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Anatomy of the Hand

The hand is composed of many different bones, muscles, and ligaments that allow for a large amount of movement and dexterity.

Back view and palm view of hand showing bones, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons.

There are 3 major types of bones in the hand itself:

  • Phalanges. The 14 bones that are found in the fingers of each hand and also in the toes of each foot. Each finger has 3 phalanges (the distal, middle, and proximal). The thumb only has 2.

  • Metacarpal bones. The 5 bones that compose the middle part of the hand.

  • Carpal bones. The 8 bones that create the wrist. The 2 rows of carpal bones are connected to 2 bones of the arm—the ulna bone and the radius bone.

Numerous muscles, ligaments, tendons, and sheaths can be found within the hand. The muscles are the structures that can contract, allowing movement of the bones in the hand. The ligaments are fibrous tissues that help bind together the joints in the hand. The sheaths are tubular structures that surround part of the fingers. The tendons connect muscles in the arm or hand to the bone to allow movement and typically pass through the sheaths.

In addition, there are arteries, veins and nerves within the hand that provide blood flow and sensation to the hand and fingers.

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