What Is the Function of the Pivot Joint?

The function of a pivot joint is to allow the part of the body attached to the bone that articulates with the joint to rotate. The human body has several pivot joints.

The atlanto-axial joint allows a person to turn their head from side to side. This joint is a complex structure found at the top of the neck between a person’s first and second vertebrae. These cervical vertebrae are called the axis and the atlas. The atlanto-axial joint is kept in place by four ligaments: the articular capsules, the anterior and posterior atlantoaxial ligaments and the transverse ligament of the atlas.

The proximal radioulnar joint, which is found in the elbow, allows the arms to perform outward and inward rotation. It operates in tandem with the distal radioulnar joint. There is a separation between this joint and the carpal joints found in the hand. This allows the hand to pronate and supinate. In the former, the palm faces downward and inward. In the latter, the palm faces upward and outward.

As with the atlanto-axial joint, ligaments ensure that the radioulnar joints are secure and work the way they should. These ligaments include the palmar and dorsal radioulnar ligaments and the articular disk.