In the article Elbow Joints Anatomy: Elbow Joints and Their Movements you will get detailed information about elbow joints and their movements. This article includes:

Introduction to Elbow Joints

The Article elbow joints anatomy: elbow joints and their movements explores the intricate anatomy of elbow joints and discovers the range of movements that enable precise arm function. The elbow joint is a complex hinge joint. It allows for the → bending and extension of the arm, and also the rotation of the forearm. It plays a vital role in various activities such as lifting, throwing, and performing daily tasks.

 Elbow Joint
Elbow joint with Parts

In the upcoming section, we will talk about the anatomy of elbow joints, which includes → bones, tendons, ligaments, innervation, and blood supply.

Anatomy of Elbow Joints

Anatomy of Elbow Joints
Anatomy of Elbow Joints with complex Structure

The elbow joint is a complex structure that enables → the flexion, extension, and rotation of the forearm. Composed of → multiple bones, ligaments, and tendons, and supported by a network of blood vessels and nerves. Understanding the anatomy of the elbow joint is crucial in comprehending its function and associated injuries. Some components of elbow joints that form its anatomy:

Bones of the Elbow

It is a joint formed by the articulation of three bones. Let’s explore each of these bones:

  1. Radius: It is one of the two forearm bones. It extends from the elbow to the wrist on the thumb side. It is located on the lateral (outer) aspect of the forearm and plays a significant role in forearm rotation.
  2. Ulna: The ulna is the other forearm bone, situated on the medial (inner) side of the forearm. It runs parallel to the radius and forms the major bony part of the elbow, known as the olecranon process.
  3. Humerus: The humerus is the upper arm bone that extends from the shoulder to the elbow. Its distal end articulates with the radius and ulna, forming the elbow joint.


They are strong fibrous bands that → connect bones, providing stability and limiting excessive joint movement. Ligaments in the elbow joint are:

1. Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL)

It is located on the medial aspect of the elbow joint. And it consists of three bands → anterior, posterior, and transverse. It connects the humerus to the ulna, preventing excessive side-to-side movement of the joint.

2. Radial Collateral Ligament (RCL)

The RCL is situated on the lateral aspect of the elbow and attaches the humerus to the radius. It provides stability and prevents excessive side-to-side movement, particularly during varus stress (force pushing the joint inward).

3. Annular Ligament

The annular ligament surrounds the head of the radius, holding it firmly in place within the radial range of the ulna. It allows the radius to rotate during forearm movements.

4. Quadrate Ligament

The quadrate ligament is a small ligament located within the elbow joint. It helps stabilize the radial head against the ulna.


Tendons are strong, fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones, enabling the transmission of force for movement. The tendons are:

  1. Biceps Tendon: The biceps tendon attaches the biceps muscle to the radius bone in the forearm. It assists in forearm flexion and supination (palm-up rotation).
  1. Triceps Tendon: The triceps tendon connects the triceps muscle to the olecranon process (explained above in the bones section) of the ulna. It plays a vital role in forearm extension.
  1. Brachioradialis Tendon: The brachioradialis muscle’s tendon attaches to the radius bone, contributing to forearm flexion and stabilization during various arm movements.
  1. Common Flexor Tendon: The common flexor tendon is a thick tendon that attaches several forearm muscles to the medial epicondyle (bony part located on the inner side) of the humerus. It controls wrist and finger flexion.

Blood Supply

The elbow joint receives its blood supply from various arteries, ensuring adequate oxygenation and nutrient delivery to the joint and surrounding structures. Arteries that conduct blood in the elbow joints are:

1. Brachial Artery

The brachial artery is the main arterial supply to the upper arm and divides into the radial and ulnar arteries near the elbow joint.

2. Radial Artery

The radial artery runs along the radial (lateral) aspect of the forearm and supplies blood to the lateral structures of the elbow joint.

3. Ulnar Artery

The ulnar artery runs along the ulnar (medial) aspect of the forearm and supplies blood to the medial (inner) structures of the elbow joint.

4. Radial Recurrent Artery

The radial recurrent artery is a branch of the radial artery that supplies blood to the lateral aspect of the elbow joint.

5. Ulnar Collateral Arteries

The ulnar collateral arteries are small branches that supply blood to the medial aspect of the elbow joint, supporting the UCL.


