March 9, 2008


Filed under: — Peter Laws @ 2:28 am


A joint, or articulation, is the place where two bones come together. There are three types of joints classified by the amount of movement they allow: immovable, slightly movable, and freely movable.

Immovable joints are synarthroses. In this type of joint, the bones are in very close contact and are separated only by a thin layer of fibrous connective tissue. An example of a synarthrosis is the suture in the skull between skull bones.

Slightly movable joints are called amphiarthroses. This type of joint is characterized by bones that are connected by hyaline cartilage (fibro cartilage). The ribs that connect to the sternum are an example of an amphiarthrosis joint.

Most of the joints in the adult human body are freely movable joints. This type of joint is called a diarthrosis joint. There are six types of diarthroses joints. These are:

  • Ball-and-Socket: The ball-shaped end of one bone fits into a cup shaped socket on the other bone allowing the widest range of motion including rotation. Examples include the shoulder and hip.
  • Condyloid: Oval shaped condyle fits into elliptical cavity of another allowing angular motion but not rotation. This occurs between the metacarpals (bones in the palm of the hand) and phalanges (fingers) and between the metatarsals (foot bones excluding heel) and phalanges (toes).
  • Saddle: This type of joint occurs when the touching surfaces of two bones have both concave and convex regions with the shapes of the two bones complementing one other and allowing a wide range of movement. The only saddle joint in the body is in the thumb.
  • Pivot: Rounded or conical surfaces of one bone fit into a ring of one or tendon allowing rotation. An example is the joint between the axis and atlas in the neck.
  • Hinge: A convex projection on one bone fits into a concave depression in another permitting only flexion and extension as in the elbow and knee joints.
  • Gliding: Flat or slightly flat surfaces move against each other allowing sliding or twisting without any circular movement. This happens in the carpals in the wrist and the tarsals in the ankle.
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