Elbow joint

Elbow joint: Anatomy & FunctionAnatomy, functions, innervation and blood supply of the elbow joint.
~ 4 min

The humerus is connected to the bones of the forearm by the elbow joint (articulatio cubiti).

Elbow joint (articulatio cubiti)
Elbow joint (articulatio cubiti)

This is a complex joint that consists of 3 simple joints:

  • The humero-ulnar joint (articulatio humeroulnaris)

Humero-ulnar joint (art.humeroulnaris)
Humero-ulnar joint (art.humeroulnaris)
  • The humero-radial joint (articulatio humeroradialis)

    Humero-radial joint (art. humeroradialis)
    Humero-radial joint (art. humeroradialis)
  • The proximal radio-ulnar joint (articulatio radioulnaris proximalis)

    Proximal radio-ulnar joint (art. radioulnaris proxirnalis)
    Proximal radio-ulnar joint (art. radioulnaris proxirnalis)

    The articular capsule on the humerus covers the fossa of the olecranon fossa, the coronoid fossa, the radial fossa, leaving the condyles outside the articular cavity. On the ulna, the capsule is attached along the edge of the articular surface, and on the radius – along its neck.

    Articular capsule (capsula articularis)
    Articular capsule (capsula articularis)

    Let’s learn about the structure of the humero-ulnar joint (articulatio humeroulnaris).

    It is formed between the articular surfaces on the trochlea (trochlea humeri) and the trochlear notch of the ulna (incisura trochlearis ulnae).

    Trochlea (trochlea humeri)
    Trochlea (trochlea humeri)
    Trochlear notch of the ulna (incisura trochlearis ulnae)
    Trochlear notch of the ulna (incisura trochlearis ulnae)

    According to the classification, the joint is helical, hinge, uniaxial, and combined (with the humeroradial joint).

    In the joint, flexion and extension motions around the frontal axis take place.

    The ligamentous apparatus of the joint consists of several ligaments (they are common to the entire elbow joint):

  • The collateral ulnar ligament (ligamentum collaterale ulnare) arises from the base of the medial epicondyle of the humerus, expands in the inferior direction and inserts into the medial edge of the trochlear notch of the ulna.

    Collateral ulnar ligament (lig. collaterale ulnare)
    Collateral ulnar ligament (lig. collaterale ulnare)
    Collateral ulnar ligament(lig. collaterale ulnare)
    Collateral ulnar ligament(lig. collaterale ulnare)
  • The collateral radial ligament (ligamentum collaterale radiale) arises from the lateral epicondyle of the humerus. Descending to the head of the radius, it divides into two bundles. The anterior bundle passes anteriorly and inserts into the anterior-exterior edge of the trochlear notch of the ulna. The posterior bundle passes behind the neck of the radius, covers it in the form of a lemniscus and inserts into the annular ligament of the radius.

    Collateral radial ligament (lig. collaterale radiale)
    Collateral radial ligament (lig. collaterale radiale)
    Collateral radial ligament (lig. collaterale radiale)
    Collateral radial ligament (lig. collaterale radiale)
  • The annular ligament of the radius (ligamentum anulare radii) covers the neck of the radius and inserts at the anterior and posterior edges of the radial notch of the ulna, holding it at the lateral surface of the ulna.

    This joint has no additional structures.

    Annular ligament of the radius (lig. anulare radii)
    Annular ligament of the radius (lig. anulare radii)
    Annular ligament of the radius (lig. anulare radii)
    Annular ligament of the radius (lig. anulare radii)

    Let’s learn about the structure of the humero-radial joint (articulatio humeroradialis).

    Humero-radial joint (art. humeroradialis)
    Humero-radial joint (art. humeroradialis)

    It is formed between the articular surfaces on the capitulum of the humerus (capitulum humeri) and the fossa of the head of the radius (fovea articularis radii).

    Capitulum of the humerus (capitulum humeri)
    Capitulum of the humerus (capitulum humeri)
    Radial fossa (fossa radialis)
    Radial fossa (fossa radialis)

    According to the classification, the joint is spherical, biaxial, and combined (with the humero-ulnar, proximal radio-ulnar and distal radio-ulnar joints).

    The following range of motions is possible in the joint:

  • Around the frontal axis: flexion and extension.

  • Around the vertical axis: pronation upon inward rotation, and supination upon outward rotation.

    This joint has no additional structures.

    Let’s learn the structure of the proximal radio-ulnar joint (articulatio radioulnaris proximalis).

    Proximal radio-ulnar joint (art. radioulnaris proxirnalis)
    Proximal radio-ulnar joint (art. radioulnaris proxirnalis)

    It is formed between the articular surfaces on the articular circumference of the radius (circumferentia articularis radii) and the radial notch of the ulna (incisura radialis ulnae).

    Articular circumference of the radius (circumferentia articularis radii)
    Articular circumference of the radius (circumferentia articularis radii)
    Radial notch of the ulna (incisura radialis ulnae)
    Radial notch of the ulna (incisura radialis ulnae)

    According to the classification, the joint is cylindrical, uniaxial, and combined (with the humeroradial and distal radio-ulnar joints).

    Motions around the frontal axis, namely rotation, are possible in this joint.

    In addition to the already mentioned ligaments, the ligamentous apparatus consists of the quadrate ligament (ligamentum quadratum). It connects the distal edge of the radial notch of the ulna with the neck of the radius.

    Quadrate ligament (lig. quadratum)
    Quadrate ligament (lig. quadratum)

    This joint has no additional structures.

    The following vessels and nerves take part in the blood supply and innervation of the elbow joint.

  • Arteries: cubital anastomosis (rete articulare cubiti)

  • Veins: the blood outflows through the veins with the same name

  • Nerves: ulnar nerve (n. ulnaris)

Dictionary

Elbow joint

Elbow joint
art. cubiti
Humero-ulnar joint
art. humeroulnaris
Humeroradial joint
art. humeroradialis
Proximal radio-ulnar joint
art. radioulnaris
Humerus
proximalis
Ulna
humerus ulna
Radius
radius
Olecranon fossa
fossa olecrani
Coronoid fossa
fossa coronoidea
Radial fossa
fossa radialis
Trochlea
trochlea humeri
Trochlear notch of the ulna
incisura trochlearis ulnae
Collateral ulnar ligament
lig. collaterale ulnare
Collateral radial ligament
lig. collaterale radiale
Anular ligament of the radius
lig. anulare radii
Capitulum of the humerus
capitulum humeri
Articular circumference of the radius
circumferentia articularis radii
Radial notch of the ulna
incisura radialis ulnae
Distal radio-ulnar joint
art. radioulnaris distalis
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