Hand, Wrist & Elbow

Anatomy and Function of the Hand, Wrist and Elbow

The anatomy of the hand is complex, intricate, and fascinating. Its integrity is absolutely essential for our everyday functional living. Our hands may be affected by many disorders, most commonly traumatic injury. For any physician or therapist treating hand problems, the mastery of such anatomy is fundamental in order to provide the best quality of care. A total of 27 bones constitute the basic skeleton of the wrist and hand. The entire hand is dependent upon the median, ulnar and radial nerves. The wrist is a complex joint that bridges the hand to the forearm. It is actually a collection of multiple bones and joints. The bones comprising the wrist include the ends of the radius and ulna, 8 carpal bones, and the proximal portions of the 5 metacarpal bones. All of these bones participate in complex articulations that allow variable mobility of the hand. Relative to the forearm, the hand is capable of 3 degrees of freedom: (1) flexing and extending, (2) pronating and supinating, and (3) deviating ulnarly or radially. In order to maintain mobility without sacrificing stability, the wrist joint has a complex configuration of ligaments.