Types of Joints

A joint is a point where two or more bones meet. There are three main types of joints; Fibrous (immovable), Cartilaginous (partially moveable) and the Synovial (freely moveable) joint.

Fibrous Joints

Fibrous (synarthrodial): This type of joint is held together by only a ligament. Examples are where the teeth are held to their bony sockets and at both the radioulnar and tibiofibular joints.


Cartilaginous (synchondroses and symphyses): These joints occur where the connection between the articulating bones is made up of cartilage for example between vertebrae in the spine.

A cartilaginous joint between two vertebrae

Synchondroses are temporary joints which are only present in children, up until the end of puberty. For example the epiphyseal plates in long bones. Symphesis joints are permanent cartilaginous joints, for example, the pubic symphysis.

Synovial Joints

Synovial (diarthrosis): Synovial joints are by far the most common classification of a joint within the human body. They are highly moveable and all have a synovial capsule (collagenous structure) surrounding the entire joint, a synovial membrane (the inner layer of the capsule) which secretes synovial fluid (a lubricating liquid) and cartilage known as hyaline cartilage which pads the ends of the articulating bones. There are 6 types of synovial joints which are classified by the shape of the joint and the movement available.

Types of Synovial Joint

  • The hinged joint is found at the elbow and the knee and movements available are flexion and extension.
  • The pivot joint is found at the top of the spine (atlas and axis bones) and allows rotation of the neck.

Joint Type Movement at joint Examples Structure
Hinge Flexion/Extension




Hinge joint

Pivot Rotation of one bone around another

Top of the neck
(atlas and axis bones)

Pivot Joint

Ball and Socket


Abduction/Internal & External Rotation



Ball and socket joint




CMC joint of the thumb

Saddle joint





Wrist/MCP & MTP joints

Condyloid joint

Gliding Gliding movements

Intercarpal joints

Gliding joint



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