Interosseous Membrane: Functional Anatomy

The Interosseous membrane is a strong fibrous sheet of connective tissue that acts as a long ligamentous membrane between two bones, also known as a syndesmosis joint. These membranes travel from proximal (high) to distal (lower) in an oblique direction and create a natural anatomical divider between the compartments of the forearm and lower leg.

Forearm Interosseous Membrane

The upper interosseous membrane is a membrane that connects the radius and ulnar together and provides functional stability for the forearm. It serves as an anatomic barrier between the anterior and posterior compartments.  This ligamentous membrane has a passageway for the anterior interosseus nerve and anterior interosseous artery on its path to innervate a group of forearm flexors. Injury to the forearm interosseous membrane generally occurs by a fall on an outstretched hand.

The Interosseous Membrane Of The Leg

The Lower or distal interosseous membrane spans between the tibia and fibula and divides the lower leg into compartments and provides an anchor point for several muscles of the distal leg to attach. The deep peroneal nerve travels through the interosseous membrane to supply the extensors of the leg.

This membrane can be injured when the joints experience high stress during a sudden twisting motion. This often occurs when an athlete is wearing cleats, and the ankle is forced violently outwards. This is known as a syndesmotic ankle sprain or a high ankle sprain.

Interosseous Membrane Injuries

An injury to the interosseous membrane can alter the function and anatomic stability of either the forearm or the leg. Membrane injury can cause fibrous (scar tissue), instability of both the joints and the muscles that attach to them.

Injuries can cause ossification or the need for a surgical release of scar tissue known as tenolysis. Entrapment of the nerve or artery can occur as well causing strength loss, numbness, or tingling.


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