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Humerus - anterior view.png
Position of humerus (shown in red)
from an anterior viewpoint
Latin humerus
MeSH A02.835.
TA A02.4.04.001
FMA 13303
Anatomical terms of bone

The humerus (/ˈhjmərəs/, Plural: humeri) is a long bone in the arm or forelimb that runs from the shoulder to the elbow. It connects the scapula and the two bones of the lower arm, the radius and ulna, and consists of three sections. The upper extremity consists of a rounded head, a narrow neck, and two short processes (tubercles, sometimes called tuberosities). Its body is cylindrical in its upper portion, and more prismatic below. The lower extremity consists of 2 epicondyles, 2 processes (trochlea & capitulum), and 3 fossae (radial fossa, coronoid fossa, and olecranon fossa). As well as its true anatomical neck, the constriction below the greater and lesser tubercles of the humerus is referred to as its surgical neck due to its tendency to commonly get fractured, thus often becoming the focus of surgeons.


The word "humerus" is derived from Latin: humerus, umerus meaning upper arm, shoulder, and is linguistically related to Gothic ams shoulder and Greek ōmos.[1]



At the shoulder, the head of the humerus articulates with the glenoid fossa of the scapula. More distally, at the elbow, the capitulum of the humerus articulates with the head of the radius, and the trochlea of the humerus articulates with the trochlear notch of the ulna.

Diagram of the human shoulder joint 
The left shoulder and acromioclavicular joints, and the proper ligaments of the scapula. 
Head of humerus 
The supinator


The axillary nerve is located at the proximal end, against the shoulder girdle. Dislocation of the humerus's glenohumeral joint, has the potential to injure the axillary nerve or the axillary artery. Signs and symptoms of this dislocation include a loss of the normal shoulder contour and a palpable depression under the acromion.

The radial nerve follows the humerus closely. At the midshaft of the humerus, the radial nerve travels from the posterior to the anterior aspect of the bone in the spiral groove. A fracture of the humerus in this region can result in radial nerve injury.

The ulnar nerve at the distal end of the humerus near the elbow is sometimes referred to in popular culture as 'the funny bone'. Striking this nerve can cause a tingling sensation ("funny" feeling), and sometimes a significant amount of pain. It lies posterior to the medial epicondyle, and is easily damaged in elbow injuries.[2]

Horizontal section at the middle of upper arm
Horizontal section of upper arm. 


Muscular attachment[edit]

The deltoid originates on the lateral third of the clavicle, acromion and the crest of the spine of the scapula. It is inserted on the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus and has several actions including abduction, extension, and circumduction of the shoulder. The supraspinatus also originates on the spine of the scapula. It inserts on the greater tubercle of the humerus, and assists in abduction of the shoulder.

The pectoralis major, teres major, and latissimus dorsi insert at the intertubercular groove of the humerus. They work to adduct and medially, or internally, rotate the humerus.

The infraspinatus and teres minor insert on the greater tubercle, and work to laterally, or externally, rotate the humerus. In contrast, the subscapularis muscle inserts onto the lesser tubercle and works to medially, or internally, rotate the humerus.

The biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis (which attaches distally) act to flex the elbow. (The biceps do not attach to the humerus.) The triceps brachii and anconeus extend the elbow, and attach to the posterior side of the humerus.

The four muscles of supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis form a musculo-ligamentous girdle called the rotator cuff. This cuff stabilizes the very mobile but inherently unstable glenohumeral joint. The other muscles are used as counterbalances for the actions of lifting/pulling and pressing/pushing.

Left humerus. Anterior view.
Humerus ant (mirroed).png Left humerus - anterior view.png Left humerus - close-up - animation - stop at anterior view.gif HumerusFront.png Human left humerus - anterior view - muscles.svg A. Supraspinatus muscle
B. Latissimus dorsi muscle
C. Pectoralis major muscle
D. Deltoid muscle
E. Brachioradialis
F. Extensor carpi radialis longus muscle
G. Common extensor tendon
H. Subscapularis muscle
I. Teres major muscle
J. Coracobrachialis muscle
K. Brachialis muscle
L. Pronator teres muscle
M. Common flexor tendon
Left humerus. Posterior view.
Humerus post (mirroed).png Left humerus - posterior view.png Left humerus - close-up - animation - stop at posterior view.gif HumerusBack.png Gray208.png

Other animals[edit]

