Anatomy of The Hand

Joints, their articulating surfaces and Ligaments


  1. Distal Radio-Ulnar Joint
  2. Proximal Wrist Joint (Radiocarpal joint)
  3. Distal Wrist Joint (Intercarpal Joints)
  4. Pisiform Joint
  5. Carpo-Metacarpal Joint of the Thumb
  6. Carpo-Metacarpal Joints II-V
  7. Metacarpo-Phalangeal Joints
  8. Inter-Phalangeal Joints (Proximal (PIP) and Distal (DIP)

All pictures for this section are adapted from the Course Workbook from Nalini Pather (Pather 2016).


1. Distal Radio-Ulnar Joint

Type of Joint   

  • pivot, synovial
  • diarthrosis

Articulating surfaces    

  • Head of Ulna
  • Ulnar Notch of Radius & Articular Disc

Distal Radio-Ulnar Joint

Figure 1: Anterior View on the distal Radio-Ulnar Joint.


  • Pronation and Supination of the Forearm
    • Rotation of the Radius around the Caput Ulnae
      • movement is done by Radius, Ulna is relatively fix
    • always together with the Proximal Radio-Ülnar joint

Joint Capsule and Synovial Membrane

  • loose
  • cranial extension called ‘Sacciform Recess’
  • distal restriction
    •   Articular Disc

Articular Disc

  • also known as the Triangular Ligament
  • binds the Ulna and the Radius together
  • Base: attached to Ulnar Notch of the Radius
  • Appex: attached to the Styloid Process of the Ulna


  •  Anterior and Posterior Ligaments


2. Proximal Wrist Joint (Radiocarpal Joint)

Joint Type

  • synovial
  • condyloid (ellipsoid)
  • diarthroidal

Articulating Surfaces

  • Proximal
    • articular suface of the Radius
    • Articular Disc of the Distal Radio-Ulnar Joint
    • The Ulna does not participate
  • Distal
    • Scaphoid
    • Lunate
    • Triquetrum (the Pisiform Bone is not involved)

Radiocarpal Joint

Figure 2: Anterior View on the Proximal Wrist Joint


  • Flexion > Extension
  • Abduction (raidal deviation) < Adduction (ulnar deviation)
  • Circumduction

=> always in connection with the Distal Wrist Joint

Joint capsule   

  • attached to the proximal and distal cartillage-bone borders
  • tightened by ligaments on the palmar, dorsal, radial and ulnar side


  • Interosseous Ligaments
    • They connect the bones of the proximal carpus


3. Distal Wrist Joint  (Intercarpal Joints)

Type of Joint     

  • Mixture of spheroid and hinge joint

Movements of the Proximal and Distal Wrist Joint    

=> The movements of those two joints are always combined

  • Palmarflexion: 50°-60° (max 85°)
  • Dorsalextension: 35°-60° (max. 80°)
  • Radial Abduction: 20°
  • Ulnar Abduction: 40°

Articulating surfaces         

= proximal and distal carpal bones

  • proximal
    • Os scaphoideus
    • Os lunatum
    • Os triquentrum
  • distal
    • Os trapezium
    • Os trapezoideum
    • Os capitatum
    • Os hamatum

Distal Wrist Joint

Figure 3: Anterior View on the Distal Wrist Joint.

Joint capsule    

  • Attatched to the border of the Carpal Bones and their cartillage


4. Pisiform Joint

Type of Joint     

  • Amphiarthrosis


  • Only some little movements because of amphiarthrosis relatively fix

Articulating surfaces  

  • Os triquentrum
  • Os pisiforme
    • sesamoid bone, integrated into the tendon of M. Flexor Carpi Ulnaris

Pisiform Joint

Figure 4: Anterior View on the Pisiform Joint.


  • distally connected to the neighbouring bones trough
  1. Lig. pisohamatum
  2. Lig. pisometacarpale


5. Carpo-Metacarpal Joint of the Thumb

Type of Joint      

  • Saddle joint


  • Flexion: 40°
  • Extension: 30°
  • Abduction: 40°
  • Adduction: 30°

Articulating surfaces  

  • Os trapezium
  • Os metacarpale I


Figure 5: Anterior View on the Carpo-Metacarpal Joint of the Thumb.

Joint capsule     

  • Joint capsule ligaments palmar and dorsal strenghten the joint


  • Lig. trapeziometacarpale
    • from the basis os metacarpale I
    • to Tuberculum oss. trapezii


6. Carpo-Metacarpal Joints II-V

Type of Joint  

  • Amphiarthrosis


  • Only little movements because its an amphiarthrosis

Articulating surfaces  

  • distal carpal bones
  • Ossa metacarpalia


Figure 6: Anterior View on the Carpo-Metacarpal Joints II-V


  • Huge ligamental stability


7. Metacarpo-Phalangeal Joints

Type of Joint             

  • ball and socket joint
    • Surface of the ball is ca. 50% greater than the one of the socket


  • Flexion: 90°
  • Extension: 0° (some individuums can overextend this joint up to 30°)
  • Abduction: 10°-40°
  • Adduction: 0°

Articulating surfaces         

  • Caput of Os. metacarpale
  • Basis of proximal phalanx


Figure 7: Anterior View on the Metacarpo-Phalangeal Joints.

Joint capsule         

  • attachet to the bone-cartillage boundarys
  • lateral nad palmar thightened trough ligaments


  • Ligg. collateralia
  • Ligg. palmaria


8. Inter-Phalangeal Joints (Proximal (PIP), Distal (DIP))

Type of Joint     

  • hinge joint


  • Flexion
    • PIP: ca. 100°
    • DIP: 40°-60°
  • Extension
    • PIP: 0°
    • DIP: up to 5°

Articulating surfaces    

  • Caput of a phalanx
  • Basis of following phalanx


Figure 8: Anterior View on the PIP Joints (orange) and DIP Joints (blue).

Joint capsule   

  • attached to the bone-cartillage bourndaries


  • Palmar Side
    • Lig. palmare
      •  strenghten the joint capsul with a fibrocartilage plate
    • Ligg. collateralia
      • grown toghether with the joint capsule


Muscles with an Influence on the Hand


  1. Muscles of the Forearm – Anterior Compartment
  2. Muscles of the Forearm – Posterior Compartment
  3. Intrinsic Muscles of the Hand

Only the muscles which have an influence on the wirst joint or/and the Hand are included in the following tables.

The Content of all the Tables shown in the following sections are according to the Course Workbook for the Course ‘Functional Anatomy of the Limbs’ at the University of New South Wales in Sydney (Pather 2016).

1. Muscles of the Forearm – Anterior Compartment

Table 1:

Muscles of the Forearm: Anterior Compartment 

Tabelle 1


2. Muscles of the Forearm – Posterior Compartment

Table 2: 

Muscles of the Forearm: Posterior Compartment

Tabelle 2

3. Intrinsic Muscles of the Hand

Table 3:

Intrinsic Muscles of the Hand

Tabelle 3


All the informations are from the following References:

Dedova, I 2016, ‘Forearm and Wrist 1’. lecture presented to ANAT2451-ANAT3141,  University of New South Wales, Sydney, 14 March 2016.

Pather, N 2016, ‘ANAT3141 Functional Anatomy of the Limbs – Course Workbook’. University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Peter, G, Luis, F, Lutz, S 2016, ‘Bewegungsappartat, Topographische Anatomie, Histologie’, Accessed 27 April 2016, <>.