The wrist is a complex synovial joint formed by articulations of the radius, the articular disc of the distal radioulnar joint and the carpal bones.

The wrist is made up of three joint articulations 1:

Movements at the condyloid radiocarpal joint of the wrist include 1:

A greater proportion of the total range (60o) of wrist extension occurs at the radiocarpal joint 1. In contrast, a greater proportion of the total range (80o) of wrist flexion occurs at the midcarpal joint, which is also the primary joint involved in wrist adduction and abduction 2.

The wrist joint has intrinsic and extrinsic stabilizing structures 1,3.



A two-layered synovial capsule envelops the radiocarpal joint, attaching proximally to the radius and ulna, and distally to the carpal bones. The joint capsule thickens to form palmar, dorsal and collateral ligaments 1.

Arterial supply of the wrist is via the palmar and dorsal carpal arches 1.

  • palmar carpal arch
  • dorsal carpal arch
    • supplied by palmar carpal branches of the radial and ulnar arteries
    • reinforced by the anterior interosseous artery, alongside penetrating deep branches of the deep palmar arch

Innervation of the wrist is via the anterior interosseous nerve (arising from the median nerve), posterior interosseous nerve (arising from the radial nerve), and the deep and dorsal branches of the ulnar nerve 1.

Anatomy: Upper limb

Anatomy: Upper limb

Article information

rID: 83429
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • wrist anatomy
  • wrist joint anatomy

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Cases and figures

  • Normal radiographic anatomy of the wrist
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