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Humerus - anterior view.png
Position of humerus (shown in red). Anterior view.
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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3592 news items

Herald & Review
Sat, 03 Oct 2015 02:01:26 -0700

11, Shelby was arrested on a charge of aggravated battery to a child/great bodily harm for breaking the left humerus, the upper arm bone, of a 2-year-old. After giving two other explanations in that case, Shelby told police he “jerked the child toward ...

News Ledge

News Ledge
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 09:33:15 -0700

Meanwhile Bunostegos' humerus is not twisted like those of sprawlers. In a sprawler, the twist is what could allow the humerus to jut out to the side at the shoulder and then orient the forearm downward from the elbow. But the humerus of Bunostegos has ...

The San Diego Union-Tribune

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 18:22:23 -0700

Also collected were a 42-inch-long mammoth humerus bone — the equivalent of a human's upper arm bone — and a fully articulated mammoth foot, though it's unknown whether the foot and the humerus were from the same animal. Other fossils include an ...

CBS News

CBS News
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 14:35:05 -0700

Lein, sporting a sling on his right arm with a bandage sticking out slightly from his long-sleeve yellow shirt, said the bullet hit his right ulna and humerus bones before deflecting into his rib. The bullet fell out when he took off his shirt, he said ...

Adventist Review

Adventist Review
Fri, 02 Oct 2015 15:36:14 -0700

The x-rays showed a “fracture, though the surgical neck of the right humerus with mild impaction of the shaft into the rotated humeral head.” There was “no dislocation of the humeral head.” I would not need surgery. No other fractures were seen. How ...
Black Hills Pioneer
Fri, 02 Oct 2015 10:37:33 -0700

Lein, sporting a sling on his right arm with a bandage sticking out from his yellow shirt, said the bullet hit his right ulna and humerus bones before deflecting into his rib. The bullet fell out when he took off his shirt, he said. Buhl's father told ...
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From athlete appearances with CT Fletcher, Nick Wright, Jason "Big J" English, Humerus Fitness, Jerry Ward, and Siera Capesius, to inspirational and educational articles and videos in Real Solutions for Iron Warriors online magazine. iSatori thrives on ...
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