Different Types of Joints & Common Problems

Did you know that there are between 250-350 joints in the human body? The reason why this is not an exact number is because the number of joints can vary with age, the number of sesamoids can vary, and the definition of joints can either be the point at which two bones connect or the point where bones connect for the purpose of movement. 

Joints in the human body are defined by their movement (or absence of movement). There are three types of joints: 

When it comes to joint problems and injuries, synovial joints are affected far more than fixed or cartilaginous joints. For this reason, we will be looking closely at the different types of synovial joints, where they are found in the body, and what problems or injuries commonly affect them. There are six different types of synovial joints, including: 

Ball and Socket Joints

Ball and socket joints are composed of one bone with a rounded head that fits into the cup of another bone. Since the rounded head can move freely within the cup, or socket, this allows for movement in all directions. Common ball and socket joints include the hips and shoulders. Osteoarthritis is a common problem seen in the hip joints that occurs as the lubricating cartilage of the joint degenerates. In the shoulder, it is common to develop rotator cuff tendinitis, which is a swelling of the tendons that support the rotator cuff. 


Hinge Joints

Hinge Joints open and close in a single direction, much like a door. Some examples of hinge joints include fingers, toes, ankles, elbows, and knees. Like ball and socket joints, hinge joints can be affected by osteoarthritis as the joint degenerates. Additionally, hinge joints are also prone to dislocation and tissue damage from sports injuries. 


Condyloid Joints

Condyloid joints, also known as ellipsoid joints, are composed of an egg-shaped bone known as a condyle that fits into a similarly shaped cavity. Although it sounds similar to a ball and socket joint, condyloid joints only allow for forward-backward and side to side movement and do not allow rotation. An example of condyloid joints is the wrist. Condyloid joints are also found in the hands and allow for the movement of fingers. Sprains, carpal tunnel syndrome, and arthritis are common problems that can affect the condyloid joints and surrounding structures. 


Pivot Joints

Also known as rotary joints or trochoid joints, pivot joints are composed of one bone that swivels within the ring of a second bone allowing for rotation. The joint between the ulna and radius, as well as the joint between the first and second vertebrae are pivot joints. Pivot joints can dislocate, fracture, become sprained or strained, and be affected by wear and tear problems, such as arthritis. 


Gliding Joints

Also known as the plane joint, gliding joints are composed of two smooth surfaces that slide over one another to produce limited movement. They are primarily found in the ankles, wrist, and spine. Like the other joints in the body, plane joints can be affected by arthritis. 


Saddle Joints

Saddle joints are composed of one bone that is concave, resembling a saddle, and another bone that is convex, resembling a rider. They are found in the thumb, shoulder, and inner ear, and allow for a variety of movement in multiple directions. Saddle joints are especially prone to osteoarthritis. 


You Might Also Enjoy...

3 Tips to Accelerate Healing After Suffering a Fracture

A broken bone can feel like a big setback. Thankfully, there are simple ways to speed up your recovery and get back on the move in no time. Keep reading to learn more about accelerating fracture healing so that you feel better fast.

Could My Knee Pain Be a Meniscus Tear?

If you have ongoing knee pain, it could indicate a serious condition like a meniscus tear. This injury can cause difficulty bending or extending the knee and swelling and stiffness in the joint. Read more here about the risks of a meniscus tear.

How Physical Therapy Can Minimize Your Need for Hip Surgery

Hip joint pain makes it hard to do everyday tasks. Physical therapy is part of a conservative treatment plan if you’re not ready for hip replacement surgery. You might prevent or postpone the need for hip replacement surgery with physical therapy.

Does My ACL Tear Require Surgery?

Depending on the extent of your injury, we can successfully treat an ACL tear conservatively or with surgery. Most ACL injuries require surgery to regain total knee usage, but that’s not always the case. Does your ACL tear require surgery?