Biomechanics of the Distal Radioulnar Joint

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The distal radioulnar joint is an intricate part of wrist function. The radius and hand move in relation to, and function about, the distal ulna. Significant loads are transmitted to the forearm unit through the distal ulna via the triangular fibrocartilage. The anatomic relations between the distal radius and ulna and the ulnar carpus are precise, and even minor modifications in these relations leads to significant load-pattern changes. The authors can only speculate on the clinical ramifications of such load-pattern modifications. Since M. DeSault's dissertation on dislocation of the distal radius, published in 1791, much has been written on injuries to, and afflictions of, the radiocarpal area. Although injuries and afflictions in this area undoubtedly have not changed throughout the years, an increasing variety of ulnar wrist syndromes and treatment programs are being recognized. This phenomenon attests not only to the need for continuous investigations of wrist problems but also to the great excitement that presently exists in the field. Better understanding of the anatomy and newer knowledge of the biomechanics of the distal radioulnar joint should herald an ulnar wrist renaissance.

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