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Humerus - anterior view.png
Position of humerus (shown in red)
from an anterior viewpoint
Latin humerus
Gray's p.209
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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3927 news items


Wed, 25 Nov 2015 01:07:42 -0800

Here's a quick anatomy lesson: The shoulder complex includes the humerus, clavicle, thoracic region of your spine, rib cage, and perhaps most importantly, your scapula (or shoulder blade). The upside to all this complexity is a huge range of motion in ...

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Wed, 25 Nov 2015 04:00:00 -0800

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Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:59:41 -0800

In May, Walsh fell from a 12-foot ladder and badly injured his right arm, fracturing the humerus in three places and severely damaging his elbow and shoulder. A hospital stint and two surgeries followed, and the 67-year-old is due another operation ...

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Tue, 24 Nov 2015 11:23:52 -0800

Whose arm is it anyway? That question—whether the club or the player controls when and how much a pitcher throws—may have reached a tipping point this year with the very public intervention of agent Scott Boras into the innings-limit sagas of clients ...

Christian Post

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Wed, 25 Nov 2015 04:56:15 -0800

Another indication that she sits between chimps and humans is her arms," the MailOnline article described. "The length of her humerus to femur is 84 percent, which compares to 71.8 percent for humans and 97.8 percent for chimpanzees," it added.
Village News Online
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:52:30 -0800

The upper arm bone, the humerus, has a rounded end that sits on the small and concave surface of the shoulder blade or scapula. Ligaments and muscles are strategically placed to keep the shoulder joint in place. This configuration allows the arm a wide ...

Daily Mail

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Tue, 24 Nov 2015 05:15:10 -0800

On this day in 1974, the 3.2 million-year-old fossil of a female skeleton named AL 288-1 or 'Lucy' was unearthed in Ethiopia - and it would later change our understanding of the origins of mankind. To mark the 41st anniversary of this discovery, Google ...

New Jersey Herald

New Jersey Herald
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 16:29:14 -0800

"We know of a young man in Edison who received his corneas, someone he received his heart valves, and a little girl named Bella who has his humerus bone and tissue," Laura D'Amico said. "The mom wants us all to meet when her daughter gets better, ...

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