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Costochondral joint (junction): want to learn more about it?

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Costochondral joint (junction)

The costochondral joints are joints of the thoracic wall that connect the sternal ends of the ribs and their respective costal cartilages. They are structurally classified as primary cartilaginous joints (synchondrosis) in which bones are joined by hyaline cartilage.

There are ten pairs of costochondral joints between ribs 1-10 and their respective costal cartilages. These joints are immobile and are therefore functionally classified as synarthroses.

Key facts about the costochondral joint
Type Primary hyaline cartilaginous joint (synchondrosis); synarthrosis
Articular surfaces Sternal (medial) end of rib, lateral end of costal cartilage 
Ligaments None
Innervation Intercostal nerves
Blood supply Intercostal artery
Movements None

This article will cover the anatomy and function of the costochondral joints.

Articular surfaces

The costochondral joint is a connection between a rib and its costal cartilage.

On the thoracic wall, it occurs where the bone ends and cartilage begins.

The joint is formed by two articular surfaces; the roughened cup-shaped anterior end of the rib and the rounded lateral end of the costal cartilage.

Joint capsule and ligaments

These joints have no joint capsule, cavity or ligaments. The periosteum of the rib is continuous  the perichondrium of the costal cartilage, binding the bone and cartilage together.

Innervation 

The costochondral joints are supplied by branches of the intercostal nerves, which are the anterior rami of the thoracic spinal nerves.

Blood supply

Arterial supply to the costochondral joints is by branches of the anterior intercostal arteries. Venous drainage of these joints is by the corresponding anterior intercostal veins.

Movements

The costochondral articulations themselves are immobile joints that do not permit movement. However, the costal cartilages provide a flexible attachment for the anterior ends of the ribs to the sternum and may undergo slight bending and twisting movements that facilitate widening of the thoracic diameters during breathing.

Muscles acting at the costochondral joint (junction)

Given the fact that this joint is immobile, no muscles have a direct action on the joint. The costochondral joints, however, provide surfaces of attachment for the anterior muscle fibers and aponeurosis of the intercostal muscles.

Costochondral joint (junction): want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

What do you prefer to learn with?

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

References:

  • McKinley, M. & Loughlin, V. (2012). Human anatomy. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Moore, K. L., Dalley, A. F., & Agur, A. M. R. (2014). Clinically Oriented Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Netter, F. (2019). Atlas of Human Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.
  • Palastanga, N., & Soames, R. (2012). Anatomy and human movement: structure and function (6th ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
  • Standring, S. (2016). Gray's Anatomy (41tst ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.

Illustrations:

  • Costochondral joints (Articulationes costochondrales) - Yousun Koh
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