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The anatomy of the thigh

Pixabay / Ben_Kerckx

The thigh is an integral part of every human leg and therefore crucial for the movement of the leg. It essentially consists of the thigh bone, which is surrounded by muscles, nerves, blood vessels and tendons.

The thighbone, known as the femur, is the bony foundation of the thigh and, along with the thigh itself, can be affected by conditions such as fractures. The following article aims to clarify what the human thigh is and what functions and tasks it has. In addition, the anatomy and structure of the thigh are discussed and typical and common diseases are listed.

Table of Contents

What is the thigh

The thigh is an integral part of the human leg and part of the lower extremities. Together with the lower leg, it forms the proximal section of the lower extremities. However, the connection between the upper and lower leg is not continuous. The knee joint, which enables the direct connection, is located between the two sections.

While the knee joint connects to the lower end of the thigh, the upper end of the thigh connects to the pelvis and torso. Thus, the thigh is the conduction of the pelvis and its bones.

The connection between the thigh and the pelvis, like the lower leg, is not rigid, but always flexible. The mobility to the pelvis is greater because the thigh or thigh bone can move forwards and backwards. Due to the knee joint, however, the lower end of the thigh can only be moved slightly backwards, so that the movement forwards is provided permanently.

The femur arise from the thigh bone and attach numerous muscles at the same time. Among other things, the lower leg muscles and the hip muscles go directly from the femur. However, the thigh is not mainly made up of the femur, but rather the thigh muscles that surround it.

The thigh muscles are divided into three main groups. These three groups are the extensors, adductors and flexors. The thigh adductors are often incorrectly counted as part of the hip muscles, even though they are only part of the thigh.

The entire thigh has conduction pathways through which blood vessels such as veins and arteries, but also nerves, are conducted. In addition, the thigh has the pathway of the largest nerve in the human body, which makes it the seat of the sciatic nerve.

The thigh is also the longest and heaviest human bone. It bears the weight of the entire upper body and adapts to the respective body size. Thus, the length of the thigh bone is subjective.

Functions & tasks

As an important part of the human leg, the thigh is largely responsible for the movement and maintenance of every person. Nevertheless, the thigh or thigh bone has other tasks in addition to the movement of the body.

The thigh bone or femur is the largest bone in the human skeleton. Like the tibia and fibula, it is a tubular bone, which consists of compakta and cancellous bone. Compakta is a hard coat, whereas spongiosis is a soft cavity that is filled with blood cells.

Together with the hip socket of the pelvis, the femoral head creates the large hip joint, which, from an anatomical point of view, is a so-called ball joint. The femoral head of the thigh is connected to the femoral neck, so that the formation of the knee and hip joint becomes the main task of the thigh.

The knee joint, on the other hand, is defined by the condyles of the thigh bone. Without the anatomical unit, consisting of bones, joints and ducts, humans can neither stand upright nor move.

Since the femur is the only bone in the entire thigh, it must transfer all of the body's strength from the pelvis to the extremities below. This makes the femur extremely stable and has a high load-bearing capacity. The weight and length of the femur is different for everyone.

The quadriceps muscle is involved in almost every movement of the legs. The degree of its participation differs, however, so that it is high or low. The force applied can be transmitted to the lower leg via the quadriceps and patellar tendons, which are located on the kneecap. The cutting seat, on the other hand, can only be performed on the basis of the thigh muscles, in particular on the basis of the tailor's muscle.

Summary of the functions and tasks of the thigh

  • Movement of the human body
  • Maintaining the body
  • Formation of the knee and hip joint
  • Transfer of the body strength of the pelvis to the extremities below
  • Formation of the cutting seat due to the thigh muscles

Anatomy & structure

Pixabay / massagenerds

Essentially, the thigh consists of the thigh bone, the femur, which is surrounded by muscles, tendons, vessels and skin. The thigh receives its topography and structure due to its anatomical boundaries, which predominate above and below the thigh.

The thigh gets its anterior limitation through the groin and its posterior through the so-called gluteal groove. The femur ends about five centimeters above the kneecap or patella.

The shape of the thigh is not defined by the femur, but almost exclusively by the thigh muscles. The muscle tissue envelops the bone on each side, ultimately creating the typical shape of the thigh. The thigh triangle or Trigonum femoris is located on the front of the thigh, the Regio femoris. The back of the thigh, on the other hand, is known as the Regio femoris posterior.

Although femur is only the anatomical name for the thigh bone, the entire thigh is often used with this term in the medical field. The term stylopodium is used less frequently as a substitute for thighs.

Bones & muscles

The thigh bone or femur is the largest, heaviest and most stable bone in the entire human skeleton. The length and weight of the bone always depends on the person, so that the bone can be of different lengths. However, the difference in length does not have a significant effect on the weight of the bone, so even a slightly shorter femur will still be the heaviest bone in the human body.

