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Ligaments of the wrist and hand

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Identify the main joints of the wrist and hand.
  2. Name and locate the ligaments that support those joints.

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Ligaments participate in the stabilization of joints, but can also limit certain movements based on their position around the joint.

The wrist and hand feature several joints. Proximal to distal, the first one is the radiocarpal (wrist) joint which connects the forearm and the hand. The rest of the joints are in the hand, connecting groups of bones to each other (e.g. carpal and metacarpal), as well as individual bones amongst themselves (e.g. scaphoid and lunate). Namely, these joints are: intercarpal, carpometacarpal, intermetacarpal, metacarpophalangeal and interphalangeal joints.

The proper function of the ligaments is crucial for the normal mobility and function of the wrist and hand. This study unit will help you learn the anatomy and function of the ligaments of the wrist and hand.

Check out the video below to find out more about the many many ligaments of the wrist and hand!

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Browse atlas

Take a closer look at each individual ligament of the wrist and hand in the galleries below!


Key points about the ligaments and supporting structures of the wrist and hand
Distal radioulnar joint Palmar radioulnar ligament
Dorsal radioulnar ligament
Radiocarpal (wrist) joint Palmar radiocarpal ligament (radioscaphocapitate ligament, short and long radiolunate ligaments, radioscapholunate ligament)
Palmar ulnocarpal ligament
(ulnocapitate, ulnolunate, ulnotriquetral, ulnopisiform ligaments)
Dorsal radiocarpal ligament
Triangular fibrocartilage complex
(palmar ulnocarpal ligaments, palmar radioulnar ligament, articular disc, ulnomeniscal homologue, tendon sheath of extensor carpi ulnaris muscle)
Collateral ligaments of wrist
(radial/ulnar collateral ligaments of wrist joint)
Intercarpal joints Fascial bands:
Flexor retinaculum of wrist
Extensor retinaculum of wrist

Palmar ligaments
Palmar intercarpal ligaments: Radiate carpal ligament (scaphocapitate, triquetrocapitate, palmar capitohamate, palmar trapezoideocapitate, trapezocapitate ligaments), palmar scaphotriquetral, palmar lunotriquetral, palmar triquetrohamate, pisotriquetral and pisohamate ligaments

Dorsal ligaments
Dorsal intercarpal ligaments

Interosseous ligaments
Intercarpal interosseous ligaments: Scapholunate interosseous ligament, lunotriquetral interosseous ligament, trapeziotrapezoidal interosseous ligament, trapezoideocapitate interosseous ligament, capitohamate interosseous ligament
Carpometacarpal joints Dorsal carpometacarpal ligaments
Palmar carpometacarpal ligaments
Intermetacarpal joints Palmar metacarpal ligaments
Dorsal metacarpal ligaments
Interosseous metacarpal ligaments
Metacarpophalangeal joints Proper collateral metacarpophalangeal ligaments
Accessory collateral metacarpophalangeal ligaments
Phalangoglenoid ligaments
Palmar metacarpophalangeal ligaments
Deep transverse ligament
Interphalangeal joints Palmar interphalangeal ligaments
Proper collateral interphalangeal ligaments
Accessory collateral interphalangeal ligaments
Annular ligaments
Cruciform ligaments

Well done!

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