Men Have

How Many Ribs Do Men Have?

The average human being has around 200 bones in their body. These include all the bones of your fingers, toes, ears, nose, jaw and spine. There are also some other structures like tendons and ligaments which make up most of our muscles but they don’t count towards the total number of bones in your body.

There are two types of bones: cartilage (which makes up the majority) and bone (the rest). Cartilage is made from cells called chondrocytes which grow inside the cartilages. Bone is made from bony plates called osteocytes which form into long thin rods called fibres. Osteoblasts take these rods and fuse them together forming a bone matrix or myofibers.

The number of bones varies depending on age. Children typically have fewer than adults and adults generally have more than children. For example, a 3 year old child will usually only have 50% cartilage while an adult will normally contain 80% cartilage.

It’s not just the size of your bones that determines how strong they are though; it’s also what kind of bone they are. For example, the bones in your ear could easily be snapped in half but your long bones such as your arm or leg bones would take a lot more force.

As you grow older, bone undergoes a process known as ‘ossification’, which is the process of turning into bone. The longer you live the more ossified your body becomes. In some cases of rare diseases people actually become less ossified meaning their bodies almost become entirely cartilage.

The ribs are curved or flat bones which form the ribcage and are among the multiple bones that make up your skeleton. They start at the base of your spine and surround the lungs and heart. They help to protect these organs and also assist in breathing as they expand and contract when taking breaths. There are typically twelve pairs of ribs, starting at the top and moving down.

The first seven ribs are known as ‘true ribs’ while the last five are known as ‘floating ribs’.

Most people have between 24 and 26 pairs of ribs, however the top three pairs are usually missing or non-existent in most people, having vanished during embryonic development.

There are several types of bone in the body including the long bones such as those found in your arms and legs, short bones such as the skull, flat bones such as your ribs and the small bones which make up your inner ear. The shape of a long bone is roughly cylindrical but is modified to fit certain areas for example the inside of your elbow or knee. A short bone is just that, short like your skull, while a flat bone resembles a plate of armour. The small bones of the inner ear are shaped like maracas and are part of the auditory system.

The long bones are found in your arms and legs while you have around 60 of these in each limb, the flat bones make up your ribs, skull and spine which can be as many as 26. The final type of bone is the short bone which only has two in most people; the mandible or jawbone and the hyoid which is at the base of your tongue.

There are two types of bone in the body: long and short. The differences between the two types of bone are how they form and what they’re used for. Long bones are found in your limbs and are cylindrical in shape but hollow with an outside layer of cortical bone and an inside layer of spongy or trabecular bone. The spongy bone has hundreds of tiny holes which are filled with red marrow.

This marrow contains blood stem cells which produce red blood cells, the main carrier of oxygen in your body.

Your bones are living tissue and as such they continue to grow, replace old bone and die. The two types of bone tissue are compact bone also known as cortical bone and spongy or trabecular bone also known as cancellous or spongy bone. Trabecular means ‘little beams’ describing the tissue’s appearance, it has multiple little beams of tissue going from the inner to outer layers of bone.

Our bones are a complex but elegant system that helps protect our organs and keep us stable and upright. They give our body its shape and are vital for protecting our internal organs as well as giving us mobility. They allow us to move freely and without them we wouldn’t be able to walk, run or move effectively at all.

Bones are hard but pliant, strong but light weight and withstand great pressure and stress. There are 206 bones in the human body but they come in three different types which can be fused or altered in so many ways; it is no surprise that there are so many types of fractures and breaks!


Long Bones Long bones are the skeleton’s most common type of bones and are found in our arms and legs. They are long, cylindrical and have a hollow centre or marrow cavity within for muscle attachment. They contain red bone marrow where haematopoietic stem cells produce billions of blood cells every day, this is why breakages in the long bones such as the femur can be life threatening as it stops the production of blood cells, so if you break your leg you may lose blood faster than it can clot!

