Definition of Elbow
Elbow: The juncture of the long bones in the middle portion of the upper extremity. The bone of the arm (humerus) meets both the ulna (the inner bone of the forearm) and radius (the outer bone of the forearm) to form a hinge joint at the elbow. The radius and ulna also meet one another in the elbow to permit a small amount of rotation of the forearm. The elbow therefore functions to move the arm like a hinge (forward and backward) and in rotation (outward and inward). The biceps muscle is the major muscle that flexes the elbow hinge, and the triceps muscle is the major muscle that extends it. The primary stability of the elbow is provided by the ulnar collateral ligament, located on the medial (inner) side of the elbow. The outer bony prominence of the elbow is the lateral epicondyle, a part of the humerus bone. Tendons attached to this area can be injured, causing inflammation or tendonitis (lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow). The inner portion of the elbow is a bony prominence called the medial epicondyle of the humerus. Additional tendons from muscles attach here and can be injured, likewise causing inflammation or tendonitis (medial epicondylitis, or golfer's elbow).
Last Editorial Review: 3/19/2012
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