Do you know there are different types of joints? Learn the different types of joints here to determine the right treatment or supplement.
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In this article:
- Why Is It Essential to Know the Types of Joints?
- Three Types of Joints
- More Different Types of Joints
- Joints Need Nourishment
Types of Joints | Where Are They, and What Do They Do?
Why Is It Essential to Know the Types of Joints?
Knowing the three main types of joints helps you beyond improving your scientific knowledge. Joint discomfort and swelling is an ongoing issue for many people.
Prescription medication and nutritional supplements can often provide relief and even promote healthier bones.
To understand what those aching or swollen joints need for better health, though, you need to know the category of the joint causing the problem.
Each of the three primary types of joints has a different function. Some of them are more susceptible to age and injury than others.
Three Types of Joints
There are three main joint types in the human body. Within each of the three main types are subcategories.
It’s useful to know the primary characteristics of the main categories of joints.
The three types of joints can differ according to the types of movement they allow. These movements — or lack of them — range from completely fixed to freely movable.
1. Synovial Joints
Synovial joints are the most common joint in the human body. They are also the joints that allow the most freedom of movement.
Some of the well-known synovial joints are the knee, elbow, shoulder, hip, and wrist joints.
The cavities of these kinds of joints contain synovial fluid. It helps prevent friction from cartilage rubbing together.
Over the cavity is the articular capsule, which connects the bones.
The kneecap is an example of an articular capsule, covered with bone. The interplay of these joints depends on a complex set of materials, including collagen.
Within the main category of synovial joints, there are several subtypes. Among them are:
- Hinge Joint — Hinge joints operate much like a door hinge, and they allow extending or flexing in one direction. Elbows, fingers, and toes are all examples of hinge joints.
- Compound Joint — The knee is a compound synovial joint, which is like a modified hinge joint. It can both flex and extend, as well as do some rotational movements.
- Pivot Joint — Pivot joints allow one bone to rotate around the other. The upper part of the neck and the forearm are two examples.
- Plane Joint — Plane joints allow for a gliding motion of the bones in the joint. Wrists and shoulders contain plane joints.
- Ball-and-Socket Joint — This type of joint appears wherever the protuberance, or “ball,” of one bone fits neatly into the depression, or “socket,” of the adjoining bone. This arrangement allows for a wide variety of movements. Hips and shoulders both have ball-and-socket joints.
- Saddle Joint — This type of synovial joint features two bone surfaces that are saddle-shaped, and they fit neatly into each other. The thumb joint is a type of saddle joint.
2. Fibrous Joints
Fibrous joints are a fixed type of joint. It means they are immovable or mostly immovable.
Fibrous joints don’t have joint cavities. There isn’t any particular kind of fluid within those cavities, unlike the synovial joints.
The connective tissue of tough collagen fibers holds them together. The main purpose of most fibrous joints is to protect what they surround.
This is why they’re either immovable or move only slightly. There are three main types of fibrous joints.
These are suture, gomphosis, and syndesmosis. Like synovial joints, each subcategory has its unique function:
- Suture Joint
Sutures are joints that only exist in the skull. There are actually dozens of joints in the skull alone, each designed to articulate with the skull bones.
Most sutures allow for slight movement, which is especially helpful for newborns coming through the birth canal. With age, these joints become more rigid.
- Syndesmosis Joint
The syndesmosis joints allow for a slight movement. The lower leg and upper ankle areas are examples of syndesmosis joints, and a connective tissue joins them together.
- Gomphosis Joint
The gomphosis joints are near the mouth. Specifically, they connect the teeth to the upper and lower jawbones.
The jawbones have sockets within them, into which the pegs at the bottom of the teeth connect via gomphosis fibers.
Children become familiar with these as the joints that begin to give teeth “wiggle room” as they loosen. For teens, the gomphosis joints are what allow teeth to move when they’re wearing braces or retainers.
3. Cartilaginous Joints
When it comes to the range of motion, cartilaginous joints fall somewhere between fixed fibrous joints and freely moving synovial joints. As its name suggests, cartilage binds them together.
Cartilage Definition: A tough, flexible connective tissue
In children, some of these cartilaginous joints form the basis of what will eventually harden into spinal discs and long bones.
