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What is a Ramus?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Feb 18, 2024
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In anatomy as well as in medicine, the term ramus is often given to any branch or division that occurs in a blood vessel or nerve. This word is also used to describe a part of a bone that has an irregular shape but is considered to be thicker than the structure referred to as a process. Branches relating to fissures in the brain may also be called rami, which is the plural form of the word ramus.

The ramus of the mandible, also known as the mandibular ramus, is located on the lower jaw. There is one of these structures on each side of the jaw, or mandible. It sits just behind the lower teeth. In the event of periodontal disease, a ramus bone graft is sometimes performed so that dental implants can be placed in the mouth of the patient.

The superior pubic ramus is found on the pubic bone. Part of this ramus is flat, while the other part is shaped like a prism. The inferior pubic ramus is flat and is found directly below the superior pubic ramus. Both the superior and the inferior pubic rami are prone to fracture, particularly in the elderly. Hip replacement surgery sometimes becomes necessary in severe cases.

The dorsal branch of the spinal nerves are known as the dorsal rami. These branches, or divisions, supply nerves to the skin and muscles located in the trunk area of the body. The dorsal rami then branch into the ventral rami. When this area of the body becomes damaged, some amount of muscle functioning can be lost. It is also possible to lose some of the sensation, or feeling, in the affected areas.

The ventral, or anterior, rami are responsible for the nerve supply to certain portions of the trunk as well as the limbs of the body. These rami then branch even further into the rami communicans. These rami work by connecting nerves to one another, most specifically between the sympathetic trunk and a spinal nerve. As is the case with the dorsal rami, some muscle movements or even nerve sensations can be compromised with damage to this area of the body.

In the heart, there are typically two main branches from the primary coronary artery on the left side. However, some people have a third branch coming from this artery. This extra branch is known as a ramus. It is also sometimes referred to as the optional diagonal coronary artery.

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Discussion Comments
By pastanaga — On Oct 06, 2011

I suspect I'm going to have to have a hip replacement at some point in the future. I know that my mother is already being told that she's going to have to have one in the next few years.

And, for a while it seemed like that area, around the pelvic ramus, would start to ache whenever I did any kind of strenuous activity.

I think that it was mostly because I was overweight, and putting too much stress on my hips whenever I ran around too much.

Thankfully I've lost most of the weight now, but I suspect the damage is done. I don't think bones completely regenerate after being damaged.

I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope though.

By bythewell — On Oct 05, 2011

@pleonasm - I've had the same problem. It seems to happen when I sit in bed too long, working on my laptop. I think the muscles there get compressed and start to get irritated.

I was told it can be particularly bad for people who grind their teeth at night. I'm glad I don't do that, but maybe that's why you get pain at odd times? If it happens in the morning, you might want to see about getting checked.

Putting stress on that area of the jaw is a bad idea. I find when it gets sore it can lead to toothache and headache and all kinds of things.

By pleonasm — On Oct 05, 2011

The ramus of my jaw, i.e. the mandible ramus, often seems to hurt. In fact, the first couple of times it hurt, I thought I had a tooth ache, and went in to the dentist.

He told me that some people just have a slightly odd shaped jaw there, and they can stress the ligaments and muscles so that they get inflammed. He told me I should never do things like chew gum, as that can make it worse.

It only seemed to happen once in a while, but it really hurts when it does.

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