Bones in the Leg

By Tracy Wilcox, ATC

Bones in the Leg

There are 4 bones in the leg. Adults will end up with only 206 bones, but babies are born with almost 100 more.  Bones don’t disappear as we grow older. Instead, these tiny bones fuse together to form the larger bones of the skeletal system. More than half (106 bones) are in your hands and feet.

Image of the loweer skeleton with labelled anatomy of leg bones or bones in the legs

Bones in the legs

Four bones make up the leg:

  • Femur
  • Tibia
  • Fibula
  • Patella

The leg bones are the strongest long bones as they support the rest of the body.

The 4 Leg Bones


The femur is the large bone in the upper leg also known as the thigh bone. It is the longest bone in the body. The head (top) of the femur articulates or connects with the pelvic bone forming the hip joint, while the distal (bottom) part of the femur articulates with the tibia and kneecap forming the knee joint. By most measures the femur is the strongest bone in the body.

image of femur with labelled anatomy

image of femur with labelled anatomy


The tibia is the larger bone in the lower leg also known as the shin bone. It connects the knee with the ankle bones. The tibia is connected to the fibula by the interosseous membrane of the leg, forming a type of fibrous joint called a syndesmosis with very little movement. It is the second largest bone in the human body next to the femur.

Tibia bone from 4 views with distal and proximal ends

Tibia from multiple views


The fibula is the long, thin and lateral (outside) bone of the lower leg. It runs parallel to the tibia, or shin bone, and plays a significant role in stabilizing the ankle and supporting the muscles of the lower leg. Compared to the tibia, the fibula is about the same length, but is considerably thinner.

The Ankle Joint Anatomy.

Image of fibula at the ankle joints


The patella, also known as the kneecap, is a flat, circular-triangular bone which articulates with the femur (thigh bone) and covers and protects the anterior articular surface of the knee joint.

The biggest joint in your body is your knee.  At the knee joint, three bones connect: your femur, tibia, and patella. Those three large bones require an equally large joint to connect them.  Excessive wear and tear between the patella and femur can lead to Chondromalacia Patella.

image of the patella or knee cap with tendon attachments and knee joint

Image of patella and knee joint

Protecting the Bones in the Leg 

Bones are designed to take a beatingBones can break but they’re designed to stand up to daily wear and tear. For example, some bones of the leg must be able to absorb two to three times your body weight in force. They must also be resilient. You take 1 to 3 million steps per year, so bones are built to take the constant use. Bones lose strength over time; but you can eat your your way to stronger bones.  Keeping them strong requires eating calcium-rich foods like dairy products, broccoli, and some fish. Exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, helps keep bones strong, too.

The skeletal system can support you for a lifetime of movement. Taking proper care of it ensures you can move longer, experience more, and have greater health. Knowing how to properly care for your bones can go a long way to a healthy, fulfilling life.

Related Articles:

Anatomy of the knee

Content knee anatomy

Knee ligaments

Knee anatomy

If you have bone problems, JOI has the solution.  To make an appointment with one of our Orthopedic Specialists, Call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below.  To book an appointment with JOI Rehab at 1 of our 12 locations, call 904-858-7045.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician in Jax.

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By: Tracy Wilcox

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