The elbow is a composite joint that connects the upper and lower arms. More about the structure and possible problems, read here!


Of the elbow is the joint that connects the humerus with the two forearm bones, ulna and radius. In this joint, we can bend and stretch, twist and turn the forearm. Read everything important about the structure and function of the elbow and common health problems in the area of ​​this joint!

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  • What is the elbow?

  • What is the function of the elbow?

  • Where is the elbow?

  • What problems can the elbow cause?

What is the elbow?

The elbow is a composite joint involving three bones - the humerus and the two forearm bones radius and ulna. More specifically, there are three partial joints with a common joint cavity and a single joint capsule, which form a functional unit:

  • Articulatio humeroulnaris (joint between humerus and ulna)
  • Articulatio humeroradialis (joint between humerus and spine)
  • Articulatio radioulnaris proximalis (joint between ulna and radius)

The elbow joint is held by sidebands inside and outside.

On the flexor side of the joint, the most important nerves and also blood vessels run - when taking blood, the doctor sticks in a vein in the elbow.

What is the function of the elbow?

The elbow allows flexion and extension of the forearm against the upper arm. Furthermore, by turning in the joint, the hand can be turned outwards (palm up) or inwards (palm down). In the first movement (supination), the two bones radius and ulna are parallel to each other, in the second movement (pronation) they are crossed. The hinge joint between the upper arm and the Elle, in conjunction with the other two joints, enables a wheel movement - the rotation of the forearm against the upper arm.

Several muscles act on the joint, making the multiple movements possible. Of the two-headed arm muscle (biceps brachii) bows his forearm against the upper arm with his long end tendon, which attaches to the radius in the elbow pit. The tendon is wrapped in the pronation position of the hand around the radius and turns the hand, when the muscle is tense and the tendon unwinds from the radius, in the supination position.

Of the Arm bowler (Brachialis), which lies below the biceps, also bends in the elbow joint.

Of the Upper arm spokes muscle (brachioradialis) is an important arm bender that is especially used when lifting and carrying heavy loads.

Of the Armstringer (Triceps brachii) is the only extensor muscle on the elbow. Since the three flexor muscles at rest have a stronger tone than the extensor muscle, the forearm, if we let it hang loose, always in a slight flexion.

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Where is the elbow?

The elbow is the articulated connection between the humerus and the two forearm bones.

What problems can the elbow cause?

A fracture of the elbow usually happens in a fall on the outstretched hand. The fracture line can run at different points in the area of ​​the joint, that is: The term elbow fracture includes all fractures of the upper arm, the ulna or radius near the elbow joint. These include, for example, the olecranon fracture (fracture of the ellenbogenseitigen end of the ulna).

The elbow joint can also stretch. This dislocation usually occurs in the Humeroulnargelenk, ie in the partial joint between humerus and ulna. The cause is usually a fall on the outstretched or slightly bent arm.

Like other joints, the elbow can be affected by signs of wear and tear (arthrosis) and subsequently painful during movement.

An articular bursa may become painfully inflamed (bursitis olecrani). Sometimes bacteria are the cause. In other cases, it is an abacterial inflammation, as it can occur for example in the context of rheumatoid arthritis or gout. Also chronic pressure load by frequent Aufstützen on the elbow ("Student Elbow") may be the trigger for an abacterial bursitis.

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