Fibrous Joints

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Chapter: Anatomy and Physiology for Health Professionals: Support and Movement: Articulations

Describe fibrous joints and list three examples.

Fibrous Joints

Fibrous Joints

Lying between bones that are in close contact with each other, fibrous joints are joined by a thin, dense connective tissue (FIGURE 8-1). They have no actual joint cavity. An example of a fibrous joint is a suture between flat bones of the skull. No real movement takes place in most fibrous joints, making them synar-throtic in classification. Those with limited movement (amphiarthrotic) include the joint between the distal tibia and fibula. The amount of movement they have depends on the length of the connective tissue fibers that unite the bones. There are three types of fibrous joints: sutures, syndesmoses, and gomphoses.


Sutures are seams that occur only between the bones of the skull. They have waved and articulated bone edges that interlock. Each junction is totally filled by a tiny amount of extremely short connective tissue fibers. These fibers are continuous with the periosteum, creat-ing rigid structures joining the bones together. However, they also allow the skull to expand during childhood, when the brain is growing. Closed sutures, during brain growth, are better described as synostoses. The immo-bility of the sutures helps to protect the brain.


In syndesmoses, ligaments connect the bones and the connecting fibers are longer than those found in sutures. The varied lengths of these fibers control the amount of movement that can occur. Syndesmoses with shorter fibers have little or no allowed “give” (movement), for example, the ligament connecting the distal ends of the fibula and tibia. When they are longer, more movement is possible, for example, the interosseous membrane (similar to a ligament) that connects the ulna and radius.


Gomphoses are fibrous joints with a peg-in-socket structure. In the human body, gomphoses are only exemplified by the articulation of the teeth in their alveolar sockets. The singular term gomphosis refers to how the teeth are embedded in their socket (as if they were hammered in) . In gomphoses, the fibrous connects are the short periodontal ligaments. Articulations of the axial skeleton are described in TABLE 8-2.

1. Describe fibrous joints and list three examples.

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