The Ulna Bone

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Source: OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology

OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology

The ulna is the medial bone of the forearm. It runs parallel to the radius, which is the lateral bone of the forearm. The proximal end of the ulna resembles a crescent wrench with its large, C-shaped trochlear notch. This region articulates with the trochlea of the humerus as part of the elbow joint. The inferior margin of the trochlear notch is formed by a prominent lip of bone called the coronoid process of the ulna. Just below this on the anterior ulna is a roughened area called the ulnar tuberosity. To the lateral side and slightly inferior to the trochlear notch is a small, smooth area called the radial notch of the ulna. This area is the site of articulation between the proximal radius and the ulna, forming the proximal radioulnar joint. The posterior and superior portions of the proximal ulna make up the olecranon process, which forms the bony tip of the elbow.

More distal is the shaft of the ulna. The lateral side of the shaft forms a ridge called the interosseous border of the ulna. This is the line of attachment for the interosseous membrane of the forearm, a sheet of dense connective tissue that unites the ulna and radius bones. The small, rounded area that forms the distal end is the head of the ulna. Projecting from the posterior side of the ulnar head is the styloid process of the ulna, a short bony projection. This serves as an attachment point for a connective tissue structure that unites the distal ends of the ulna and radius.

In the anatomical position, with the elbow fully extended and the palms facing forward, the arm and forearm do not form a straight line. Instead, the forearm deviates laterally by 5–15 degrees from the line of the arm. This deviation is called the carrying angle. It allows the forearm and hand to swing freely or to carry an object without hitting the hip. The carrying angle is larger in females to accommodate their wider pelvis.


Betts, J. G., Young, K. A., Wise, J. A., Johnson, E., Poe, B., Kruse, D. H., … DeSaix, P. (n.d.). Anatomy and Physiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: