The metacarpophalangeal joints (MCP) are situated between the metacarpal bones and the proximal phalanges of the fingers. These joints are of the condyloid kind, formed by the reception of the rounded heads of the metacarpal bones into shallow cavities on the proximal ends of the proximal phalanges. Being condyloid, they allow the movements of flexion, extension, abduction, adduction and circumduction at the joint.
The palmar aspect of the hand showing the epiphyses of the hand exploded. MCP joints in red.
Each joint has:
- palmar ligaments of metacarpophalangeal articulations
- collateral ligaments of metacarpophalangeal articulations
The dorsal surfaces of these joints are covered by the expansions of the Extensor tendons, together with some loose areolar tissue which connects the deep surfaces of the tendons to the bones.
The movements which occur in these joints are flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, and circumduction; the movements of abduction and adduction are very limited, and cannot be performed while the fingers form a fist.
The muscles of flexion and extension are as follows:
|fingers||Flexor digitorum superficialis and profundus, lumbricales, and interossei, assisted in the case of the little finger by the flexor digiti minimi brevis||extensor digitorum communis, extensor indicis proprius, and extensor digiti minimi muscle|
|thumb||flexor pollicis longus and brevis||extensor pollicis longus and brevis|
In many quadrupeds, particularly horses and other larger animals, the metacarpophalangeal joint is referred to as the "fetlock". This term is translated literally as "foot-lock". In fact, although the term fetlock does not specifically apply to other species' metacarpophalangeal joints (for instance, humans), the "second" or "mid-finger" knuckle of the human hand does anatomically correspond to the fetlock on larger quadrupeds. For lack of a better term, the shortened name may seem more practical.