Muscles acting at the Elbow Joint

 Bones of the Hand

anconeus biceps brachii bones of the end brachialis brachioradialis coracobrachialis forearm pronator quadratus pronator teres pronators supinator supintors triceps brachii

Muscles at the elbow joint Physiotherapy Solihull Simon Evans

Flexors and Extensors of the Elbow

  • Upper arm is divided into 2 compartments
    • Flexors - biceps brachii, brachialis
    • Extensor - triceps brachii, anconeus
  • Additionally, brachioradialis and pronator teres (in the forearm) can assist with flexion of the elbow.

Pronators and Supinators of the Forearm

  • Muscles which pronate
    • Pronator teres 
    • Pronator quadratus
  • Muscles which supinate
    • Biceps brachii
    • Supinator 

    Biceps Brachii

    • Fusiform muscle arising from 2 palpable tendons proximally
      • Long head - from supraglenoid tubercle and adjacent glenoid labrum (intracapsular and covered in synovial sheath)
      • Short head - apex of corocoid process
    • Inserts into the posterior ½ of radial tuberosity and into the antebrachial fascia (via bicipital aponeurosis)
    • A: Elbow flexion, supination and assists with shoulder flexion
    • NS: Musculocutaneous nerve C5,6 


    • Covers the front of the elbow-joint and the lower half of the humerus under biceps brachii
    • Arises from the lower half of the front of the humerus and adjacent intermuscular septa
    • Fibres converge to a thick tendon, which inserts into the tuberosity of ulna and rough depression on the anterior surface of coronoid process
    • A: Strong flexor of elbow
    • NS: Musculocutaneous nerve (C5,6)


    • Evolutionary the only true adductor of the shoulder - grouped with biceps and brachialis due to common nerve supply
    • From the tip of the corocoid process
    • To roughened area on medial aspect of humerus
    • A: Adduction and flexion of GHJ
    • NS: Musculocutaneous nerve (C5,6,7)


    • Usually grouped with the extensors of wrist and digits as found in same compartment and shares common nerve supply
    • From upper 2/3s of lateral supracondylar ridge and lateral intermuscular septum
    • Forms a flat tendon which attaches to the lateral side of the radial styloid process
    • Flexion of elbow - most efficient in mid-prone position
    • NS: Radial nerve (C5,6) 

    Triceps Brachii

    • Found in posterior compartment of arm
    • From 3 heads
      • Long head - infraglenoid tubercle
      • Lateral head - posterior surface of shaft of humerus above spiral groove and lateral IM septum
      • Medial head - posterior surface of humerus below spiral groove and medial IM septum
      • 3 heads converge to a flat tendon which wraps around olecranon inserting into the upper ½ 
    • A: Extension of elbow
    • NS: Radial nerve (C7,8) 


    • A small triangular muscle found on the back of the elbow-joint
    • Appears to be a continuation of the Triceps brachii. 
    • Arises by a separate tendon from the back part of the lateral epicondyle of the humerus
    • Fibers diverge before inserting  into the side of the olecranon, and upper ¼ of dorsal surface of the body of the ulna
    • A: Extension of elbow
    • NS: Radial nerve (C7,8)

    Pronator Teres

    • Arises from 2 heads
      • Humeral head - common flexor origin and area immediately above
      • Ulnar head - medial border of coronoid process
    • Inserts into a roughened area on the lateral aspect midway down the radius
    • A: Powerful pronator of the forearm and weak flexor of the elbow
    • NS: Median nerve (C6,7) 

    Pronator Quadratus

    • Works in synergy with pronator teres
    • Attaches the lower ¼ of the raduis to ther lower ¼ of the ulna on the anterior aspect
    • A: Pronator of the forearm
    • Functionally plays an important role in stabilising the bones of the forearm
    • NS: Median nerve (anterior interosseous branch) (C8,T1)


    • Found in the extensor compartment of the forearm - works synergistically with biceps brachii
    • Arises from 2 heads
      • Humeral head - via tendon from common extensor origin, annular ligament, radial collateral ligament
      • Ulnar head - muscular attachment into supinator crest and fossa of ulna
    • Inserts into the anterior and lateral surfaces of the upper ½ of the shaft of radius
    • A: supination - most important with elbow extended
    • NS: Radial nerve (via posterior interosseous nerve) (C5,6)

    Bones of the Hand

    • Divided into 3 sections:
      • Carpus (8) - arranged into 2 rows - scaphoid, lunate, triquetral, pisiform (proximal) and trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, hamate (distal)
      • Metacarpals (5)
      • Phalanges (14)

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