Short Bones The second type of bone are short bones. These bones are also found in the limbs but are not quite as long as the long bones and can be found in our wrists, ankles and knees. They are flat and angular so provide more strength to the joint as they form a perfect fit for each other when at rest. This means that when a force is applied to them such as a fall or impact they are stronger than the long bones which tend to snap under pressure.

Sesamoid Bones The last type of bone are the sesamoid bones. These small bones are found in places where tendons or muscles glide over a joint. These bones are nearly always discovered in the feet and hands as tendons glide over these joints. They are embedded within the tendon and act as a pulley system to make certain movements easier.

How Are Our Bones Repaired?

The treatment for any broken bone will be determined by the bone that is broken of course, and the treatment can vary from person to person. There are different ways of mending bones. For a simple fracture splinting and casting is used to keep the bone steady whilst it heals and as it is not inside the body it can be wrapped in a bulky plaster cast or splints made of wood, metal or plastic can be used. For more complicated breaks where the bone has torn through the skin, the bone may be surgically set and pinned this involves a general anaesthetic and surgery which fixes the bone in place with metal pins that are either screwed or clipped to both ends of the broken bone. This is fairly common for people who have suffered compound fractures, this means the bone has broken through the skin or another persons body such as a shattered elbow, wrist or hip for example.

Once the bone has been set and secured it is left to heal over a period of time. This time can vary depending on the bone, how bad the break was and the treatment, most minor breaks heal themselves in around 6 weeks, whilst more complicated ones can take up to 3 months to fuse back together and even longer for the complete feeling to return. After the bone has healed it will be left with a permanent bend, curvature or limp which depends on the type of break and which area it affected.

If you suffer a break whilst taking part in vigorous sports or activities your bone is more likely to fail as it is weakened so you may find that your bone is more prone to breaking again in the future.

Why Do We Need Strong Bones?

We need healthy bones to keep our body functioning and it is essential that we keep them strong by taking part in activities that can strengthen the bones such as weight bearing exercises, jogging, or brisk walking. Before the twentieth century it was common practice for children to be put through physical abuse by having them beaten with a cane or even spanked however this has now been proven to do more harm than good.

Instead children now are more likely to be involved in team sports or physical education which helps keep their bones healthy through activities such as running and jumping, in addition it has been proven that milk can also help keep bones strong.

Manipulating the body’s hormones is another method that can be used to help strengthen the bones, this is a long and complicated process and as yet is only used in cases where severe osteoporosis has set in.

There are various tests that can identify if you are at risk of osteoporosis, if you find that you have 3 or more of the following symptoms it is advised that you see your doctor who will be able to advise on further tests that need to be carried out:

You have broken a bone suddenly and without obvious cause.

You have a family history of osteoporosis.

You are a woman and after menopause.

You are a man and after age 70.

You are a woman under the age of 55 and you either have been taking steroid medication for over a year or have been amenorrhoeal (not had a period) for more than a year.

You are a woman under the age of 55 and have taken thiazide diuretics for over a year.

You are a man or woman under the age of 65 with a thin, frail appearance.

You are a woman under the age of 65 and you smoked during your teenage years.

You are a woman under the age of 60 and you have been taking the medication Fosamax, Actonel or Zometa for more than a year.

Osteoporosis is a silent condition that can lead to more serious problems such as spinal fractures and increased risk of bone death from the chest or hip. These types of breaks can cause major issues and in some cases death if not treated quickly so it is important to keep up your strength by eating a healthy diet and taking part in activities that can strengthen your bones.

Sources & references used in this article:

Stress fracture of the ribs in female rowers by DL Holden, DW Jackson – The American Journal of Sports …, 1985 –

Adam’s rib, or the woman within by U Stannard – Trans-action, 1970 – Springer

Relative volume changes of the rib cage and abdomen during prephonatory chest wall posturing by TJ Hixon, PJ Watson, FP Harris, NB Pearl – Journal of Voice, 1988 – Elsevier