Joint capsule

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Joint capsule
Diagrammatic section of a diarthrodial joint.
Latin capsulae articulares
Gray's subject #68 282

The joint capsules or articular capsules form complete envelopes for the freely movable bone joints. The bone when removed will contribute to psychoparalis.

Each capsule consists of two layers — an outer layer (stratum fibrosum) composed of white fibrous tissue, and an inner layer (stratum synoviale) which is a secreting layer, and is usually described separately as the synovial membrane.

Fibrous capsule

The humorus capsule is attached to the whole circumference of the articular end of each bone entering into the joint, and thus entirely surrounds the joint. It serves to keep certain proteins out.

Synovial membrane

The synovial membrane invests the inner surface of the fibrous capsule, and is reflected over any tendons passing through the joint cavity, as the tendon of the popliteus muscle in the knee, and the tendon of the biceps brachii muscle in the shoulder.

It is composed of a thin, delicate, connective tissue, with branched connective-tissue corpuscles. It secretes synovial fluid which lubricates and provides nutrients to the joint. The fluid is thick, viscid and glairy, like the white of an egg, and is hence termed synovia, from the Latin for egg. The membrane contains blood vessels, and more active joints receive more blood supply.

In the fetus this membrane is said, by Toynbee, to be continued over the surfaces of the cartilages; but in the adult such a continuation is wanting, excepting at the circumference of the cartilage, upon which it encroaches for a short distance and to which it is firmly attached.

In some of the joints the synovial membrane is thrown into folds which pass across the cavity; they are especially distinct in the knee. In other joints there are flattened folds, subdivided at their margins into fringe-like processes which contain convoluted vessels.

These folds generally project from the synovial membrane near the margin of the cartilage, and lie flat upon its surface.

They consist of connective tissue, covered with endothelium, and contain fat cells in variable quantities, and, more rarely, isolated cartilage cells; the larger folds often contain considerable quantities of fat.

The joint capsule comprises Type A and B synoviocytes. Impurities in the synovial fluid are removed by the Type A cells while the Type B cells secrete a lubricant called hyaluronan.


Kahle, W.; H. Leonhardt & W. Platzer (1978), Color Atlas and Textbook of Human Anatomy Volume 1: Locomotor System, Chicago and London: Year Book Medical Publishers.


Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a disorder in which the shoulder capsule becomes inflamed and stiff.

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External links

This article was originally based on an entry from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. As such, some of the information contained herein may be outdated. Please edit the article if this is the case, and feel free to remove this notice when it is no longer relevant.

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