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Condyle vs. Epicondyle: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 10, 2023
Condyle refers to a round bump on a bone where it forms a joint with another bone. Epicondyle refers to a bump near or upon a condyle, often serving for muscle attachment.

Key Differences

Condyle is a term originating from the Greek language, with its root meaning referring to a “knuckle.” Anatomically, a condyle is a rounded protuberance at the end of a bone, often part of a joint, enabling articulation with an adjacent bone. In contrast, the epicondyle, whose prefix "epi-" in Greek translates to "upon" or "above," refers to a bony prominence that is positioned proximal or upon a condyle. Epicondyles, while proximal to joints, do not directly participate in articulation.
Condyle formations are pivotal for enabling movement by forming joints. Various bones throughout the body, like the femur, tibia, and humerus, exhibit condyles that articulate with adjacent bones, facilitating various motions in different anatomical regions. Epicondyles, though situated near joints, are not directly involved in the actual joint formation or direct articulation between bones. Instead, they serve as sites for muscle and ligament attachment, which can influence joint stability and movement indirectly.
Condyles are not merely structural; they play a crucial role in biomechanics and health. When investigating joint disorders or damage, medical professionals closely examine condyles for signs of wear, injury, or degenerative changes. Conversely, epicondyles often come into focus when exploring issues related to muscle attachments or specific conditions like golfer's or tennis elbow, which involve inflammation of the area around the epicondyle, without directly implicating joint integrity.
In paleontology and anthropology, condyles provide crucial insights into species' movement and evolutionary adaptations. On the other hand, epicondyles may offer valuable data regarding muscular and tendon developments throughout evolutionary history, shedding light on the functional adaptations of extinct species.
Although condyles and epicondyles are anatomically related and proximal, their functional and clinical significances are distinctly unique. Condyles’ primary involvement in joint formation contrasts with the epicondyles’ role as auxiliary structures providing attachment sites for muscles and ligaments, each influencing human movement and clinical pathology in its way.

Comparison Chart


A rounded protrusion at the end of a bone, typically at a joint, which allows for articulation with another bone.
A prominence above or on a condyle, generally serving as a place of attachment for ligaments and tendons.


Located directly at the joint surface, participating in the formation of the joint.
Located above or near a condyle, but not involved in the joint formation.


Involved in forming a joint and facilitating the articulation between bones.
Serves as an attachment site for muscles and ligaments but does not participate in joint formation.

Shape & Size

Generally smooth and rounded to allow for the movement of adjacent bones.
Typically smaller and rougher due to its role as an attachment site.

Examples in Body

Femoral condyles in the knee, mandibular condyle in the jaw.
Medial and lateral epicondyles of the femur in the knee, medial and lateral epicondyles of the humerus in the elbow.

Condyle and Epicondyle Definitions


A condyle is a rounded protrusion at the end of a bone.
The femur has a medial and lateral condyle that articulate with the tibia.


An epicondyle is a projection situated above a condyle on a bone.
The medial epicondyle of the humerus is notable for tendon attachments.


In some bones, condyles can be primary landmarks.
The lateral condyle of the femur is a crucial landmark for knee anatomy.


Epicondyles can be medial or lateral depending on their location.
The medial epicondyle is on the inner side of the humerus.


Condyles are significant for biomechanical movement.
The condyle allows hinge-like motion in the knee.


Epicondyles primarily serve as attachment sites for muscles.
Muscles of the forearm originate from the epicondyle of the humerus.


Condyles may exhibit variations in shape and size.
The occipital condyle articulates with the first cervical vertebra.


Epicondyles can be palpable and are clinically relevant.
Tenderness over the lateral epicondyle might suggest tennis elbow.


Condyles often form articulating surfaces of joints.
The condyle of the mandible facilitates jaw movement.


Epicondyles are not directly involved in joint articulation.
The epicondyle assists in stabilizing the elbow joint indirectly through muscle attachments.


A rounded prominence at the end of a bone, most often for articulation with another bone.


A rounded projection at the end of a bone, located on or above a condyle and usually serving as a place of attachment for ligaments and tendons.


(anatomy) A smooth prominence on a bone where it forms a joint with another bone.


(anatomy) A protuberance above the condyle of a bone to which ligaments or tendons are attached.


A bony prominence; particularly, an eminence at the end of a bone bearing a rounded articular surface; - sometimes applied also to a concave articular surface.


A projection on the inner side of the distal end of the humerus; the internal condyle.


A round bump on a bone where it forms a joint with another bone


A projection on a bone above a condyle serving for the attachment of muscles and ligaments


Is the condyle involved in movement?

Yes, condyles often facilitate movement by forming articulating surfaces of joints.

Are epicondyles always located above condyles?

Typically, yes. Epicondyles are usually situated above or upon condyles, providing muscle and ligament attachment points.

Can physical therapy assist in managing epicondyle-related issues?

Yes, physical therapy can play a crucial role in managing and rehabilitating epicondyle-related issues, such as tennis elbow.

Do muscles attach directly to the condyle?

Generally, muscles attach to the epicondyle, while the condyle is primarily involved in forming the joint with an adjacent bone.

Is there a difference in the occurrence of condyles in various bones?

Yes, condyles are present in numerous bones and differ in shape and functionality, such as in the femur, tibia, and mandible.

Can epicondyle pain impact overall limb function?

Yes, pain in the epicondyle can affect the muscles attached to it, potentially impacting the function of the entire limb.

What is a condyle?

A condyle is a rounded bony prominence usually involved in joint articulation.

Can you provide an example of a well-known epicondyle issue?

Certainly, "tennis elbow" is a common condition related to the lateral epicondyle of the humerus.

Do both the medial and lateral epicondyles serve the same function?

Both serve as muscle attachment points but for different muscle groups, and issues related to them may present different clinical conditions.

Can inflammation occur in the epicondyle?

Yes, inflammation can occur, commonly seen in conditions like medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow) or lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow).

Are there specific diseases related to condyles?

Yes, condylar conditions can include osteoarthritis, fractures, and other joint disorders.

How does a fractured condyle affect joint function?

A fractured condyle can severely impact joint mobility and may cause pain, swelling, and restricted movement.

How is a condyle different in the knee and jaw?

In the knee, condyles are involved in hinge-like motion, whereas in the jaw, the mandibular condyle allows for various motions like opening, closing, and sliding.

What kind of tissues connect with epicondyles?

Epicondyles primarily serve as attachment points for muscles and ligaments, facilitating movement and providing joint stability.

Is the shape of the condyle essential for joint stability?

Absolutely, the shape and integrity of a condyle are crucial for stable and functional joint articulation.

How does an epicondyle differ from a condyle?

While a condyle forms a joint, an epicondyle is a bony prominence above or on the condyle, often serving as a muscle attachment point.

What is the role of an epicondyle?

An epicondyle primarily serves as an attachment site for muscles and ligaments.

Can injuries occur to condyles?

Yes, condyles can be susceptible to injuries or degeneration, impacting joint function.

Is condyle degeneration common in elderly populations?

Yes, condyle degeneration, particularly in weight-bearing joints like the knee, can be common and is often associated with osteoarthritis.

What role do condyles play in forensic studies?

Condyles can be vital in forensic studies, providing insights into age, species, and sometimes cause of death in skeletal remains.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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