Anatomy and Biomechanics of the Elbow Joint

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The elbow joint is a complex structure that provides an important function as the mechanical link in the upper extremity between the hand, wrist and the shoulder. The elbow's functions include positioning the hand in space for fine movements, powerful grasping and serving as a fulcrum for the forearm. Loss of elbow function can severely affect activities of daily living. It is important to recognize the unique anatomy of the elbow, including the bony geometry, articulation, and soft tissue structures. The biomechanics of the elbow joint can be divided into kinematics, stabilizing structures in elbow stability, and force transmission through the elbow joint. The passive and active stabilizers provide biomechanical stability in the elbow joint. The passive stabilizers include the bony articular geometry and the soft tissue stabilizers. The active stabilizers are the muscles that provide joint compressive forces and function. Knowledge of both the anatomy and biomechanics is essential for proper treatment of elbow disorders.

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