Types of Joints

(between bones in the human body)

Different types of joints enable the bones forming the joints to move relative to each other in different ways and to different extents, i.e. from freely moveable to hardly any movement at all.

The types of joints in the human body can be classified according to either

  • the structure of the joint (how the bones are attached together) or
  • the function of the joint (described in terms of the extent of possible movement of the bones forming the joint).

There is, of course, a connection between the structure of a joint and the degree of movement of the bones it allows. It is useful to know the words used to refer to and describe different classes of types of joints - see the table below.


Some practical courses concentrate on the structural types (or "classes") of joints.

Structural Classes of Joints

Functional Classes of Joints

Fibrous Joints
(fixed)

Immoveable joint

Synarthrosis (singular)
Synarthroses (plural)

Cartilaginous Joints
(slightly moveable)

Slightly moveable joint

Amphiarthrosis (singular)
Amphiarthroses (plural)

Synovial Joints
(incl. freely moveable)

Moveable Joint, or "Freely moveable joint"

Diarthrosis (singular)
Diarthroses (plural)


How many types of joints in the human body ?

Studying human biology or human anatomy involves learning many lists. Some test or exam questions ask for a specific number of examples that is fewer than the total number of possible examples of joints, bones, muscles, etc.. When answering test questions take note of the specific type (e.g. of joints) asked for. Also pay attention to the level of detail required e.g. "list" or "name" as opposed to "sketch", "define", "describe" or "give examples of".

The following table includes examples of lists of types of joints. See also the links to further information where available.

Example of requested list / question

List of Types of Joints

three types of joints
3 types of joints
i.e. categories of types of joints
 
  1. Fibrous (fixed)
  2. Cartilaginous
    (slightly moveable or immoveable)
  3. Synovial
    (incl. freely moveable)
  1. Immoveable
  2. Slightly moveable
  3. Moveable or
    "Freely moveable"
  1. immoveable (synarthroses)
  2. slightly moveable (amphiarthroses)
  3. freely moveable (diarthroses)

= 3 types of joints in the body
= 3 types of joints in the human body

six types of joints
6 types of synovial joints
 
  1. Hinge, e.g. interphalangeal joints - fingers and toes
  2. Ball and socket, e.g. hip and shoulder joints
  3. Pivot, e.g. atlantoaxial joint between the atlas and axis - neck
  4. Gliding (= "Condyloid" joint), e.g. between radius, scaphoid and lunate bones - wrist
  5. Saddle, e.g. between trapezium and metacarpal I - thumb joint
  6. Planar, e.g. between the navicular and second cuniform - ankle

if "synovial joints" has already been made clear, e.g. in the title of the question, it may just say "6 types of joints"

four types of joints
4 types of movable joints
 
  • Hinge, e.g. interphalangeal joints - fingers and toes
  • Ball and socket, e.g. hip and shoulder joints
  • Pivot, e.g. atlantoaxial joint between the atlas and axis - neck
  • Gliding (= "Condyloid" joint), e.g. between radius, scaphoid and lunate bones - wrist
  • Saddle, e.g. between trapezium and metacarpal I - thumb joint
  • Planar, e.g. between the navicular and second cuniform - ankle
three types of joints in the body
3 types of fibrous joints

 

 
  1. Sutures, (immovable - synarthroses)
    e.g. between the cranial bones - skull
  2. Syndesmoses, (slightly movable - amphiarthroses)
    e.g. articulation between the tibia and fibula - lower leg
  3. Gomphoses, (immovable - synarthroses)
    e.g. articulations of the roots of the teeth - mouth
cartilaginous joints
2 types of cartilaginous joints

 

 
  1. Synchondroses, (immovable - synarthroses)
  2. Symphses, (slightly movable - amphiarthroses)
four types of joints
7 types of joints
 
  1. Hinge (movable joint)
  2. Ball and socket (movable joint)
  3. Pivot (movable joint)
  4. Gliding or "Condyloid", (movable joint)
  5. Saddle (movable joint)
  6. Planar (movable joint)
  7. Symphses (slightly movable joint)
  8. Synchondroses (immovable joint)
  9. Sutures (immovable joint)
  10. Syndesmoses (slightly movable joint)
  11. Gomphoses (immovable joint)
  1. Hinge (movable joint)
  2. Ball and socket (movable joint)
  3. Pivot (movable joint)
  4. Gliding or "Condyloid", (movable joint)
  5. Saddle (movable joint)
  6. Slightly Movable joint
  7. Immovable joint
lists of joints

This is the end of this page about types of joints in the human body. See also features on bones, the structure and functions of bones, the 206 human bones, cranial and facial bones, bones of the feet and hands and skeletal disorders are also included.







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