Metacarpophalangeal joint

Jump to: navigation, search
Metacarpophalangeal joint
Metacarpophalangeal articulation and articulations of digit. Volar aspect.
Metacarpophalangeal articulation and articulations of digit. Ulnar aspect.
Latin articulationes metacarpophalangeae
Gray's subject #90 332
MeSH Metacarpophalangeal+Joint
Dorlands/Elsevier a_64/12161410

The metacarpophalangeal joints (MCP) are of the condyloid kind, formed by the reception of the rounded heads of the metacarpal bones into shallow cavities on the proximal ends of the first phalanges, with the exception of that of the thumb, which presents more of the characters of a ginglymoid joint.


Each joint has a volar and two collateral ligaments.

Volar ligaments

The volar ligaments (glenoid ligaments of Cruveilhier; palmar or vaginal ligaments) are thick, dense, fibrocartilaginous structures, placed upon the volar surfaces of the joints in the intervals between the collateral ligaments, to which they are connected; they are loosely united to the metacarpal bones, but are very firmly attached to the bases of the first phalanges.

Their volar surfaces are intimately blended with the transverse metacarpal ligament, and present grooves for the passage of the Flexor tendons, the sheaths surrounding which are connected to the sides of the grooves.

Their deep surfaces form parts of the articular facets for the heads of the metacarpal bones, and are lined by synovial membranes.

Collateral Ligaments

The collateral ligaments (ligamenta collateralia; lateral ligaments) are strong, rounded cords, placed on the sides of the joints (Radial Collateral Ligament (RCL), Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL)); each is attached by one extremity to the posterior tubercle and adjacent depression on the side of the head of the metacarpal bone, and by the other to the contiguous extremity of the phalanx.

Dorsal surfaces

The dorsal surfaces of these joints are covered by the expansions of the Extensor tendons, together with some loose areolar tissue which connects the deep surfaces of the tendons to the bones.


The movements which occur in these joints are flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, and circumduction; the movements of abduction and adduction are very limited, and cannot be performed when the fingers are flexed.

The muscles of flexion and extension are as follows:

Location Flexion Extension
fingers Flexor digitorum superficialis and profundus, lumbricales, and interossei, assisted in the case of the little finger by the flexor digiti minimi brevis extensor digitorum communis, extensor indicis proprius, and extensor digiti minimi muscle
thumb flexores pollicis longus and brevis extensores pollicis longus and brevis

Additional images

External links

This article was originally based on an entry from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. As such, some of the information contained herein may be outdated. Please edit the article if this is the case, and feel free to remove this notice when it is no longer relevant.