Synovial Joint Structure

Synovial joints are the most common type of joints in the human body. They enable a wide range of movement and all have the same basic structure.


The definition of a joint is where two bones meet. They are connected by ligaments, which are bands of strong fibrous tissue. The blood supply to ligaments is very poor. This means they do not heal quickly when torn and are generally white in appearance.

Hyaline cartilage

Also known as Articular cartilage this is a smooth, tough, shiny cartilage which covers the ends of bones. Its function is to protect the ends of the bones and help lubricate joint movement. It also absorbs synovial fluid.

Joint capsule

The joint capsule is a tough fibrous tissue which surrounds the joint. It adds strength to the joint and protects the synovial membrane underneath.

Synovial membrane

The synovial membrane is a thin membrane of epithelial cells within the joint capsule. It produces synovial fluid which lubricates the joint.

Fibrous cartilage

Synovial joint meniscus

This is a softer cartilage which is found in some joints, for example the cartilage menisci in the knee joint. The purpose of a meniscus is to add support and cushioning to the joint.


Knee bursa

A bursa is a small sac of fluid which sits between a tendon and the bone. Its purpose is to lubricate the movement of the tendon over the bone.

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