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The elbow serves as the central link in the kinetic chain of the upper extremity. The management of elbow symptoms requires a thorough appreciation of the intricate anatomy and biomechanics of the joint complex to diagnose the cause of these symptoms correctly.


The elbow joint comprises three distinct articulations: the ulnohumeral, radiohumeral (radiocapitellar), and proximal radioulnar joints.

  • The ulnohumeral and radiohumeral joints provide flexion/extension of the elbow and pronation/supination of the forearm.
  • The proximal radioulnar joint works in conjunction with the distal radioulnar joint at the wrist to achieve forearm pronation and supination.

The movements of the elbow complex, produced by muscle action (Tables 6-1 and 6-2), include flexion and extension of the elbow, and pronation and supination of the forearm. Stability of the elbow complex during these movements is provided by the osseous relationships and by medial and lateral ligament complexes (Table 6-3).

Table 6-1 Muscle Compartments of the Forearm
Table 6-2 Muscles of the Elbow and Forearm: Their Actions, Nerve Supply, and Nerve Root Derivation

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