What is the anatomy of my elbow?

The elbow joint is classified as a synovial hinge joint that is formed by three bones: The humerous bone (bone of the upper arm), the radius (the bone on the thumb side of the forearm) and the ulna (the longer of the two forearm bones, located medially from the radius).

The elbow joint is essentially made up of three smaller joints. The humeroulnar joint (formed by the humerous and ulna bones) functions like a door hinge, with the olecranon (pointy part of elbow) acting as the stopper. The humeroradial joint (formed by the humerous and radius) functions more like a ball and socket. There is also a pivot joint between the radius and ulna, called the proximal radioulnar joint (there is also a distal radioulnar joint in the wrist). This joint allows the radius bone to rotate over the ulnar bone when you change palm position.

The elbow joint is stabilized by the radial and ulnar collateral ligaments as well as the anular ligament. There is articular cartilage within the elbow joint to protect the bones from one another during movement. This joint is also an anchor point for both the triceps brachii and biceps brachii tendons which cause extension and flexion respectively. Blood to the elbow joint is supplied by branches of the brachial, radial and ulnar arteries.

Although the elbow joint is strong due to its structure and one-axis range of motion, it is susceptible to fractures and dislocations caused by blunt force. 

Picture of Elbow prosthesis

Continue Learning about Functions of Joints

Functions of Joints

Functions of Joints

Joints connect bones within your body, bear weight and enable you to move. They are made up of bone, muscles, synovial fluid, cartilage and ligaments. Joints aren't all alike, however. Hinge joints are found in your elbows and kne...

es, while ball-and-socket joints are needed for the hips and shoulders. Different joints provide unique points of stability and mobility. Understanding the functions of your joints and how your lifestyle and overall health affect them can help if you develop conditions like arthritis, osteoarthritis or gout.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.