Nerves play a vital role in transmitting signals between the brain and the muscles, enabling movement and sensation. The elbow joint receives its innervation from several nerves, including:

  1. Musculocutaneous Nerve: The musculocutaneous nerve supplies the muscles in the anterior compartment of the arm, contributing to elbow flexion.
  1. Radial Nerve: The radial nerve supplies the muscles in the posterior compartment of the arm and forearm, controlling the extension of the elbow and wrist.
  1. Median Nerve: The median nerve innervates muscles in the anterior compartment of the forearm, controlling wrist flexion and finger movements.
  1. Ulnar Nerve: The ulnar nerve provides motor innervation to the muscles in the forearm and hand, controlling certain wrist movements and finger actions.

In the next part, we will talk about the movements that are shown by the elbow joints, which include → Flexion, supination, and vice versa.

Elbow Joint Movements

The elbow joint is a hinge joint. It connects the upper arm bone (humerus) with the two forearm bones (radius and ulna). It allows for a wide range of movements, facilitating various activities like reaching, lifting, and throwing. The movements shown by the elbow joints are:


Flexion is a bending movement that decreases the angle between the forearm and the upper arm. When you bring your hand closer to your shoulder, you are performing flexion at the elbow joint. This movement primarily involves the biceps brachii muscle located at the front of the upper arm. Flexion allows us to perform activities like lifting objects towards our bodies, bringing food to our mouths, or performing bicep curls during workouts.


The extension is the opposite of flexion and involves straightening the elbow joint, increasing the angle between the forearm and the upper arm. It is primarily facilitated by the triceps brachii muscle located at the back of the upper arm. When you push an object away from your body or perform a triceps dip exercise, you are executing extension at the elbow joint. The extension is crucial for pushing, throwing, or performing a backhand stroke in sports like tennis.


Pronation refers to the rotation of the forearm and hand, causing the palm to face downward. This movement occurs when the radius bone crosses over the ulna bone, resulting in the inward rotation of the forearm. Pronation is achieved through the coordinated action of muscles such as pronator teres and pronator quadratus. Everyday activities like turning a doorknob or using a screwdriver require pronation of the forearm.


Supination is the opposite of pronation and involves the rotation of the forearm and hand, causing the palm to face upward or forward. It occurs when the radius and ulna bones are parallel, allowing the forearm to rotate externally. The supinator muscle and biceps brachii muscle plays an important role in this movement. Supination is essential for actions like pouring liquid, holding a cup, or throwing a frisbee with a palm-up position.

In the upcoming part, we will discuss the muscles involved in the formation of elbow joints, which include → Biceps Brachii, Triceps Brachii, and vice versa.

Muscles involved in the Elbow Joint

 elbow joint in different views
Elbow joint in lateral and medial view

The elbow joint is a crucial hinge joint that allows for flexion and extension of the forearm. It consists of several muscles working in harmony to provide strength and stability to the joint. The muscles are:

Biceps Brachii

A two-headed muscle is situated on the anterior side of the upper arm. It originates from two points on the scapula and inserts into the radius bone in the forearm. The primary functions of the biceps brachii include elbow flexion and forearm supination (rotating the palm upward). Additionally, it assists in shoulder flexion and abduction. The biceps brachii is particularly important for lifting objects, performing bicep curls, and throwing motions.


Situated deep to the biceps brachii, the brachialis muscle is the primary flexor of the elbow joint. It lies underneath the biceps brachii, originating from the distal half of the anterior surface of the humerus. The brachialis inserts on the coronoid process of the ulna, playing a crucial role in elbow flexion. Due to its anatomical location and direct attachment to the ulna, the brachialis provides significant stability to the elbow joint.


A long muscle that starts from the distal end of the humerus to the radius bone in the forearm. It is located on the lateral side of the forearm, close to the thumb. The brachioradialis plays a vital role in elbow flexion, especially when the forearm is in a mid-prone position (midway between supination and pronation). It is particularly active during activities such as → hammering, gripping, and pronation/supination of the forearm.

Triceps Brachii

 A large muscle is located at the back of the upper arm. It is the primary extensor of the elbow joint, opposing the flexion provided by the biceps brachii and brachialis. The triceps brachii consists of three heads: the long head, lateral head, and medial head. The long head originates from the infra glenoid tubercle (a bony part located below the glenoid fossa of the scapula)of the scapula, while the lateral and medial heads originate from the posterior humerus. The tendons of the triceps brachii join together to form a common tendon, which attaches to the olecranon process (important bony projection) of the ulna. This powerful muscle is crucial for activities involving elbow extension, such as pushing, throwing, and performing triceps dips.

