Anatomy of the Condylar Joint

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The condylar joint, also known as the condyloid or ellipsoid joint, is similar to a ball and socket joint. However, the ligaments and the joint's oval shape prevent it from rotating. It moves up and down and side to side. The wrist joint is a perfect example of a condylar joint.

This article will discuss the anatomy, function, and conditions that are related to the condylar joint. It will also discuss condylar joint rehabilitation.

wrist joint

Stevica Mrdja / EyeEm / Getty Images

Anatomy

A joint is a junction between two bones. A condylar joint is a type of synovial joint. It moves along two axes (two directions), which are:

  • Flexion and extension: The up and down motions
  • Abduction and adduction: The side-to-side motions

The condylar joint can also move in circumduction, which is the combination of the other two motions in a circular movement.

The joint is made up of two bones. One of the bones is egg shaped and fits into its concave-shaped partner. These bones are held together with ligaments that control their movement.

Condylar joints can be found all over the body. They include the following joints:

Joints that are similar to the condylar joint but are in a different joint category are:

  • Knee: Hinge joint
  • Hip: Ball and socket joint
  • Elbow: Hinge joint
  • Shoulder: Ball and socket joint

Function

The condylar joints are crucial to everyday movements. They allow enough movement within the joint without overextending the bones. Your finger joints move in ways that permit grasping objects. The toe joints move in ways that keep the body balanced for walking and running.

The normal movement of condylar joints is biaxial. Meaning that it can move in two directions. These directions include:

  • Flexion and extension: The up and down movement
  • Abduction and adduction: The side-to-side movement
  • Circumduction: A combination of the previous two movements that allows the joint to go in a circular motion

Associated Conditions

Condylar joints undergo significant use and almost constant movement throughout the day and are subject to many different conditions.

The most common conditions are:

  • Arthritis: There are several types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type. It is known as wear-and-tear arthritis. It occurs when the joint begins to break down and causes changes in the bones.
  • Injury: A person can injure any one of their joints. Proper healing under the guidance of a healthcare provider can ensure that the person can regain full use of their joint.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome results when the median nerve inside the wrist is compressed. It can occur from injury to the wrist or from inflammation and swelling within the carpal tunnel space due to other conditions.
  • Sprains: When a ligament is stretched past its normal range of motion, it can cause a sprain.

Each type of condition related to the condylar joint will have its own treatment. A healthcare provider will need to evaluate the condition and determine the best treatment plan.

Rehabilitation

When an injury or condition affects the condylar joint, rehabilitation will focus on regaining full use of the joint.

If your joint has undergone surgery, casting after a broken bone, or other significant treatment, you may need the help of a physical therapist to regain the full range of motion in the joint. The physical therapist will work on strengthening the muscles that work the joint and have you perform stretching exercises to allow full movement of the joint.

For conditions that are chronic, meaning they have been present for greater than three months, like arthritis, rehabilitation of the condylar joint will focus on optimizing its use. This can be completed through exercise, medication, and hot and cold therapy.

Summary

A condylar joint is similar to a ball and socket joint. Condylar joints are found in the wrist, toes, and fingers. Also known as the condyloid joint, it allows the jaw, wrists, toes, and fingers to move up and down, from side to side, and around in circumduction. It does not allow for full rotation like the ball and socket joint.

Condylar joints are prone to certain conditions like arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and injuries. Most injuries or conditions can be treated and rehabilitated with guidance from a healthcare provider.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. IMAIOS. Ellipsoid joint.

  2. Biology Online. Condyloid joint.

  3. Lezak B, Massel DH. StatPearls. Anatomy, bony pelvis and lower limb, metatarsal bones.

  4. Orthopedic Institute of Henderson. Different types of joints & common problems.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Osteoarthritis (OA).

  6. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet.

  7. Penn Medicine. Sprains.

  8. The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Institute. Importance of physical therapy.

By Patty Weasler, RN, BSN
Patty is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in pediatric critical care. Her passion is writing health and wellness content that anyone can understand and use.