Anatomy 101: Wrist Tendons

Tendons are fibrous cords that are similar to a rope, attached to muscles and bone. The tendons that control movement in your hands, wrists and fingers run through your forearm. There are 6 tendons that help move your wrist. The wrist tendons are:

  • Flexor carpi radialis: This tendon is one of two tendons that bend the wrist.  It attaches to the base of the second and third hand bones.  It also attaches to the trapezium, one of your wrist bones.
  • Flexor carpi ulnaris: This is the other tendon that bends the wrist. It attaches to the pisiform, another wrist bone, and to the 5th hand bone.
  • Palmaris longus tendon:  This tendon is unique because only 3/4 of the population has it. For those who do have it, it can vary in size. It is, however, a tendon you can live without because it has very little function in the hand and wrist. This tendon is often used to repair other tendons since it serves such a small purpose.
  • Extensor carpi radialis brevis: This is one of 3 tendons (along with the next two on this list) that work together to bend back the wrist. It starts in the forearm and travels to the thumb side of the wrist, attaching to the base of the hand bones.
  • Extensor carpi radialis longus: This is the second tendon that works to bend back the wrist. It also helps bend the wrist in the direction of the thumb.
  • Extensor carpi ulnaris: This tendon works with the ECRB and ECRL to straighten the wrist.  It differs from these other two tendons in that it moves the wrist in the direction of the pinky rather than the thumb.

You can read more about wrist tendons and the anatomy of the upper extremity, and view anatomy photos at You can also learn about common hand/finger, wrist, arm and shoulder conditions or injuries.

Find a hand surgeon near you
Using this search tool means you agree to the user agreement and disclaimer.