© Cambridge Fracture Clinic - Mr Lee Van Rensburg - Cambridge; United Kingdom
Cambridge Elbow

Elbow Anatomy

To understand the anatomy of the elbow it is important to understand a few medical terms

Flexion - Bending your elbow, as in bringing your hand to your mouth

Extension - Straightening your elbow

Supination - Twisting your forearm and hand so your palm faces the ceiling (asking for change)

Pronation - Twisting your forearm and hand so the back of your hand faces the ceiling

Lateral - Outside of your arm/ elbow (furthest from the midline of the body)

Medial - Inside of your arm/ elbow (nearest the midline of the body)

The elbow is more than a hinge joint, allowing for bending the arm/ elbow, flexion and extension. It also allows for rotation of the forearm wrist and

hand, supination and pronation. It is made up of:

Muscles and tendons

Ligaments

Bones

Nerves

Blood vessels

Muscles and tendons

Tendons connect muscles to bone and transfer all the force generated by the muscles. All the muscles that extend your wrist and fingers attach to a

small bony area on the outer side (lateral side) of your elbow, otherwise called the common extensor origin. It is pain here that is called tennis elbow

(lateral epicondylitis).

 All the muscles that flex your wrist and fingers attach to a small area of bone the medial epicondyle on the inner side of your elbow. It is pain here

that suggests golfers elbow (medial epicondylitis).

Several muscles work to flex the elbow, most people think the biceps muscle is the main flexor of the elbow, in fact Brachialis a muscle beneath

biceps is the main elbow flexor. Biceps is very important for supination (asking for change).

Triceps is the main muscle straightening the elbow (extension).

 Ligaments

Ligaments connect bones to bones, they help stabilise the elbow, stopping it from dislocating. There are essentially three ligament complexes around

the elbow.

Medial collateral ligaments

Lateral collateral ligaments

Annular ligament

Bones

 The elbow joint is made up 3 bones:

Humerus

Radius (Radial head)

Ulna (Olecranon)

The bone making up your upper arm is the humerus, the humerus connects to the forearm bones at the elbow joint. The forearm contains two

bones, the radius and the ulna.

The radius runs from the outer side of your elbow down the thumb side of your forearm. The ulna is on the inner side.

 The elbow joint has essentially two joints within it - one a hinge joint that allows bending and straightening of the elbow, the other allows for rotation

or twisting. It allows the forearm to twist (pronate and supinate) so you can show the back of your hand and twist your forearm to ask for change. 

The place where the ulna joins the humerus is called the ulna humeral joint and this is essentially the hinge joint that allow for bending and

straightening of the arm.

The radius ends in the radial head at the elbow, it joins onto the humerus at the elbow. The small part of the joint on the humerus side where the

radius attaches to it is called the capitellum and as such this half of the elbow joint is called the radiocapitellar joint. The radiocapitellar joint allows

for rotation of the forearm, wrist and hand (pronation and supination).

 In the elbow joint the ends of the bones are covered in articular cartilage, this is a very smooth slick material that allows the joint surfaces to slide

over each other.

Subchondral bone is a layer of hard bone that lies below the articular cartilage and supports the joint and anchors the cartilage onto the bone.

Nerves

There are three main nerves that cross the elbow and several small nerves that cross the elbow providing sensation to the skin on the forearm.

 The three main nerves are:

Ulna nerve

Median nerve

Radial nerve (the PIN, posterior interosseous nerve is a branch)

Blood vessels

The main vessel above the elbow is the brachial artery just below the elbow it divides into two the ulnar and the radial artery.
© Advanced Nerve Blocks

Elbow Anatomy

To understand the anatomy of the elbow it is important to understand a

few medical terms

Flexion - Bending your elbow,

as in bringing your hand to

your mouth

Extension - Straightening

your elbow

Supination - Twisting your

forearm and hand so your

palm faces the ceiling (asking

for change)

Pronation - Twisting your

forearm and hand so the

back of your hand faces the

ceiling

Lateral - Outside of your arm/ elbow (furthest from the midline of

the body)

Medial - Inside of your arm/ elbow (nearest the midline of the

body)

The elbow is more than a hinge joint, allowing for bending the arm/

elbow, flexion and extension. It also allows for rotation of the forearm

wrist and hand, supination and pronation. It is made up of:

Muscles and tendons

Ligaments

Bones

Nerves

Blood vessels

Muscles and tendons

Tendons connect muscles to bone and transfer all the force generated

by the muscles. All the muscles that extend your wrist and fingers attach

to a small bony area on the outer side (lateral side) of your elbow,

otherwise called the common extensor origin. It is pain here that is

called tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis).

 All the muscles that flex your wrist and fingers attach to a small area of

bone the medial epicondyle on the inner side of your elbow. It is pain

here that suggests golfers elbow (medial epicondylitis).

Several muscles work to flex the elbow, most people think the biceps

muscle is the main flexor of the elbow, in fact Brachialis a muscle

beneath biceps is the main elbow flexor. Biceps is very important for

supination (asking for change).

Triceps is the main muscle straightening the elbow (extension).

 Ligaments

Ligaments connect bones to bones, they help stabilise the elbow,

stopping it from dislocating. There are essentially three ligament

complexes around the elbow.

Medial collateral ligaments

Lateral collateral ligaments

Annular ligament

Bones

 The elbow joint is made up 3 bones:

Humerus

Radius (Radial head)

Ulna (Olecranon)

The bone making up your upper arm is the humerus, the humerus

connects to the forearm bones at the elbow joint. The forearm contains

two bones, the radius and the ulna.

The radius runs from the outer side of your elbow down the thumb side

of your forearm. The ulna is on the inner side.

 The elbow joint has essentially two joints within it - one a hinge joint

that allows bending and straightening of the elbow, the other allows for

rotation or twisting. It allows the forearm to twist (pronate and supinate)

so you can show the back of your hand and twist your forearm to ask for

change. 

The place where the ulna joins the humerus is called the ulna humeral

joint and this is essentially the hinge joint that allow for bending and

straightening of the arm.

The radius ends in the radial head at the elbow, it joins onto the

humerus at the elbow. The small part of the joint on the humerus side

where the radius attaches to it is called the capitellum and as such this

half of the elbow joint is called the radiocapitellar joint. The

radiocapitellar joint allows for rotation of the forearm, wrist and hand

(pronation and supination).

 In the elbow joint the ends of the bones are covered in articular

cartilage, this is a very smooth slick material that allows the joint

surfaces to slide over each other.

Subchondral bone is a layer of hard bone that lies below the articular

cartilage and supports the joint and anchors the cartilage onto the bone.

Nerves

There are three main nerves that cross the elbow and several small

nerves that cross the elbow providing sensation to the skin on the

forearm.

 The three main nerves are:

Ulna nerve

Median nerve

Radial nerve (the PIN, posterior interosseous nerve is a branch)

Blood vessels

The main vessel above the elbow is the brachial artery just below the elbow it divides into two the ulnar and the radial artery.
Cambridge Fracture Clinic