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Anterior compartment of the forearm

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Identify the individual muscles of the anterior compartment of the forearm. 
  2. Name the attachments and innervation of these muscles.
  3. Understand the function of each muscle.

Watch video

The forearm is divided into anterior and posterior compartments. The muscles of the anterior compartment, also known as the flexor-pronator muscles, are divided into two parts:

  • Superficial part: Pronator teres, flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, palmaris longus and flexor digitorum superficialis muscles.
  • Deep part: Flexor digitorum profundus, flexor pollicis longus and pronator quadratus muscles.

These muscles act on different joints of the upper limb, enabling movements of the forearm, hand and fingers. Most of the anterior muscles are innervated by branches of the median nerve. The exceptions are the flexor carpi ulnaris, which is supplied by the ulnar nerve, and the flexor digitorum profundus, which is innervated by branches of both median and ulnar nerves.

The following video tutorials will help you learn the anatomy of the anterior muscles of the forearm.

Take a quiz

Now that you have watched the video about the anterior muscles of the forearm, test your knowledge by taking our quiz.

Or check out this fully customizable quiz for a broader overview of the elbow and the forearm region:

Browse atlas

Review each anterior muscle of the forearm individually by browsing through our atlas gallery:


Key facts about the anterior compartment muscles of the forearm
Superficial part Pronator teres muscle
Flexor carpi radialis muscle
Flexor carpi ulnaris muscle
Palmaris longus muscle
Flexor digitorum superficialis muscle
Deep part Flexor digitorum profundus muscle
Flexor pollicis longus muscle
Pronator quadratus muscle
Innervation Median nerve (except for flexor carpi ulnaris and the ulnar half of flexor digitorum profundus which are supplied by the ulnar nerve)
Function Movements (flexion, abduction, adduction, pronation) of the forearm, hand and fingers

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