Muscles in the Elbow

By Lisa Chekanowsky

Elbow muscles help us move our arms and lift items. There are many muscles that work together to help the elbow function.

Woman flexing elbow

Muscles in the Elbow

Elbow anatomy

The elbow is a joint (point of articulation that allows movement) comprised of three main bones: the humerus (upper arm), radius, and ulna.  The elbow joint and articulation between the radius and ulna provide a variety of upper extremity motions including:

    • Flexion – Bending elbow 
    • Extension – Straightening elbow 
    • Pronation – Turning forearm palm down
    • Supination – Turning forearm palm up

These upper extremity movement can occur via the attachment of muscles that cross the elbow joint. All muscles have sites of two mains points of attachment known as the origin and insertion.  The origin is typically proximal (closest) to the trunk of the body and has limited motion, whereas the insertion tends to be distal (farther away from the body) and has more movement 

Primary Muscles of the Elbow

Muscles of the elbow include triceps, biceps, and several other important muscles.

Elbow anatomy

Biceps Brachii 

The biceps brachii crosses both the elbow and shoulder joint – however, this muscle’s primary function is elbow flexion.  This muscle secondary activation is to assist in shoulder flexion

Triceps Brachii 

The triceps brachii, just like the biceps brachii crosses both the elbow and shoulder joint as well but is located along the posterior aspect of the arm. This muscle’s primary function is elbow extension but also helps assist extension of the shoulder


The brachioradialis muscle is located from the elbow and inserts into the forearm area. This muscle helps assist with the biceps brachii to flex the elbow


The brachialis muscle is located at the distal half of the humerus and inserts into the forearm. This muscle performs elbow flexion and is considered the prime flexor of the forearm at the elbow joint


The anconeus is a smaller muscle, triangular in shape. This muscle is located along the outside of the elbow, lateral epicondyle, and inserts into the posterior aspect of the elbow (ulna bone). Muscle serves to help the elbow extend 


The supinator is a spiral muscle located along the posterior aspect of the forearm. This muscle performs supination of the forearm/elbow. Supination of the elbow is when the palm is facing upwards. An example of when using supination would be turning a screwdriver or turning a key

What does JOI have to offer?

JOI has a dedicated team of physicians that are dedicated to your orthopedic treatment. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above and would like to see a physician regarding this, JOI offers six different MD locations and they are located throughout the northeast Florida area. 

Call JOI-2000 if you have any questions!

JOI Fracture and Injury Care

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP fracture and injury care. Further, this is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000.

Please do not hesitate to call JOI for your medical needs. Further, we have surgeons that can help diagnosis your tear and therapy staff waiting to help rehab you back to full health! Please call JOI-2000 or click the banner below to schedule with one of our specialists.


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Written by: Lisa Chekanowsky

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