Phalanges: Definition & Function

Phalanges: Definition & Function
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  • 0:02 What Are Phalanges?
  • 0:36 Location & Number
  • 1:22 Function
  • 2:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Do you have any phalanges? Are you unsure of what those are? This lesson will define phalanges for you and tell you where they are, how many there are, and what in the world you need them for.

What Are Phalanges?

Wiggle your fingers and toes please! Do you know what you've just done? You've wiggled the phalanges! The phalanges are the bones of the fingers and toes. You can feel them quite easily if you simply use the fingers of one hand to press down on a finger of the other hand. The hard thing you feel as you press down is a phalanx, singular for phalanges.

There are lots of phalanges and they serve all sorts of functions we usually don't even think about. This lesson is going to cover their location and quantity, as well as their function.

Location & Number

Again, the phalanges are the bones of the fingers and toes. If you look at your four fingers and thumb on your hand, you can see that the four fingers have two joints while the thumb only has one. This is because the fingers have three phalanges each:

  • The proximal phalanx, the one that connects to the palm of your hand
  • The middle phalanx
  • The distal phalanx, the one on top of which your nail sits

The thumb only has a proximal and distal phalanx. This means each hand has 14 phalanges, and both hands have a total of 28 phalanges.

As for the foot, you've got 14 phalanges in each foot for a total of 28 phalanges for both feet. The big toe has a proximal and distal phalanx, while the rest of the toes have a proximal, middle, and distal phalanx.


So what are all these phalanges good for? Well, kind of a lot of stuff. Have you ever thrown a ball before? Maybe you have eaten with a spoon or chopsticks. Perhaps you have used a computer mouse or typed on a keyboard. Maybe you've buttoned a shirt or your pants recently (hopefully). Our phalanges are necessary for all of that! To press, to grasp, to clip and clasp, to manipulate. Try going around all day with your hands in a fist and find out exactly how much our phalanges of the hand help us do!

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