Primitive fossil amphibians had little, if any, shaft connecting the upper and lower extremities, making their limbs very short. In most living tetrapods, however, the humerus has a similar form to that of humans. In many reptiles and some primitive mammals, the lower extremity includes a large foramen, or opening, into which nerves and blood vessels pass.[3]

Additional images[edit]

See also[edit]


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  1. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Humerus". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Humerus". TeachMeAnatomy.net. 
  3. ^ Romer, Alfred Sherwood; Parsons, Thomas S. (1977). The Vertebrate Body. Philadelphia, PA: Holt-Saunders International. pp. 198–199. ISBN 0-03-910284-X. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humerus — Please support Wikipedia.
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37544 videos foundNext > 

Human Anatomy Video: Humerus

A description of the humerus with all of its major landmarks such as major and minor tubercles and their respective crests, deltoid tuberosity, trochlea, capitulum ...

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Short video describing the skeletal structures of the humerus Structural markings identified: Head Anatomical neck Surgical neck Greater tubercle Lesser ...

Humerus - 3D Anatomy

www.SalmonellaPlace.com This is a tutorial/lecture on anatomy of the Humerus. We cover some topics important for classes such as anatomy, college and ...

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http://www.anatomyzone.com 3D anatomy tutorial on the features of the humerus using the BioDigital Human Browser (http://www.biodigitalhuman.com).

Proximal Humerus


Gross anatomy of the humerus including greater and lesser tubercles, deltoid tuberosity, trochlea, capitulum, medial and lateral epicondyles, olecranon fossa ...

Humerus Bone - Anatomy, Definition & Function - Human Anatomy | Kenhub

Find more videos at: https://www.kenhub.com Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/VOEG2I On this tutorial, I will do a brief introduction to the Humerus.

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Humerus Fractures - Everything You Need To Know - Dr. Nabil Ebraheim

Educational video describing humeral shaft fractures. Become a friend on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/drebraheim Follow me on twitter: ...

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37544 videos foundNext > 

8367 news items

One Foot Down

One Foot Down
Fri, 08 Apr 2016 09:41:15 -0700

In most cases, a humerus fracture is treated with a cast in an out-patient setting. In other cases, surgery is indicated when the fractured pieces cannot be realigned manually. A consideration here is muscle mass. Muscles perform their function by ...
Long Beach Press Telegram
Sat, 02 Apr 2016 12:07:30 -0700

We did some spring cleaning this weekend. I discovered that my husband has a skeleton in his closet. I slid open the closet doors, and there it was, life-sized-bones crunched into a pashimottanasana pose (for the yoga-illiterate, a seated forward bend ...


Sun, 03 Apr 2016 12:36:49 -0700

The Irish announced Sunday afternoon that Nick Watkins underwent surgery Saturday night to repair a fractured left humerus. The cornerback sustained the injury during a spring practice session earlier in the day. As a result of the injury and ...

Battle Creek Enquirer

Battle Creek Enquirer
Fri, 29 Apr 2016 08:11:15 -0700

Mason Evans thinks he can beat you in golf with one arm tied behind his back. It's not because he's cocky or overconfident, it's because he has no choice. Evans, a sophomore on the Lakeview golf team, is playing with one arm this season after breaking ...
Diagnostic Imaging
Fri, 29 Apr 2016 08:21:24 -0700

My earliest recollection of receiving an unsatisfying study is when, as a first year rad resident, I got a left humerus X-ray for history of “chest pain, radiating to left arm.” (Lest you wonder, the patient had not gotten a chest film…hopefully they ...

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Thu, 28 Apr 2016 22:03:45 -0700

Edmunds said the bird was taken to Dr. Jennifer Clarke, a veterinarian in Franklin. Clarke determined the humerus bone was broken. “In a person, it would be poking it in the ribs,” Edmunds said. It appeared the bird had been standing on the ground for ...

The Southern

The Southern
Thu, 28 Apr 2016 12:03:29 -0700

The injury, which is not expected to require surgery, involves the rotator cuff tendons at the back of the shoulder sliding against the humerus bone. Lopez went 10-0 with a 1.86 ERA in 16 starts last season. He could be a huge addition to the Miners ...

Your Houston News

Your Houston News
Thu, 28 Apr 2016 14:00:00 -0700

They also may develop in the upper arm bone (humerus). Usually, tumors develop during “growth spurts,” or periods of rapid growth in the teen years. Although osteosarcoma may appear to be in only one location in the lower leg or forearm, almost all ...

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