Next to the biggest bone In the human skeleton, the thigh also has the strongest muscle in the entire body, the quadriceps muscle.

This muscle, which belongs to the thigh muscles, begins in the pelvis and attaches to the kneecap. It consists of four muscle heads and covers the entire front of the thigh and part of the outside.

From the outside of the pelvis, the iliac bone, the cutting muscle pulls in a spiral to the inside of the knee. Through the cutting muscle, the human being can, among other things, form a cutting seat. The thigh also has hamstring muscles on its back and adductors on its inside. The power transmission from the upper to the lower leg, however, does not take place via the muscles, but via the tendons that are located in the knee joint.

The leg muscles, which also include the thigh muscles, start at the pelvis and end at the foot. All individual muscle groups, called muscle boxes, sit close to the respective bone. They are surrounded by connective tissue, the fascia, which is the packaging system for the muscles. Together with the tendons, the fasciae fix the muscle to the bone so that the contraction or power transmission can occur at all. All muscles are also traversed by nerves, lymph vessels and blood vessels.

Femur (bone)

In the medical field, the femur is understood to be the human thigh bone. This is the largest, longest, and strongest bone in the entire human skeleton.

Pixabay / b0red

Its typical structure consists of an extremely strong middle section with joints at both ends. At the upper end, the femur is connected to the hip joint and the pelvic bone. At the lower end, however, it borders on the knee joint and the shin.

The long bone femur is anatomically divided into several sections. At the upper end of the femur is the spherical head of the femur or head of the femur. The femoral head, in turn, sits slightly angled on the femoral neck or femoral neck.

Together with the socket of the pelvic bone, the femoral head forms the hip joint, which enables movement of the leg. The size of the angle of the femoral neck is age and gender dependent, with the angle decreasing slightly with increasing age.

With increasing length, the femoral neck becomes thicker downwards. It is flattened at the back and front, which means that heavy loads can be carried. In the inside of the femoral neck there are trabeculae, which vary with age and thus increase the risk of a femoral neck fracture.

On the back of the strong middle section, the shaft or corpus femoris, there is a reinforcing strip or linea aspera, to which various muscles attach. On the outside and inside at the very top of the shaft there is a round bone cusp, the large cusp or trochanter on the outside and the small cusp or trochanter lesser on the inside.

Muscles also attach to them. The lower end of the femur consists of two rollers. The knots or condylus medialis and lateralis are covered with cartilage and together with the shin form the knee joint.

Illnesses & ailments

Diseases, symptoms and ailments of the thigh

Since the thigh consists mainly of tendons, muscles, vessels and a bone, it can be affected by various diseases. The most common or most important diseases of the thigh, including functional disorders or limitations, result from the anatomical structure of the body section.

Since the thigh is subjected to heavy loads on a daily basis, especially from standing or walking, it suffers from a variety of more harmless and severe ailments.

Wear diseases

The thigh predominantly shows signs of wear and tear, which often occur more frequently with increasing age. These wear and tear diseases can rarely be prevented, so they are a typical symptom of old age.

Congenital malpositions such as hip dysplasia can also lead to premature signs of wear and tear. The most common wear and tear diseases of the thigh are osteoarthritis of the knee joint or gonarthrosis and osteoarthritis of the hip joint or coxarthorse.

The wear and tear diseases of the thigh have different degrees of training. The higher the level of both wear and tear diseases, the more painful the restriction of movement will be. In particular cases of hardship, complete inability to move can even develop.

The arthritic change affects both the bony parts and the articular cartilage of the thigh. It causes a muscular imbalance, which is often accompanied by chronic painful muscle hardening. If the disease can still be treated with conservative therapeutic approaches, no artificial joint replacement is required. However, if the symptoms can no longer be alleviated with conservative therapies, the person affected must undergo an operation in which an artificial joint replacement is inserted.

Signs of aging

Femoral fracture

The Bone density continues to decrease, especially in older people. Due to the lower bone density, the thigh suffers from greater stress, so that even light stress can quickly cause a fracture between the femoral neck and femoral head.

Some of these stresses do not require extensive medical treatment. The situation is different with the so-called femoral neck fracture. In the vast majority of cases, this must be treated surgically in order to avoid deterioration. The healing process of the femoral neck fracture is fraught with complications and is often protracted.

The so-called age symptom of the thigh is also typical supracondylar femoral fracture. In supracondylar femoral fractures, fractures occur above the joint rollers, which almost always require surgical treatment.

A real femoral shaft fracture rarely happens. The femur or thigh bone can only actually be broken with great force. The femoral shaft fracture is often the result of a traffic accident with short, but strong mechanical impacts.

Muscle disorders

On the other hand, diseases of the thigh muscles are rare. As with all other large muscle groups, the entire muscle group of the thigh can be affected by painful myalgia, inflammation, and benign and malignant tumors. The treatment of these symptoms is carried out by a doctor and, depending on the hardship, may even require an operation and subsequent therapy.

