Types of Gliding Joints

X-ray normal foot lateral
An x-ray of someone's foot. (Image: stockdevil/iStock/Getty Images)

Gliding joints are also called plane joints or arthrodial joints. The book "Fundamentals Concepts of Anatomy" describes gliding joints as flat bone diarthroses that move in a gliding action that is limited by ligaments. Ligaments are the fibrous tissues that hold bones together. Gliding joints are located in wrists, ankles and spines.

Zygapophyseal Joints

According to "Gray's Anatomy for Students," zygapophyseal joints are located between the articular processes of the vertebrae. The articular processes are the structures that stick out to the sides and posterior of the vertebral bones of the spine. These processes are connected to the processes of vertebral bone above and below them by tiny ligaments, thus forming small, gliding joints between the vertebral arches.

Wrist Joint

The wrist is made up of eight small bones, known as carpal bones. According to "The Classic Collector's Edition Gray's Anatomy" the carpal bones sit in two layers, with the first layer closest to the finger bones made up of the trapezium, trapezoid, capitate and hamate. The second layer, which sits closest to the bones of the forearm, includes the pisiform, triquetrum, lunate and scaphoid bones. Ligaments keep these bones in place, resulting in a number of gliding joints.

Ankle Joint

The ankle joint is the gliding joint where the tarsal bones of the foot and the two bones of the lower leg--the tibia and the fibula--meet. Additional gliding joints occur between the tarsal bones themselves, similar to the ones within the wrist. The tarsal bones include the three cuneiform bones, the cuboid, the navicular and the talus bones.

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