Joints, also called articulation or articular surface, are the location or connection of two bones that often are dependent on a central structure. This allows the movement of bones in the Skeletal System.

Joints allow movement, support, and structure to Bones and Ligaments.

Joints are mainly classified structurally and functionally.

Structural classification is often determined by how the bones connect to each other.

Functional classification is determined by the degree of movement between the articulating bones.

Often, this means, that there can be an overlap between the two types of classifications.


Numerical Classification

1.)  Monoarticular – concerning one joint

2.)  Oligoarticular or Pauciarticular – concerning 2–4 joints

3.)  Polyarticular – concerning 5 or more joints


From a Structure Viewpoint there are 3 categories:

1.)  Cartilaginous joints – is a joint that is joined by cartilage

2.)  Fibrous joints – this is a joint that is joined by connective tissue – dense, regular, and rich in collagen fibers

3.)  Synovial joints – this is a joint that connects to a synovial cavity. There is dense connective tissue that helps form the capsule. There are often accessory ligaments involved as well.

4.)  Facet joints – this is a joint between two articular processes.  Example: between two vertebrae.


From a functions viewpoint there are 3 categories

1.)  Amphiarthrosis  –  Allows for minimal movement  –  most are cartilaginous joints

2.)  Diarthrosis – A large amount of movement  –  most are synovial joints

3.)  Synarthrosis –  Almost none to no movement  –  most are fibrous joints


Specific Types of Joints:

Suture joints – fibrous joints – found on skull between cranial sutures

Plane joints – synovial joint – ankle, hand – allow bones to glide to side of another bone

Hinge joints – synovial joint – Knee, elbow, fingers, and toes – allow for only bending
and straightening movements

Pivot joints – synovial joint – neck – allow for somewhat limited rotating movement

Ellipsoidial joint – synovial joint – wrist – allow for a more complicated movement – including
ball and socket movement, hinge movement.

Saddle joints – synovial joint – wrist – allow for other complex movements in two planes

Ball and socket joint – synovial joint – hip and shoulders – allow for forward and backward
movement along with sideways and rotating movements


Some Joint Examples:

Axillary Articulations

Articulations of foot

Elbow Joints

Hand Joints

Hip Joints

Knee Joints

Sacroiliac Joints

Sternoclavicular Joints

Temporomandibular Joints

Vertebral Articulations

Wrist Joints


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