Under this category, there are two types of joints:
- Synchondrosis Joint
This type of cartilaginous joint is immovable. It contains a definite type of cartilage that connects bones.
An example is the sections within long bones that eventually harden as children grow. Others are the synchondrosis joints that connect the ribs.
- Symphysis Joint
The symphysis types of cartilaginous joints are slightly movable. They fuse two bones together and connect the sternum areas.
You can also find symphysis cartilaginous joints in the pubic bone region and the discs between spinal vertebrae.
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More Different Types of Joints
The three main types of joints are the most popular and common, but there are far more joints in the body to know. These include the following:
1. Ellipsoidal Joints
Ellipsoidal joints such as the ones at the wrist are also synovial joints, which means a synovial membrane or fluid surrounds them. This allows for proper lubrication and better degrees of freedom.
These joints feature an ovoid articular surface connected to a hollow elliptical cavity. For this reason, it can also be a ball and socket.
This setup permits the joints to move in different directions like side to side or forward and backward. They can move in two planes, but they cannot rotate.
2. Gliding Joints
The gliding joints are also synovial joints, but they form by the meeting of bones with a flat or nearly flat surface. Ligaments can then hold them together.
As their name suggests, these types of joints tend to glide past each other. This allows a range of motion which includes diagonal, up and down, left and right.
The presence of the ligaments, articular cartilage, and synovial fluids, however, can limit this range of motion mainly to prevent injury.
Some of these joints are in the shoulder, ankle, and wrist. The hips may also have gliding joints.
3. Acromioclavicular Joint
This is one of the types of joints you can find in the shoulder. Also known as AC, it comprises the clavicle, or the collarbone, and acromion, which is part of the scapula or the shoulder blade.
This joint allows you to raise your arms above your head. It may then explain why AC injuries are common among weightlifters and those who bench press regularly.
These types of joints are also susceptible to different kinds of arthritis like osteoarthritis, which is the gradual wear of the joints that result in stiffness and swelling. This condition may also be because of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
4. Knee Joint
The knee may look like a simple structure, but it is one of the complex mechanical parts, from tendon to muscles and joints.
The femur or the thigh bone and the tibia or the shin bone compose the primary knee joint. The patella or kneecap then meets with the femur, forming the patellofemoral joint.
A dense, connective, and fibrous tissue keeps the joint in place. Despite the presence of many joints, the range of motion of the knee joint is limited.
It can move only in one axis. You can only extend or flex it, but you cannot rotate it.
5. Tibiofibular Joint
Two big bones form the lower leg, and these are tibia and fibula. They run from the knees toward the ankle.
Although they are different bones, they form two types of joints:
- Superior tibiofibular joint, which is a combination of the upper tibia and the head of the fibula
- Inferior tibiofibular joint, which is the joint between the two bones
- Middle tibiofibular joint, which features a fibrous connective tissue called the interosseous membrane
The superior tibiofibular joint reduces rotational stress and protects the tibia from an injury due to lateral bending. The inferior tibiofibular joint, meanwhile, allows a slight range of motion around the ankle.
6. Intervertebral Joint
This is the joint which allows you to move your back and spine without feeling pain despite the presence of many nerves. It features two types of joints, namely, cartilaginous and synovial.
Meanwhile, the adjacent vertebrae comprise a single unit of an intervertebral joint. In between is a cushion known as the intervertebral disc, which works as a shock absorber.
Joints Need Nourishment
In general, the more the joints depend on connective tissue for optimal movement, the more vulnerable they are to age, disease, or injury. Building up collagen stores is one way to keep various kinds of fibrous, cartilaginous, and synovial joints from degenerating.
Almost always, these types of joints can benefit from supplements that encourage collagen synthesis such as Body Protective Complex and repair of the connective tissue.
As a person ages, their production of collagen can decrease. These products can help augment the supply.
Check out this video for a quick review of the Dr. Seeds BPC:
Joint pain can vary from one person to another. A treatment that works for so many may not be the ideal one for you.
To treat swelling and aching with more precision, first, you need to know your anatomy better. Second, ask a doctor for more information, especially when it comes to discomfort or degeneration.
Only they can give you the right treatment or management plan.
What kinds of treatment did you receive for joint pain? Share your experiences below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 24, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.