The 15 Bones You’re Most Likely To Break Before You Die

red highlighted clavicle
1. Clavicle Often known as a broken collarbone, you might be surprised to learn that this is one of the most common broken bones in the entire body. This bone is most often broken not through direct impact on the bone itself, but because of transferred impact from elsewhere in the body. When you fall and break your fall with your hand, the impact is transferred up your arm and to your clavicle. It accounts for about five percent of all broken bones in adults. Shutterstock
scaphoid x-ray
2. Scaphoid There are actually several different bones in the wrist, but we’re talking here specifically about breaks in the carpal bones. Most people have eight of those in each wrist, arranged in two rows of four each, and one of those—the scaphoid—is commonly broken. It’s the little bone on the thumb side of your wrist, and it’s most often broken when you break a fall with an outstretched hand. Shutterstock
broken radius x-ray
3. Radius The radius is one of the two big bones in your forearm, but when it’s broken, you probably won’t think of it as a “radial fracture.” (Hopefully your doctor will, though.) The radius is most commonly broken up near the wrist after falling on—this is becoming a chorus—an outstretched arm. You’re likely to think of this as simply a broken wrist. Shutterstock
broken femur
4. Femur Given that the femur is famously the biggest and strongest bone in the body, you might be surprised to find it on this list. In fact it is pretty difficult to simply break a femur, though it does happen in car accidents and things like that. But it makes this list because older people are liable to break the top of the femur in a fall, thanks to the weakening of bones that happens with age. It’s then referred to as a broken hip. Shutterstock
red highlighted metatarsals
5. Fifth Metatarsal These are usually 28 bones in each foot, and all of them can be broken, but the most common, especially for athletes, is probably the fifth metatarsal. This is the long-ish bone on the outside of the foot, connected to the bones of the pinkie toe. Because of its location, it’s easy to break: sometimes it’s broken because of repetitive stress, sometimes because of a rolled ankle. The fifth metatarsal is also very annoying because one part of it receives relatively little blood, meaning it takes longer to heal. A break in this part of the bone is known as a Jones fracture, and basketball fans will be familiar with it because it seems to take forever for basketball players to recover from it. Shutterstock
x-ray of metacarpals
6. Fifth Metacarpal Similar to the foot, the longer bones in the hand are called metacarpals. And also similar to the foot, likely the most commonly broken bone in the hand is the fifth metacarpal, which runs down the outside of the hand and attaches to the pinkie. A fifth metacarpal fracture is sometimes known as a “boxer’s fracture,” because it’s often broken when the patient punches something (or someone). Shutterstock
Rainbow T12 vertebra
7. T12 Vertebra Each of the (usually) 33 bones in the human spine can be fractured, but among the most common is the T12, at the bottom of the thoracic spine. Compression fractures there are relatively common, from applying too much pressure on that bone. This type of break is fairly common, especially for older women; it’s estimated that 40 percent of women will have at least one fracture of the T12 or a nearby bone by the time they’re 80 years old. Shutterstock
tibia x-ray
8. Tibia The tibia is better known as the shinbone; along with the fibula, it makes up the two long bones in your lower leg. This is a very serious break, as the tibia supports an awful lot of a standing human’s weight. It happens sometimes in car accidents, but the tibia can also be broken by violent twisting force—like a collision while playing a sport. Shutterstock
broken fibula x-ray
9. Fibula Known as the calf bone, the fibula is the smaller of the two lower leg bones. It doesn’t support as much weight as the tibia, but can be more easily broken with quick twists and turns, especially of the ankle. You most often find fibula fractures in sports that require a lot of sudden changes of direction, like basketball, tennis, and soccer. Shutterstock
red highlighted Ulna
10. Ulna There are two bones in the forearm, the ulna and radius, and both can sometimes be broken. Most common is to break these bones near one of the ends; falling onto the hand can break the ulna near the wrist, or on the other hand, near the elbow. Shutterstock
highlighted red humerus
11. Humerus Moving onto the upper arm, the humerus connects the elbow to the shoulder. A fall with an outstretched arm can sometimes break this bone in its middle or near your shoulder, but it can also be broken near the elbow thanks to an intense impact, like a car accident or a football tackle. Shutterstock
bleeding nose
12. Nasal The classic broken nose can be caused by all kinds of trauma to the schnozz. Fistfights, falls, accidents, and more can break the nasal bone, most commonly around the bridge of the nose. Surgery isn’t usually necessary, but a broken nose will often have to be set so it heals properly and evenly. Shutterstock
x-ray of ribs
13. 7th through 10th Rib Ribs are pretty sturdy bones, but harsh, sudden impact can still break them. Usually, these are hairline fractures, but anyone with a potential broken rib should see a doctor, because if the break isn’t clean, you’re in for some real danger. A jagged bone around the ribcage is not good at all. The lower ribs, numbers 7 through 10, are more commonly broken, sometimes through contact sports or accidents. Shutterstock
skull x-ray
14. Skull The skull—incredibly, just one bone, called the cranial bone—requires a great deal of force to break, but it can be done. Blunt trauma is the chief cause: either getting clocked with something hard, or when forces cause the skull to slam into something hard, as in a car accident. Skull fractures, because of their location, require a lot of special treatment. Shutterstock
Runner on the ground grabbing ankle
15. Tarsal Navicular The tarsal navicular bone is one of several bones in the midfoot, behind the toes and toward the ankle. It’s one of the most common bones to be broken as a result of stress fractures; some studies estimate that as many as 35 percent of all stress fractures are in the tarsal navicular bone. It is by far most common in track athletes; one study estimated that about 59 percent of these fractures occur in runners. Shutterstock