Hands

Last revised by Dr Calum Worsley on 14 Sep 2022

The hand is part of the upper limb below the forearm and wrist. In the supinated anatomical position, the palm is facing anteriorly and the dorsum posteriorly.

The bones of the hand are:

As the thumb is structurally different to the other digits of the hand, with different movements and musculature, there is debate as to whether the thumb is considered a finger 2. It can therefore confusing to refer to the fingers by number - is the "first finger" the thumb or the first of the four other digits? For this reason it is advisable to refer to the digits by names given to them rather than by number. From the radial to the ulnar aspect of the hand, they are named as follows:

  • thumb
  • index finger
  • middle finger or long finger
  • ring finger
  • little finger

In the standard anatomical position, the hand is flat and supinated with the fingers spread. This positions the thumb at the lateral aspect of the hand and the little finger at the medial aspect of the hand. It is often easier to use radial and ulnar to refer to the lateral and medial aspects of structures in the hand, as these may be more intuitive without having to remember the anatomical position. 

Hand movement is complex and occurs across many joints, including those involved in wrist flexion.

Muscles of the hand can be divided into:

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: flexor insertions at the hand and wrist
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  • Figure 1: extensor insertions at the hand and wrist
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  • Figure 2a: muscle attachments (Gray's illustration)
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  • Figure 2b: muscle attachments (Gray's illustration)
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  • Figure 3a: normal anatomy (frontal)
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  • Figure 3b: normal anatomy (oblique)
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