What Is the Articular Eminence?

Sandra Koehler

The body is composed of many different bones that join together to form a cohesive unit capable of moving in deliberate unison. A joint, also referred to as an articulation, is the connection point between the bones that allows this movement while providing the necessary support to hold the body parts together. The articular eminence is the area on a bone where this connection is made.

Articular eminence are areas where bones in a joint touch each other.
Articular eminence are areas where bones in a joint touch each other.

Each bone in the body has a unique shape that allows it to fit into neighboring bones through distinct features — such as rounded edges or contoured ends with unique ridges or protrusions — like puzzle pieces. The bony projection or outcropping at the end of some bones is referred to as the articular eminence. This area allows the bones to be united through a series of support structures such as muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Whereas tendons are tough bands of fibers that attach muscles to bones, ligaments are strips of fibrous tissue that link a bone to another bone. These bands, consisting of a tough yet flexible group of cells called connective tissue, commonly attach to the articular eminence of bones to form a bond to a nearby bone. Some of these bonds allow for the bones to move in harmony to allow the particular body part to change position, as seen in the knee. This type of joint, referred to as a diarthrodial joint, permits the lower leg to be connected to the thigh and gives the lower leg the ability move.

Other ligaments that may attach to an articular eminence secure the different bones together and prohibit movement. These junctures, called synarthrotic joints, are most common in the head, in the form of sutures. Sutures are seam-like lines that fasten the various bones of the head together to provide a sturdy covering for the brain.

Another example of an immoveable joint is the connection between the tibia and fibula, the bones of the lower leg. Also called the tibiofibular joint, this connection is made possible by ligaments attaching to the articular eminences of each bone and holding them next to each other. This bond offers the lower leg and foot more stability while providing additional articulating surfaces for tendons and muscles for accurate and fluid motion of the leg as a whole.

Without unique features such as the articular eminence, bones would not have the ability to stay in place in relation to other bones, creating the basis for the skeleton. Muscles would be unable to attach to two separate bones simultaneously. Without the articular eminence, the body would lack definition and the capability to move fluidly and in conjunction with other areas of the body.

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