Hilton's law revisited

Clin Anat. 2014 May;27(4):548-55. doi: 10.1002/ca.22348. Epub 2013 Nov 22.


Hilton's Law, put forth 150 years ago, is well known and frequently taught in anatomy courses. We critically analyzed the complex description of associated muscular, cutaneous, and articular innervations in order to assess the general applicability of Hilton's Law. We applied rules for interpretation of the Law extrapolated upon but based on Hilton's original writings, and excluded obscure supplementary clauses not considered as part of the Law. We found the Law, as originally written and as we interpreted with some latitude, to be reliable and applicable to all cranial and peripheral nerves. Hilton's Law is a powerful springboard to understand articular anatomy and pathophysiology.

Keywords: arthrology; articular branch; bone; joint innervation; nerve.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy / history*
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • Joints / innervation*
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Skin / innervation