A Brief Introduction to the Upper Limb

The upper limb is the region of the skeleton that is known for its mobility and dexterity. It is the area of the skeleton that is able to grasp, strike and conduct fine motor skills. It is supported and stabilized by various muscles attached to the ribs and vertebrae. The upper limb consists of  four major parts:

These areas can be sub-divided into various regions, which we will discuss later.


The shoulder is the  proximal region of the  the upper limb that attaches the trunk to the neck. It consists of 3 bones:

  • Clavicle
  • Scapula
  • Humerus

The clavicle and the scapula form the pectoral (shoulder) girdle. The pectoral girdle is a bony ring that connects the upper limb to the axial skeleton.


The arm is the longest  and first segment of the upper limb. It extends from the shoulder to the level of the elbow. It consists of the humerus and has a posterior and anterior compartment.


The forearm is said to be the second longest segment of the upper limb. It extends from the elbow and the wrist. It is composed of an anterior and posterior compartment. It  contains two bones:

  • Ulna
  • Radius


As we move distal from the forearm we have the hand.  It is composed of the:

  • Wrist
  • Palm
  • Dorsum of the hand
  • digits

The hand is unique because it is important in order for us to grasp things and detect pain and temperature due the the  rich supply of sensory nerve endings. The along contains of 27 bones in our bodies. In the next sections we will talk about the bones of the upper limb.

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