|Anatomical terms of bone|
The humerus (//; PL: humeri) is a long bone in the arm 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 humeral upper extremity consists of a rounded head, a narrow neck, and two short processes (tubercles, sometimes called tuberosities). The 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 fracture, 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.
The upper or proximal extremity of the humerus consists of the bone's large rounded head joined to the body by a constricted portion called the neck, and two eminences, the greater and lesser tubercles.
The head (caput humeri), is nearly hemispherical in form. It is directed upward, medialward, and a little backward, and articulates with the glenoid cavity of the scapula to form the glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint). The circumference of its articular surface is slightly constricted and is termed the anatomical neck, in contradistinction to a constriction below the tubercles called the surgical neck which is frequently the seat of fracture. Fracture of the anatomical neck rarely occurs. The diameter of the humeral head is generally larger in men than in women.
Main article: Anatomical neck of the humerus
The anatomical neck (collum anatomicum) is obliquely directed, forming an obtuse angle with the body. It is best marked in the lower half of its circumference; in the upper half it is represented by a narrow groove separating the head from the tubercles. The line separating the head from the rest of the upper end is called the anatomical neck. It affords attachment to the articular capsule of the shoulder-joint, and is perforated by numerous vascular foramina. Fracture of the anatomical neck rarely occurs.
The anatomical neck of the humerus is an indentation distal to the head of the humerus on which the articular capsule attaches.
Main article: Surgical neck of the humerus
The surgical neck is a narrow area distal to the tubercles that is a common site of fracture. It makes contact with the axillary nerve and the posterior humeral circumflex artery.
Main article: Greater tubercle
The greater tubercle (tuberculum majus; greater tuberosity) is a large, posteriorly placed projection that is placed laterally. The greater tubercle is where supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor muscles are attached. The crest of the greater tubercle forms the lateral lip of the bicipital groove and is the site for insertion of pectoralis major.
The greater tubercle is just lateral to the anatomical neck. Its upper surface is rounded and marked by three flat impressions: the highest of these gives insertion to the supraspinatus muscle; the middle to the infraspinatus muscle; the lowest one, and the body of the bone for about 2.5 cm. below it, to the teres minor muscle. The lateral surface of the greater tubercle is convex, rough, and continuous with the lateral surface of the body.
Main article: Lesser tubercle
The lesser tubercle (tuberculum minus; lesser tuberosity) is smaller, anterolaterally placed to the head of the humerus. The lesser tubercle provides insertion to subscapularis muscle. Both these tubercles are found in the proximal part of the shaft. The crest of the lesser tubercle forms the medial lip of the bicipital groove and is the site for insertion of teres major and latissimus dorsi muscles.
The lesser tuberosity, is more prominent than the greater: it is situated in front, and is directed medialward and forward. Above and in front it presents an impression for the insertion of the tendon of the subscapularis muscle.
The tubercles are separated from each other by a deep groove, the bicipital groove (intertubercular groove; bicipital sulcus), which lodges the long tendon of the biceps brachii muscle and transmits a branch of the anterior humeral circumflex artery to the shoulder-joint. It runs obliquely downward, and ends near the junction of the upper with the middle third of the bone. In the fresh state its upper part is covered with a thin layer of cartilage, lined by a prolongation of the synovial membrane of the shoulder-joint; its lower portion gives insertion to the tendon of the latissimus dorsi muscle. It is deep and narrow above, and becomes shallow and a little broader as it descends. Its lips are called, respectively, the crests of the greater and lesser tubercles (bicipital ridges), and form the upper parts of the anterior and medial borders of the body of the bone.
|Body of humerus|
|Anatomical terms of bone|
The body or shaft of the humerus is triangular to cylindrical in cut section and is compressed anteroposteriorly. It has 3 surfaces, namely:
Its three borders are:
The Deltoid tuberosity is a roughened surface on the lateral surface of the shaft of the Humerus and acts as the site of insertion of deltoideus muscle. The posterorsuperior part of the shaft has a crest, beginning just below the surgical neck of the humerus and extends till the superior tip of the deltoid tuberosity. This is where the lateral head of triceps brachii is attached.
The radial sulcus, also known as the spiral groove is found on the posterior surface of the shaft and is a shallow oblique groove through which the radial nerve passes along with deep vessels. This is located posteroinferior to the deltoid tuberosity. The inferior boundary of the spiral groove is continuous distally with the lateral border of the shaft.
