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The elbow is one of the most complex joints in the body. Injuries can take place to the muscles which travel past the elbow, to the ligaments or to the joint itself. The humerus (upper arm bone) links to both the ulnar and radius (the two bones in the forearm) to allow bending and straightening of the elbow as well as rotation of the forearm. The bones are held together by 2 main ligaments, the medial and lateral collateral ligaments. These go from the humerus to the ulnar and do not attach to the radius. The radius (the outer bone when the palm faces up) is held in place by the interosseous membrane which runs from the radius to the ulnar as well as the annular ligament which wraps around the head and neck of the radius.
The main muscle which bends the elbow inserts on the ulnar and is call the Brachialis muscle. This sits under the biceps muscle (which is the one most people think is bending then arm). While the biceps does have a minor role in bending the arm (it inserts into the radius not the ulnar) its main role is supination of the forearm (twisting the palm to face towards the sky – think of the hand like a soup bowl – supination is to put the bowl in the right position to be filled with soup). Triceps is the main muscle which straightens the elbow and is found at the back of the arm.
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