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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bone: Humerus
Illu upper extremity.jpg
Upper extremity
Gray's subject #51 209
MeSH Humerus

The humerus (ME from Latin humerus, umerus upper arm, shoulder; Gothic ams shoulder, Greek ōmos) is a long bone in the arm or forelimb that runs from the shoulder to the elbow.

Anatomically, it connects the scapula and the lower arm (consisting of the radius and ulna), and consists of the following three sections:


Muscles attached to the humerus

  • The deltoid originates on the lateral third of the clavicle, acromion and the spine of the scapula, it is inserted on the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus and has several actions including abduction, extension, and rotation of the shoulder. The supraspinatus also originates on the spine of the scapula, inserts on the greater tubercle of the humerus, and assists in abduction of the shoulder.
  • The infraspinatus and teres minor insert on the greater tubercle, and work to laterally, or externally, rotate the humerus.
  • The subscapularis muscle inserts onto the lesser tubercle and works to medially, or internally, rotate the humerus.
  • Taken together, the four muscles of supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis form a musculo-ligamentous girdle called the rotator cuff which stabilises the very mobile but inherently unstable glenohumeral joint.


  • Proximally,the head of the humerus articulates with the glenoid fossa of the scapula.
  • Distally, the capitulum of the humerus articulates with the head of the radius, and the trochlea of the humerus articulates with the olecranon process of the ulna.


The most common type of shoulder dislocation is an anterior or inferior dislocation of the humerus of the glenohumeral joint. This dislocation has the potential to injure the axillary nerve or 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.

In other animals

Primitive fossil amphibians had little, if any, shaft connecting the upper and lower extremities, making their limbs very short. In most living vertebrates, however, the humerus has an approximately 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.[1]

Additional images

Diagram of the human shoulder joint  
Human arm bones diagram  
Humerus (right) - anterior view  
Humerus (right) - posterior view  
Left humerus. Anterior view.  
Left humerus. Posterior view.  
The left shoulder and acromioclavicular joints, and the proper ligaments of the scapula.  
Cross-section through the middle of upper arm.  
The Supinator.  


  1. ^ Romer, Alfred Sherwood; Parsons, Thomas S. (1977). The Vertebrate Body. Philadelphia, PA: Holt-Saunders International. pp. 198–199. ISBN 0-03-910284-X. 

This article was originally based on an entry from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. As such, some of the information contained within it may be outdated.


Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

The Humerus is the bone in the Arm. It is the largest bone in the upper limb. Its smooth, ball-like head articulates with the glenoid cavity of the scapula. close to the head are the greater and lesser tubercles for the insersion of the muscles that surround and move the shoulder joint. The greater and lesser tubercles are seperated from each other by the intertubercular groove, in which lies the tendon of the long head of the biceps brachii muscle. The head is seperated from the tubercles by the anatomical neck. Distal to the anatomical neck is the surgical neck which is the most frequent fracture site of the proximal end of the humerus.

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|200px|The human arm]]

The humerus is the upper forearm bone in tetrapods. It connects to the shoulder blade (scapula) at the upper end, and the elbow below.


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