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 the Meaning of Extra-Articular?

By Shelby Miller
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board 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 The Health Board, 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.

Extra-articular is an anatomical term used to refer to the joint-related structures outside of a joint. While there are several joint classifications, joints typically are made up of the adjacent surfaces of two or more articulating bones. Joints also have intra-articular spaces between them, which contain connective tissue, cartilage, a fluid-filled joint capsule, or more than one of the above. Finally, the extra-articular space of a joint is not found immediately between the bones but to the outside of the joint itself, often filled with soft tissue like ligaments that surround the joint and hold the bones together.

The body’s movable joints, like those found in the fingers, shoulders, hips, and knees, are known as synovial joints. These typically feature a membrane-lined, fluid-filled cavity in the joint’s intra-articular space called the joint capsule, which also contains cartilage to prevent the bones from making direct contact with one another. The first layer to the outside of the joint capsule is included among the extra-articular structures and is a fibrous membrane that protects the joint. This membrane is made largely of collagen and elastin fibers, which is a similar composition to ligaments.

Ligaments are also found in the extra-articular space, and they may be continuous with the fibrous membrane surrounding the joint. The function of ligaments is first and foremost to hold the bones together and provide stability to the joint. In the knee, for instance, a ginglymoid or hinge joint, the collateral ligaments run vertically along either side of the joint and help stabilize it against lateral forces on the knee, such as a football player colliding with the side of another player’s leg.

Many joints, the knee included, feature several accessory structures in their extra-articular space. One such tissue is the bursa. Like tiny pillows filled with synovial fluid instead of feathers, bursae are situated to the outside of joints and decrease friction between exterior joint structures, such as between a bone and the muscle tendon that runs over it. Another accessory joint structure is the fat pad, a cushion of adipose tissue or fat that fills the gap between adjacent bones, a gap similar to a weak point in a suit of armor. In doing so, it helps eliminate wearing on the joint cartilage as is seen at the knee joint between the kneecap and the tibia bone in the leg.

The articulating surfaces of the bones in the joint may themselves be considered extra-articular structures. These surfaces may be flat and close together to allow sliding movements, or they may fit around each other like puzzle pieces and produce movement in multiple directions. Muscle tendons are also sometimes counted as extra-articular tissues as they cross just to the outside of joints and make joint movement possible. Tendons attach muscle to bone and pull on the bone when the muscle contracts, causing the joint to move.

The Health Board 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

The Health Board, in your inbox

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

The Health Board, in your inbox

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