Here’s a quick way to grasp the carpal bones

Published on 9th April 2021


Those of you studying Anatomy and Physiology will have come across the carpal bones of the hand. These eight bones form the junction between the distal ends of the radius and ulna, and the proximal ends of the metacarpals. They form the wrist.

  • Scaphoid
  • Lunate
  • Triquetral
  • Pisiform
  • Trapezium
  • Trapezoid
  • Capitate
  • Hamate

There are two distinct rows of carpal bones; the proximal row and the distal row.

Rapid refresher                   Proximal = closest to the trunk of the body

                                    Distal = furthest away from the trunk of the body.

The Proximal Row

This row of carpal bones is closest to the bones of the forearm - the radius and ulna.

It consists of four bones - the scaphoid, lunate, triquetral and pisiform.

Try these associations to help you remember general carpal bone positions:

Radius Scaphoid - the radius articulates with the scaphoid

From Lunate to Ulna - the lunate is positioned in line with the ulna.

Triquetral ?try lifting little finger? - the triquetral is in line with the little finger/fifth metacarpal

Pisiform, like the leaning tower of Pisa, the tiny bone leaning on the Triquetral

The Distal Row

This row of carpal bones articulates with the metacarpals. Try these associations to remember their anatomical positions:

  • Trapezium articulates with the thumb
  • Trapezoid articulates with the index finger
  • Capitate meaning ?head?, head and shoulders taller, the longest finger - capitate articulates with the middle finger/third metacarpal
  • Hamate:  a mate, a friend, friendship ring, ring finger - articulates with ring finger/fourth metacarpal

Painful Pressure

The reason the carpal bones sound familiar is due to the common condition, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). This refers to the painful symptoms associated with pressure on the median nerve within the wrist. It can be caused by repetitive hand movements and studies have shown a link between CTS and computer operators.

To learn more about the symptoms and treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome

Grasp a little more

Word associations are great for helping you learn basic pieces of information. To delve deeper into the subject, and learn more about the structure and workings of the wrist, join our Level 3 ITEC Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology Diploma course




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