Elbow Anatomy

Elbow anatomy includes the elbow joint which is a complex joint and structures surrounding it. This joint is formed by the articulation of three bones namely

  • the lower end of humerus (arm bone)
  • the upper end of radius (forearm bone)
  • the upper end of ulna (forearm bone)

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Due to the involvement of three bones the elbow consists of three joints

  • between humerus and ulna (ulno-humeral)
  • between humerus and radius (radio-humeral)
  • between ulna and radius (radio-ulnar joint)

Part of the ulna that articulates with the humerus includes the olecranon process and the coronoid process. Corresponding part of humerus that articulates with these processes is called trochlea.

The head of the radius articulates with the capitulum of the humerus.

Anatomy of Elbow Joint

Anatomy of Elbow Joint

ligaments of elbow joint

The different movements possible at this joint include

  • Flexion (touch the shoulder with the finger tips of the same side)
  • Extension (straighten your upper limb)
  • Supination (palm facing upwards)
  • Pronation (palm facing downwards)

Flexion and extension occur mainly at the ulno-humeral joint. Supination pronation occurs at the radio-ulnar joint.

elbow supination movement

elbow pronation movement

Main muscles acting across the elbow include

  • biceps brachii (responsible for supination and flexion)
  • brachialis (causes flexion)
  • triceps (causes extension)
  • pronator teres (causes pronation)

Many different important nerves pass close to the elbow joint.

The ulnar nerve passes just behind the medial epicondyle.

The radial nerve passes anterior to the lateral epicondyle. Median nerve and brachial artery pass in front of the elbow.

elbow anatomy nerves arteries

Median nerve, ulnar nerve and brachial artery are at risk of injury in

  • elbow dislocation
  • supracondylar fracture of humerus

I hope the information provided was helpful. If you have any query about elbow anatomy that is not answered here, then you can ask me at the contact me page.

This page was last updated on 11th February 2009.

Causes of elbow pain...

Radial Head Fracture

Pulled Elbow

Olecranon Fracture

Tennis Elbow

Golfers Elbow

Olecranon Bursitis

Little League Elbow

Supracondylar Fracture

Lateral Condyle Fracture

Elbow Dislocation

Elbow Fracture

Go back from Elbow Anatomy to Elbow Pain


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