The nutrient foramen of the humerus is located in the anteromedial surface of the humerus. The nutrient arteries enter the humerus through this foramen.
|Lower extremity of humerus|
|Latin||Extremitas distalis humeri|
|Anatomical terms of bone|
The distal or lower extremity of the humerus is flattened from before backward, and curved slightly forward; it ends below in a broad, articular surface, which is divided into two parts by a slight ridge. Projecting on either side are the lateral and medial epicondyles.
The articular surface extends a little lower than the epicondyles, and is curved slightly forward; its medial extremity occupies a lower level than the lateral. The lateral portion of this surface consists of a smooth, rounded eminence, named the capitulum of the humerus; it articulates with the cup-shaped depression on the head of the radius, and is limited to the front and lower part of the bone.
Above the front part of the trochlea is a small depression, the coronoid fossa, which receives the coronoid process of the ulna during flexion of the forearm.
Above the back part of the trochlea is a deep triangular depression, the olecranon fossa, in which the summit of the olecranon is received in extension of the forearm.
The coronoid fossa is the medial hollow part on the anterior surface of the distal humerus. The coronoid fossa is smaller than the olecranon fossa and receives the coronoid process of the ulna during maximum flexion of the elbow.
Above the front part of the capitulum is a slight depression, the radial fossa, which receives the anterior border of the head of the radius, when the forearm is flexed.
These fossæ are separated from one another by a thin, transparent lamina of bone, which is sometimes perforated by a supratrochlear foramen; they are lined in the fresh state by the synovial membrane of the elbow-joint, and their margins afford attachment to the anterior and posterior ligaments of this articulation.
The Capitulum is a rounded eminence forming the lateral part of the distal humerus. The head of the radius articulates with the capitulum.
The trochlea is spool-shaped medial portion of the distal humerus and articulates with the ulna.
The epicondyles are continuous above with the supracondylar ridges.
The Medial supracondylar crest forms the sharp medial border of the distal humerus continuing superiorly from the medial epicondyle. The Lateral Supracondylar crest forms the sharp lateral border of the distal humerus continuing superiorly from the lateral epicondyle.
The medial portion of the articular surface is named the trochlea, and presents a deep depression between two well-marked borders; it is convex from before backward, concave from side to side, and occupies the anterior, lower, and posterior parts of the extremity.
The grooved portion of the articular surface fits accurately within the semilunar notch of the ulna; it is broader and deeper on the posterior than on the anterior aspect of the bone, and is inclined obliquely downward and forward toward the medial side.
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.
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 lies at the distal end of the humerus near the elbow. When struck, it can cause a distinct tingling sensation, and sometimes a significant amount of pain. It is sometimes popularly referred to as 'the funny bone', possibly due to this sensation (a "funny" feeling), as well as the fact that the bone's name is a homophone of 'humorous'. It lies posterior to the medial epicondyle, and is easily damaged in elbow injuries.
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.
Primitive fossils of 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 mammals (where it is the primitive state), the lower extremity includes a large opening called the entepicondylar foramen to allow the passage of nerves and blood vessels.
Position of humerus (shown in red). Animation.
Left humerus. Animation.
Human arm bones diagram.
Humerus - inferior epiphysis. Anterior view.
Trochlea. Posterior view.
Humerus - inferior epiphysis. Posterior view.
Humerus - superior epiphysis. Anterior view.
Humerus - superior epiphysis. Posterior view.
Elbow joint. Deep dissection. Anterior view.
Elbow joint. Deep dissection. Posterior view.
Elbow joint. Deep dissection. Posterior view.
The left shoulder and acromioclavicular joints, and the proper ligaments of the scapula
Left humerus. Anterior view.
Left humerus. Posterior view.
Left humerus. Anteriolateral view.
Left humerus. Medial view.
Fracture of the proximal humerus
Left elbow-joint, showing anterior and ulnar collateral ligaments.
Capsule of elbow-joint (distended). Posterior aspect.
Further information: ossification
During embryonic development, the humerus is one of the first structures to ossify, beginning with the first ossification center in the shaft of the bone. Ossification of the humerus occurs predictably in the embryo and fetus, and is therefore used as a fetal biometric measurement when determining gestational age of a fetus. At birth, the neonatal humerus is only ossified in the shaft. The epiphyses are cartilaginous at birth. The medial humeral head develops an ossification center around 4 months of age and the greater tuberosity around 10 months of age. These ossification centers begin to fuse at 3 years of age. The process of ossification is complete by 13 years of age, though the epiphyseal plate (growth plate) persists until skeletal maturity, usually around 17 years of age.