Leg muscle discomfort

The thigh muscles are an integral part of the leg muscles, which means that they can also suffer from various ailments in different forms. These include general muscle pain, a loss of strength or function, restricted mobility and paralysis or sensory disorders.

The entire leg muscles include the skeletal muscles, all of which are located down the hips. It thus consists of parts of the pelvic girdle as well as the gluteal muscles, lower leg, thigh and foot muscles. All muscle groups in the leg muscles are so-called striated muscles. Your movement can be controlled consciously.

If the muscles serve to stretch the extremities, they are nicknamed extensors. Flexed muscles, on the other hand, are called flexors. All muscles that are brought in are adductors, those that can be spread apart are abductors.

Leg muscle discomfort

The most common complaint of the leg muscles is tension. The causes of tension are usually misalignments, injuries or overexertion. The degree of pain of the tension varies, so that certain tension can be quite painful.

Due to the fact that the human muscle groups each correspond to a different group, the tension complaints do not have to occur in just one part of the body, as they can spread to the individual sections of the leg muscles.

The pain in the leg muscles can set in acutely. Reasons for this include cramps, strains, a muscle fiber tear, a muscle tear or a tendon tear such as a quadriceps, Achilles tendon or tendon rupture. The diseases are among the typical sports injuries. They often occur on the back, the ischiocural muscles, and on the inside of the legs or adductors.

While only the smallest components of the muscle or the sarcomere tear in the event of a strain, individual muscle fibers are injured in the event of a fiber tear.

The muscle tear, on the other hand, is quite painful because it cuts a complete muscle bundle. As a rule, cold muscles tear more easily, so it is important to do warm-up and stretching exercises before exercising to avoid possible complications.

Training should also be started gently so as not to overwork the muscles and fibers. A typical phenomenon that becomes noticeable when overdoing it in sport is sore muscles, which can occur in almost all muscle parts of the body.

At the same time, malformations of the musculoskeletal system can occur in the entire leg muscles. Benign and malignant tumors, muscle inflammation or myositis and poisoning are also major problems for the entire musculature. While complaints such as cramps or tension can in many cases be treated by oneself and also go away by themselves, muscle malformations, muscle inflammation, poisoning and tumors can only be eliminated with medical therapy and / or surgery.

Typical diseases

Typical and common diseases of the thigh at a glance:

  • Wear diseases of the thighbone
  • Misalignments such as hip dysplasia
  • Movement restrictions or complete inability to move
  • Arthritic changes in the articular cartilage and bony parts of the thigh
  • decreasing bone density with age
  • Fractures between the femoral neck and femoral head
  • Femoral neck fracture
  • supracondylar femoral fracture
  • Femoral shaft fracture
  • Osteoarthritis of the knee / gonarthrosis
  • Arthrosis of the hip joint / coxarthrosis
  • Thigh muscle disorders such as inflammation, tumors and myalgia
  • Tension, hardened muscles and cramps
  • Pulled muscles, torn muscle fibers, torn muscles or torn tendons
  • Malformations of the muscular skeleton

Frequent questions & answers

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the thigh here.

Femur Problems?

What problems can the thighbone cause?

The femur, as the only thigh bone, can break at any point under the influence of great force. Often these fractures are found on the femoral neck. The femoral neck fracture mainly affects the elderly. Osteoarthritis of the hip joint, the so-called coxathrosis, is also common with increasing age.

The discomfort of the femur can be alleviated with suitable therapy. Nevertheless, an operation is often required in which an artificial hip joint or a hip joint prosthesis is inserted. Osteoarthritis of the knee joint, gonarthrosis, also requires a prosthesis in an emergency if it has destroyed the joint.

Prevent cramps?

How do I prevent thigh cramps?

Thigh cramps usually occur suddenly in the form of a stinging, pulling or twitching. Often they are caused by a lack of nutrients. If the nutrient deficiency is proven, the magnesium or calcium intake should be increased immediately. This approach is particularly advisable during pregnancy and menopause.

Regular exercise is necessary to increase the resilience of the muscles. Before exercising, it is imperative to warm up sufficiently to protect the thigh from cramps and to loosen the muscles. Massages and stretching exercises also keep the muscle tissue fit.

Femur Fracture - Duration?

What is the healing time for a femoral neck fracture?

The healing time for a femoral neck fracture always depends on age. While it heals faster in children, the duration can be longer in older patients. The femoral neck fracture is almost always treated with an operation, which requires about a week's hospital stay with subsequent exercise therapy.

After the first operation, a second usually takes place some time later, in which osteosynthetic implants are removed again. The second stay, however, is only two to three days. If complications occur, especially in the elderly, the hospital stay can be extended. After a femoral neck fracture, however, the leg cannot be fully loaded for another three to four months. The final load capacity is reached again about six months after the break.

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