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What Are Hand Ligaments?

By Christian Petersen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hand ligaments are tough but flexible connective tissues that connect the bones of the human hand with each other and with the bones of the wrist and forearm. While the fibrous bands of tissues called ligaments can serve to connect bones to cartilage or other tissues, they most often connect bone to bone and serve to keep joints intact. In purely anatomical terms, only those ligaments that connect the bones of the hand to each other are properly called hand ligaments. The ligaments of the fingers and those that connect the hand to the wrist and forearm are not considered hand ligaments.

The hand is given structure and flexibility by hand ligaments, which bind together the various small bones that make up the hand and connect it to the wrist. In patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, it is the transverse carpal ligament that is affected. It is located near the point at which the hand meets the wrist and forms part of the structure known as the carpal tunnel, which is a passageway through which the median nerve enters the hand from the forearm. Two large ligaments bind the bones of the hand and wrist to the radius, a bone of the forearm. The first is on the back of the hand and is called the dorsal radiocarpal ligament, and the second, on the palm side of the hand, is called the palmar radiocarpal ligament.

The hand and wrist have many small ligaments that hold the bones together. Dorsal ligaments are on the back of the hand and include the carpometacarpal ligaments, dorsal metacarpal ligaments, dorsal intercarpal ligaments, dorsal radiocarpal ligaments, ulnar collateral ligament and the radial collateral ligament. Volar ligaments are on the palm side of the hand and include the palmar carpo-metacarpal ligaments, the pisometacarpal ligament, and the palmar intercarpal, ulnocarpal, and radiocarpal ligaments.

Several ligaments connect the bones of the fingers to each other and to the bones of the hand. These ligaments are divided into three main groups, volar, dorsal and superficial. All of these ligaments work together, and many of them overlap.

The volar finger ligaments, on the palm side of the hand, are further divided into subgroups. The deep volar ligaments run along the fingers and are underneath the superficial volar ligaments, which also run along the fingers but are closer to the skin. The cruciate ligaments, pairs of small ligaments that form an "X" shape across each finger joint, are superficial volar ligaments. The transverse metacarpal ligament crosses the hand from side to side on the palmar side, connecting the metacarpal bones near where the fingers join the hand.

The superficial dorsal finger ligaments run along the fingers on the back of the hand. They are interconnected with the lateral ligaments, which run along the sides of the fingers. The group of lateral ligaments also includes the oblique retinacular ligaments and the collateral ligaments which are found on each finger and provide structure and stability to the finger joints.

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