In the next section, we will learn about joint injuries, which create a bigger issue than imagined. So, let’s talk about it.

Common Elbow Joint Injuries

The elbow joint is a complex structure that enables various arm movements, but it is also susceptible to injuries. Though, we have discussed almost everything about the elbow joints. So, the only thing we are left to learn is how to prevent the elbow joints. The following are the injuries: 

tennis elbow condition
Tennis elbow condition

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a condition characterized by the inflammation or degeneration of the tendons on the outer side of the elbow. Despite its name, this injury is not limited to tennis players and can affect individuals involved in various activities. Key points to cover:

Causes and Risk Factors

  • Repetitive motion involving the wrist and forearm, such as tennis, painting, or typing.
  • Poor technique or improper equipment use.
  • Age, as the risk increases with age.


  • Pain and tenderness on the outer side of the elbow.
  • Weak grip strength.
  • Pain during activities involving wrist extension or gripping.

Diagnosis and Treatment

  • Physical examination and medical history assessment.
  • Imaging tests may be used TO rule out other conditions.
  • Treatment options include rest, physical therapy, pain medication, and in severe cases, corticosteroid injections or surgery.

Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)

Showing golfer's elbow condition
Medial epicondyle

It is a condition characterized by inflammation of the tendons on the inside of the elbow. Contrary to its name, this injury can affect not only golfers but also individuals who engage in activities involving repetitive wrist flexion and forearm rotation.


Activities such as → golfing, pitching, swinging a racket, or repetitive gripping tasks can strain the flexor tendons, leading to inflammation and pain.


  • Pain or tenderness on the inside of the elbow
  • Weakness in the wrist and hand
  • Pain worsens when flexing or twisting the wrist
  • Difficulty in grasping objects or making a first

Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

The diagnosis, treatment, and preventive measures for Golfer’s Elbow are similar to those for Tennis Elbow. Medical professionals may perform a physical examination, prescribe conservative treatments, and recommend preventive strategies to manage and avoid further injury.

Elbow Sprains and Strains

Elbow sprains and strains involve damage to the ligaments, muscles, or tendons around the elbow joint. They can occur due to sudden trauma, repetitive strain, or overuse. Key points to cover:

Causes and Risk Factors

  • Falls, direct impact, or twisting motions.
  • Repetitive activities that strain the elbow joint.
  • Participation in sports like basketball, gymnastics, or weightlifting.


  • The major symptoms are → Pain, swelling, and tenderness around the elbow joint.
  • Restricted range of motion.
  • Instability or feeling of “giving way” during movement.

Diagnosis and Treatment

  • Physical examination, including a range of motion and stability tests.
  • Imaging tests may be required in severe cases.
  • Treatment options include rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE), immobilization, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery for severe injuries.


  • Proper warm-up and stretching exercises.
  • Using appropriate protective gear in high-risk activities.
  • Gradually increasing intensity and duration of exercise.


In conclusion, the article elbow joints anatomy: elbow joints and their movements helps in understanding the anatomy and movements of elbow joints is essential for optimal arm function and performance. the elbow joint is a hinge joint. It allows for the → flexion, extension, pronation, and supination of the forearm. It is formed by the articulation of the → humerus, radius, and ulna bones. And it is supported by → ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves.

The ligaments are → ulnar collateral ligament, radial collateral ligament, annular ligament, and quadrate ligament, which provide stability to the elbow joint. Tendons like → biceps tendon, triceps tendon, brachioradialis tendon, and common flexor tendon, connect muscles to bones and enable movement.

The blood supply to the elbow joint is provided by arteries like the brachial artery, radial artery, ulnar artery, radial recurrent artery, and ulnar collateral arteries. The innervation of the elbow joint is carried out by nerves like the musculocutaneous, radial, median, and ulnar nerves.

The elbow joint movements include → flexion, extension, pronation, and supination, which are facilitated by various muscles. The muscles are → biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis, and triceps brachii.

Common injuries include → tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis), and elbow sprains and strains. These injuries can cause pain, weakness, and restricted movement. Proper diagnosis, treatment, and preventive measures are important in managing and avoiding further injury. Understanding the anatomy, movements, and common injuries of the elbow joint can help individuals maintain their health, prevent injuries, and seek appropriate medical care when needed.

Further Reading

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  1. Images used in this article are Designed by Freepik:
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Categories: Anatomy


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