Amy works as a nurse educator for a university health care organization. She has a bachelor's of science in nursing and a master's degree in health care administration.
You are a nursing student trudging through copious amounts of new knowledge in your anatomy and physiology class and the next topic that you encounter is the types of joints in the body. The first type that your professor will focus on is the hinge joints. You pull out your notebook and begin to take notes, as you know that this lesson will be valuable in your future endeavors.
Joints synchronize movements of the human body. A joint is formed at the point where two or more bones meet and is classified by its structure and function. Hinge joints are classified under the structural category of synovial joints. Synovial joints have a cavity which contains synovial fluid and is surrounded by a fibrous capsule which also contains ligaments. Synovial joints also contain cartilage that covers the end of each bone. Hinge joints are classified under the functional category of a diarthrosis joint. A diarthrosis joint means that the joint is freely moveable.
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Joints are further classified by their range of free motion. In this case, this means that a hinge joint can move along one axis to flex and extend, or bend and straighten. Hinge joints do not naturally rotate or move from side to side. However, these unnatural movements can occur if someone sustains an injury to a hinge joint. Hyperextension and rotational injuries are common with hinge joints. These types of injuries occur when a trauma exerts significant force that moves the joint beyond its natural axis.
Athletes who compete in contact sports are prone to hyperextension of the knee, which can result in soft tissue damage, swelling, and tears or strains to the ligaments that surround the knee. Often times, orthopedic providers can predict the severity of the injury based on the description of the trauma that was sustained by the joint.
Hinge joints vary in complexity. The knee joint is the largest, most complicated hinge joint. This joint supports the weight of the entire human body and is only made up of the joining of three bones. Therefore, the many ligaments and tendons that surround the knee provide substantial support that is necessary for the knee to handle the countless motions of the body. The elbow joint and ankle joint are also supported by accessory ligaments that provide support to allow for locomotion.
The interphalangeal joints are the simplest hinge joints. They are also the smallest, as they are located between the bones in the fingers and the toes. Since very little body weight is exerted on these simple joints, they have very small accessory ligaments.
Joints play an important role in the fluid movements of humans. Hinge joints are classified as synovial and diarthrosis joints. The natural movement of hinge joints is along one axis that allows for flexion and extension. Flexion is the bending and extension is the straightening of a hinge joint. Hyperextension and rotational injuries can cause trauma to hinge joints by forcing the joint to move off its natural axis. Examples of hinge joints include: ankle, elbow, knee, and interphalangeal joints.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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Hinge Joints in the Body: Definition, Movement & Examples
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