Anatomy of the Hand and Wrist

Amanda Thomas May 2, 2024
Nursing hands and wrists forming a heart

Raise your hand and take a closer look at it.

Do you know how many bones there are?

If not, we’ve got the answer for you! 

There are 27 bones in the human hand and wrist. These bones form the complex structure that allows us to perform various tasks like grasping objects, writing, playing an instrument, and more.

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at the anatomy of the hand and wrist. We’ll also provide some helpful tips on how to remember the bones of the hand with mnemonic devices and acronyms.

Jump to Section


  1. Hand Bones
  2. Carpal (Wrist) Bones

Hand Bones

The hand consists of several bones, each contributing to its functionality.

We will focus on the following 2 bones in the hand:

  1. Metacarpals: These five long bones form the palm. Numbered from 1 (thumb) to 5 (pinky), they provide stability and support.
  1. Phalanges: The phalanges are the finger bones. Each finger has three phalanges (except the thumb, which has two). Remember the order: proximal, middle, and distal phalanges.

Now, let’s explore some mnemonics to remember their names.

Mnemonic and Acronym for Hand Bones

Acronyms and mnemonics are helpful tools for remembering complex information.

Here are two examples to help remember the phalanges and metacarpal bones:

  • Use the acronym “PMD” for “Proximal, Middle, Distal” to remember the order of these phalanges. You can also use the phrase, “Please Make Donuts.”
  • To remember the order of the metacarpals and phalanges, use “Tommy Plays Musical Rhythms Perfectly.” Each capitalized word corresponds to one of the fingers: Thumb, Pointer, Middle, Ring, Pinky.

Carpal (Wrist) Bones

Next, let’s move on to the eight carpal bones that make up the wrists.

These tiny bones connect the hand and forearm, allowing for movement and providing support.

Here are the names of the carpal bones:

  1. Scaphoid: This boat-shaped bone sits on the thumb side of the wrist.
  2. Lunate: This crescent-shaped bone sits next to the scaphoid.
  3. Triquetrum (triquetral): Also known as the triangular bone, it’s located on the pinky side of the wrist.
  4. Pisiform: This small pea-shaped bone sits on top of the triquetrum.
  5. Hamate: This hook-shaped bone sits on the pinky side of the wrist.
  6. Capitate: The largest carpal bone, it connects to the metacarpals.
  7. Trapezoid: This four-sided bone sits next to the capitate.
  8. Trapezium: Unique in shape, this bone sits at the base of the thumb.

Now, let’s explore some mnemonics to remember their names.

Mnemonic for Carpal Bones (Proximal Row)

To help remember the carpal bones, consider the mnemonic “So Long To Pinky, Here Comes The Thumb.”

This phrase corresponds to the order of the carpal bones in the proximal row.

  1. So – Scaphoid
  2. Long – Lunate
  3. To – Triquetrum (triquetral)
  4. Pinky – Pisiform
  5. Here – Hamate
  6. Comes – Capitate
  7. The – Trapezoid
  8. Thumb – Trapezium

You can also create a mnemonic using other words or phrases that are easy to remember.

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As nursing students, mastering anatomy is crucial.

That’s why SimpleNursing offers study tips and mnemonic devices to help you remember complex anatomy concepts, like the carpal bones. Join our community of nursing students and gain access to resources that will make studying easier and more effective.

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