Names of the bones in the human arm , wrist and hand Scapula Bone Diagrams
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Hand Bones

Bones of the hand and wrist (sometimes called simply "hand bones") are part of the appendicular skeleton which includes the hands, arms and shoulder girdle (clavicle and scapula) and the feet, legs and pelvic girdle. See also the whole human skeleton.

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The bones of the wrist and hand labelled above include:

Most of the bones in the upper-limbs (arms) are in the wrist and hands. The hand bones may be studied in more detail due to their complexity, while study of the arm bones may include more about the muscles attached to different parts of the humerus, ulna and radius and the actions of those muscles.

Carpal Bones (= wrist bones)

Another name for the wrist is the carpus: carpus = wrist

This consists of eight small bones called carpal bones that are arranged (approximately) in two rows of four.
The flexibility of the human wrist is partly due to this arrangement of many small bones - each of which articulates with several of the others, i.e. all of the others that surround it - above/below and to either side.

The shapes of the carpal bones together with the flexibility with which they can move relative to each other results in the wrist bones being quite difficult to draw and in drawings of them sometimes looking quite different in different views in various books or webpages. When sketching the carpal bones in a test or exam the detailed shape of each individual bone is generally less important than their relative positions. Remember the "top row" (nearest to the arm bones, the radius and ulna) and the "second row" (nearest to the metacarpal bones):

LATERAL

MEDIAL

"Top Row" of Carpal Bones

Scaphoid

Lunate

Triquetrum

Pisiform

"2nd Row" of Carpal Bones

Trapezium

Trapezoid

Capitate

Hamate

The carpal bones are named according to their shapes. That doesn't much help with learning to draw simple diagrams of the wrist bones but it can be useful for identifying the individual carpal bones in isolation.


Metacarpal Bones

Another name for the palm of the hand is the metacarpus : metacarpus = palm of the hand

The skeletal structure of the metacarpus consists of 5 metacarpal bones (shown shaded light green in the diagram at the top of this page). The metacarpal bones are "long cylindrical bones" (see types of bone) and are labelled I,II, III, IV and V or sometimes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Metacarpal I (or 1) is the metacarpal bone to which the thumb is attached.
This bone ("metacarpal I" = "metacarpal 1") is sometimes called the pollex.

Each of the five (5) metacarpal bones can be described as consisting of three parts:

  1. a proximal base - the slightly bulging "end" of the metacarpal bone attached to the wrist/carpal bones
  2. a body or "shaft" - the longest part of the metacarpal bone extending between the proximal and distal ends
  3. a distal head -the slightly bulging "end" of the metacarpal bone furthest from the wrist. The "heads" of the carpal bones are commonly called "knuckles" and form the bony protrusions visible when the hand is clenched into a fist.

Phalange bones in the hand

The phalange bones in the hand are the finger bones (bones of the fingers - and thumb).

The terms "Phalanges" and "Phalange bones" are plural. The singular word for one of these bones is a phalanx.

  • There are 2 phalanges in the thumb:
    • a proximal phalanx (next to the pollex), and
    • a distal phalanx (furthest from the wrist).
  • There are 3 phalanges in each of the 4 fingers:
    • a proximal phalanx (next to the nearest metacarpal bone),
    • an intermediate phalanx (forming the middle bone of the finger), and
    • a distal phalanx (furthest from the wrist).
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