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Synonym: articulation
German: Gelenk, Artikulatio

1 Definition

A joint is a movable connection between two or more bones or cartilaginous skeletal elements.

The study of joints is called Arthrology.

2 Classification

2.1 ...according to joint type

The joints of the human body can be subdivided into "true" (discontinuous) and "false" (continuous) joints.

2.1.1 True joints (Diarthrosis, synovial joints)

True joints or Diathrosis have a discontinuity (interruption) between the bones that surround the joint. This space is known as joint space. It separates the articular surfaces, which are covered by articular cartilage. From the outside, the joint is surrounded by a tight joint capsule. It may have reinforcements at some places that are called articular or capsular ligaments. The joint capsule is made of two layers:

The capsule of the joint defines an all-round enclosed cavity, the joint cavity, which is filled with a viscous fluid (synovia).

Examples of true joints are:

and several others.

Often joints have accessory structures, which assist them in their functions.

A special form of the true joints are the amphiarthrosis. These are true joints that have, however, a heavily limited mobility.

2.1.2 False joints (Synarthrosis)

False joints are continuous cartilage or connective tissue bone connections. They do not have any discontinuity (gaps) between them and therefore possess limited mobility. However, they are of high importance as growth zones for the body. These include:

At the end of the growth process, the cartilage or connective tissue of “false” joints mature into complete bones. This is known as Synostosis

2.1.3 Pathological joints (pseudarthroses)

Pseudarthroses are a special form. They are no joints in the proper sense, but more or less mobile, pathological interruptions of the normal bone structure, which can occur in cases of insufficiently healing fractures.

2.2 ...according to joint structure or -mobility

According to the structure of the articular surface of the joints, true joints can be subdivided into:

2.3 ...according to composition

2.4 ...according to the degree of freedom

  • Monoaxial joints (e.g. hinge joint)
  • Diaxial joints (e.g. ellipsoid joint, saddle joint)
  • Multiaxial joints (e.g. ball-and socket joint)

2.5 ...according to the biomechanics

3 Clinical notes

Joints are exposed to highly biomechanical stress and are thus often involved in skeletal injuries. Traumatic and non-traumatic damage to joints are normally expressed through joint pains ("Arthralgia") at rest or under stress as well as through swelling of the joints.

The inflammation of a joint is called arthritis. A degenerative, primarily non-inflammatory alteration is called osteoarthrosis.

Specialties: Anatomy

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