We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Ball and Socket Joint?

By Adam Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
TheHealthBoard is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At TheHealthBoard, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Many different types of joints exist in the human body, but the kind which allows the greatest range of motion is the ball and socket joint. These joints are present where one bone ends with a spherical knob that lies in a circular depression in the other bone. This arrangement theoretically allows for 360 degrees of rotation — in other words, a full circle. Each shoulder has a ball and socket joint where the upper arm meets the shoulder blade. The hips also have this type of joint on either side, where the femur meets the pelvic bone.

Both the shoulder and hip, in addition to having a ball and socket joint, are known as synovial joints. These are the most common type of joints in the human body. In a synovial joint, the two bones are not connected in the same way as other joints, but have additional tissue around the moving bones to provide lubrication and nourishment. On the end of each bone, where it touches the other, is a layer of cartilage which allows the bones to move past each other with a minimum of friction. Surrounding the cartilage is a fluid-like substance called synovial fluid. This aids in lubricating the joint, as well as helping the cells of the cartilage to operate efficiently.

The cartilage and synovial fluid are contained within the synovial membrane, which in turn is contained in a fibrous structure called the joint capsule. Beyond the joint capsule are the ligaments which hold the bones in place, and the muscles and tendons that move the bones. This is the basic structure of every ball and socket joint.

There are slight variations in some cases. The shoulder joint, for instance, contains a small sac called the bursa, filled with synovial fluid, which helps the many tendons, bones, and muscles in the shoulder to glide past each other without friction. It also acts as a cushion between the joint itself and nearby bones.

Due to the complex nature of ball and socket joints, they are usually the ones that are most subject to disease and wear. Surgical replacement of the hips and shoulders is not uncommon if the joints become worn enough that they cause severe pain when used. Other diseases and problems characterized by inflammation and/or degeneration, such as arthritis, can exact a particularly heavy toll these joints, because of how much we depend on them for movement.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon213628 — On Sep 12, 2011

the glenohumeral (shoulder joint proper) along with the hip joint are the only ones.

By MrsWinslow — On Jun 02, 2011

@rugbygirl - I don't think there are any other ball and socket joints. If you think about it, what other joints have that much circular motion possible? There are a whole bunch of different kinds of joints. Your wrist, for instance, is a condyloid joint (looks kind of like a ball and socket joint, but not as deep), while your thumbs are the only saddle joint in the body.

By rugbygirl — On Jun 01, 2011

How many ball and socket joints are in the body? The article mentions the hip and shoulder but it doesn't say if they're the only ones. And it talks about them being synovial joints, as if there might be other ball and socket joints that are not synovial.

TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

TheHealthBoard, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.