Styloid Process: What is it? Function, Processes and Treatment of Injuries

It is a projection of the bone or a small bony protrusion.

The styloid process, or styloid process, is a small, pointed bony prominence extending from a bone that acts as an anchoring site for muscles and ligaments.

Although it is a small projection, it plays a vital role as an anchor for various muscles.

There are several examples in the human skeleton, including one in the temporal bone of the skull, one each in the radius and ulna in the lower arm, and one in the fifth metatarsal of the foot, which is more commonly referred to as the tuberosity of the fifth metatarsal.


In addition to serving as a muscle attachment point, the styloid process can also serve as a bone landmark in orthopedics to help determine the location of various ligaments, nerves, and other structures in the body during surgery or diagnosis.

Depending on which bone in the body shows this bony projection, it can be classified into various types.

Styloid temporal process

In the human skull, the temporal styloid process is located below the ear, extending downward from the temporal bone and pointing toward the front of the head.


The temporal bone is an irregularly shaped bone that lies precisely on each side of the skull and is an integral part of the base of the head.

It is located in the lower region of the skull and contains the delicate structures of the ear.

This spine-shaped bone acts as an attachment point for the muscles associated with the tongue and larynx.

The styloid process of the temporal bone is usually 20-30mm long, but if it exceeds its average length, this condition is generally marked by trouble moving the tongue.

Pain in the throat and during tongue movement are common complaints commonly reported by people with a long temporal styloid process.

This rare condition can also cause difficulty moving the neck, earaches, voice changes, headaches, and excessive saliva production.

In these rare cases, this bony bump becomes enlarged, which leads to a condition known as Eagle syndrome.

Its rarity and wide range of symptoms make Eagle syndrome challenging to diagnose. Still, it often results in pain in the throat and while moving the tongue because the elongated bone rubs against the ligaments and muscles during swallowing and other tongue movements: the mouth, especially the extension of the language.

Eagle syndrome can appear as a mass in the back of the throat that is sometimes mistaken for inflamed tonsils, and it is usually treated with surgery to shorten the bone to an elongated shape to reduce its contact with the abrasion and against surrounding tissues.

Ulnar process process

In the ulna styloid process, the forearm bone is located on the opposite side of the thumb.

The ulna bone runs from the elbow to the wrist but is located on the little finger side of the forearm.

The styloid process of the ulna is at the far end of the ulna, which is the end toward the wrist. This spikey growth anchors the medial and lateral ligament of the wrist.

The ulnar styloid process is usually less than 6mm in length, but if it lengthens beyond its average size, the condition is known as ulnar impact syndrome, which is typically marked by chronic wrist pain.

Radial process

The radius or radial bone is the forearm bone that runs from the elbow to the wrist and is located on the thumb side of the forearm.

The styloid process of the radial bone is located at the distal end of the forearm.

The radial bone that ends in the styloid process serves as an attachment point for the collateral ligament associated with the wrist.

Radial styloid process fracture is commonly known as a chauffeur’s fracture. It occurs when the scaphoid bone of the hand exerts excessive pressure on the styloid process of the radial bone.

This type of injury often occurs from falling onto an outstretched palm.

Styloid process of the third metacarpal

The metacarpal bones are found within the hand and extend from the wrist and connect to the bones of the fingers. They are attached to the knuckles of each finger. Although there are five metacarpal bones in hand, only the third has the styloid process.

The middle finger is connected to the wrist through the styloid process of the metacarpal bone. This styloid process in the third metacarpal bone acts as a locking mechanism between the hand and the wrist.

This process allows the thumb and fingers to put more pressure on the hand, without which it will not be possible to grasp objects and use complex tools.

Allows you to use tools with remarkable precision and skillfully.

Process of fifth metatarsal process

The metatarsal bones are long bones that meet in front of the ankle and end at the base of the toes.

This styloid process is a small bony projection extending laterally from the fifth metatarsal base.

Fracture of this styloid causes pain, redness, and localized swelling at the fifth metatarsal base.


The styloid processes generally serve as attachment points for the ligaments and tendons that extend to the muscles. These bumps can be developed like spines or more rounded and tapered.

Fracturing or over-elongation of bony protrusions can cause pain by compressing the muscles against the styloid process.

In most cases, this type of injury involves surgical removal of the styloid process or surgical treatment of fractures that involves repositioning the bone and using pins, plates, or screws to hold the fragments in place to facilitate the healing.

Mild ulnar styloid fractures often only need a primary wrist cast. The doctor may need to realign the bones in some cases before adding a form.

This process is called reduction, and it can sometimes be done without the need for an incision. Endoscopic surgery is also becoming a standard treatment option for styloid.