Everything You Need To Know About Your Femur Bone

It’s essential to know how our own bodies work. When you have this knowledge, you are better able to know what might be causing you pain and, if there’s an ailment or injury present, where that issue may originate. Everything in your bodily system interacts with everything else. Consequently, if there’s a problem with the femur or some other bone, that problem also impacts ligaments and tendons, which can cause problems in the muscles. Then, your posture can suffer, your nervous system may get out of whack, and so on. One critical body part that you should learn all about is the femur bone.

What Is the Femur?

2 femurPhoto credit by: skullsunlimited.com

If you have two legs, you have two femur bones, and these are the largest bones in your lower body. The femurs connect with your pelvic bone and these bones conjoin to form your hips. The femur runs the length of your thigh and connects with the kneecap and the tibia to create your knee joint. Most of this bone is covered by large muscles, so you can’t feel it as directly as you can find and feel the like muscles in your arms and lower portions of your legs.

This is the only bone in the upper half of your leg, and it runs from knee to hip. Because this is the only bone in this area of the body and it is surrounded by the thickest muscle mass, it must also act as one of the strongest bones in the body. This bone is so strong that, when healthy, it can sometimes withstand up 2,500 pounds of force. However, because it is so difficult to break, when a femur fracture occurs it takes a very long time (up to six months or longer) to heal.

Upper Area of the Femur

upper femurPhoto credit by: PhysiotherapyBrisbane.com

The upper portion of this very large bone has a unique shape. It has a circular head that looks like a mushroom ballooning out of one corner. This curves down into the neck of the bone, and there are two trochanters on the opposite edge of the top of each femur.

The head of this bone connects with your pelvic bone. This creates a lock-and-hinge mechanism, allowing your bone to move in a coordinated fashion with the pelvic bone. In fact, the ball-and-socket design so frequently used in automobiles and other manufactured items is based on the structure of this joint connecting the pelvic bone and femur.

On the interior of the bone, as the head tapers, there is a growth plate. This growth plate continues to push upward throughout childhood. In fact, your femur does not fully connect with your pelvic bone until your later teenage years. This is because the head of the bone does not develop completely until later in life, and it must grow sufficiently to fit and stay locked into place, which takes a period of years.

Body and Bottom of the Femur

body and bottom of the femur

This bone curves into a tighter shaft as is extends down your lower body. In the center of the bone (on the interior) the bonds are made up of marrow, which in turn consists of cells that our bodies do not “program” to act as specific kinds of cells. These are known as stem cells, and cells in bone marrow are used in various transplants and other medical procedures intended to promote cellular growth.

When a bone marrow sample must be taken, is most often taken from near the head of the bone because this is the easiest area to access. The lower portion of this bone looks like a two-toed foot because it curves out where it connects with the bones in the lower portion of the leg.

How Does the Femur Bone Function in Your Body?

femur bone function

This bone supports the entire lower portion of your body. However, beyond supporting the weight of your body, it must support all kinds of movements made by the largest muscles in your lower body. Simply put, most movements you make with your lower body are supported by your femur.

Quadriceps

quadricepsPhoto credit by: SalusMassageTherapy.com

The quadriceps, also known as your “quads,” are located on the front sides of your legs. These are some of the largest and strongest muscles in your entire body. The quads are known as such because there are four individual muscles that make up this muscle group. The rectus femoris is the muscle that wraps around the femur on the front side of the leg. This muscle connects to the kneecap, and it helps control flexibility and tension placed on the knee.

What other major muscles are associated with lower body movement? First, the vastus intermedius is above the rectus femoris on the front of the leg. This is the deepest of the muscles on the front side of the bone. Next, the vastus lateralis is the muscle on the outside the thigh. It is the largest of your four distinct quad muscles. It runs from the top portion of the femur down to the patella, or kneecap.

Finally, the vastus medialis is an important muscle on the interior of the leg. This one is shaped like a teardrop, and it attaches right along the bone and runs down the inner thigh to the patella.

Hamstrings

the hamstring

The hamstring muscles are located at the rear of your femur bones. Each hamstring begins at the base of the corresponding bone, near the kneecap, and runs upward to connect with the pelvic muscle. Each hamstring group is made up of three different muscles, each of which works along with the quads to allow your knee to bend and the femur to pivot within the pelvic joint.

The first muscle of the hamstring is the biceps femoris. This is sometimes simply called the “long muscle” of the hamstring. It begins right around the thigh and stretches down to the head of the fibula, which is connected to the patella.

The second hamstring muscle to consider is the semimembranosus. This is another long muscle that begins at the pelvis and runs down to the tibia. It covers the thigh region,  helps your knee bend, and also maintains tension on the knee when you need to keep your leg straight and extended. It also helps your tibia rotate. The semitendinosus is the third muscle of the hamstring group. It runs from the thigh down to the knee and also helps the knee flex, bend, or stay rigid when needed.

Ligaments and Tendons

ligaments and tendonsPhoto credit by: solidlifefitness.com

While the large muscles in our legs help stabilize our bones, ligaments help hold them together and allow these bones to move and pivot. This is especially important in the area where the head of the femur fits into the pelvic bone. The ischiofemoral, iliofemoral, and the pubofemoral ligaments are vital for securing the heads of your femurs to your pelvis.

These ligaments allow the head of the bone to pivot and rotate without rubbing against other bones. When these ligaments begin to break down and deteriorate over time, you may begin to feel sharp pain while walking. This can be due to the breakdown of tissues that leads to bone rubbing on bone, and it is one reason hip replacements are often required by aging people.

The ligaments, along with the muscles attached from your femur to your pelvic bone, are responsible for flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction. Flexion is when the joint bends; extension is when your hip and thigh straightens. Abduction is the right term when you shift your thigh away from the hip, and adduction occurs when you pull the leg back into the hip.

The Sciatic Nerve

sciatic nervePhoto credit by: MedlinePlus.com

The sciatic nerve is one of the most important nerves in your body. It runs down your spine and along your hips. Due to this, if you have nerve pain or problems with numbness in this area of the body, it might be because you have a pinched or compressed sciatic nerve in this region.

Why Is the Femur Important?

femurs important

Above all, this bone is important because it supports a large portion of your body’s weight and mass. In fact, each femur holds up about a quarter of the entire weight of your body. Without stable femur bones, you could not stand, let alone walk. Also, since the femur connects to your hip, it is what allows your legs to pivot. It also connects at the kneecap, allowing the joint to bend.

Also, this major bone is connected to the largest muscles in your body. Most of your strength and power come from the lower half of your body. While you do not need these bones to live, you need them to navigate around on your own. If you injure your femur, you may be placed in a full-leg walking boot. This will prevent your leg from pivoting or swiveling at all, reflecting the paramount importance of getting this bone to heal properly.

Conclusion

conclusion rubber

Photo credit by: 123RF.com

It is important to know how different bones are structured and how they function within your body. Everything in your body is interactive, so if there is a problem with one area of your body, the rest of your body may suffer, too. If there is a problem with your femur, for example, you will feel it in your hips and knees. Untreated, this problem may cause problems with your back, neck, shoulders, and other areas of your body. That is why it is so important to stay on top of everything going on with your body.