by Erik Dalton, Ph.D.
Part of what makes us human is the way we are able to use our hands. Effective and skillful hand usage requires stable, painless movement of the elbow joints. Since the elbow bends and straightens much like a door hinge, it is often referred to as a hinge joint. But when the complex interaction of elbow, forearm and wrist is fully understood, it’s easy to see why dysfunctional elbow mechanics is a major contributor to forearm and hand pain.
As you can see in the figure above, the elbows intricate design provides maximum stability while allowing optimum forearm mobility so the hands can accomplish daily tasks. The elbow is actually comprised of three separate bony articulations; the ulnohumeral, radiohumeral and the radioulnar joints. Movement between the ulna and the humerus occurs at the ulnohumeral joint, radius and humerus at the radiohumeral joint and radius and ulna at the radioulnar joint. While ligament and muscle integrity is required to support and move these joints, a loose-fitting capsular “bag” provides necessary fluid production for efficient joint functioning.