Comprehensive Guide to Arm Anatomy: Parts, Functions & Diagram

The term “arm” is widely identified in human anatomy to indicate the remarkable upper limb. However, arm anatomy and its precise purpose are limited to the intricate upper arm region, nestled between the glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint) and the enigmatic elbow joint. The segment extending from the elbow to the radiocarpal joint (wrist joint) is identified as the extraordinary forearm or “lower” arm. In the parts of arm, we discover the shoulder bones, ligaments, and skeletal muscles. They are components considered integral elements of the upper limb and are inseparable parts of the arm.

Arm Anatomy Diagram

Arm Anatomy, Parts, Names & Diagram

Anatomy of the Arm

  • Shoulder
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Forearm
  • Hand
  • Thumb
  • Fingers
  • Nails
  • Joints
    • Shoulder Joint
    • Elbow Joint
    • Wrist Joint
    • Metacarpophalangeal (MCP) Joints
    • Interphalangeal (IP) Joints

Arm Muscle Anatomy

  • Anterior Compartment Muscles:
    • Biceps brachii
    • Brachialis
    • Coracobrachialis
  • Posterior Compartment Muscles
    • Triceps brachii
    • Anconeus
  • Intrinsic Muscles

Arm Anatomy: Parts & Functions


The human shoulder comprises of 3 bones: the clavicle (collarbone), scapula (shoulder blade), and humerus (upper arm bone). These remarkable skeletal elements connect with an intricate network of muscles, ligaments, and tendons, creating a very effective shoulder joint system.

Within this system, the glenohumeral joint with the acromioclavicular joint strengthens the overall splendour. The shoulder joint allows an inseparable connection between the humerus and the scapula.

Functionally, the shoulder joint is a good ball and socket splendour, releasing the great potential of circular rotations. A hinge-like extension elevats the arm to move freely.

Shoulder Anatomy, Parts, Names & Diagram

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The exceptional biceps brachii muscle is located in the anterior compartment of the upper arm. What sets it apart is its dual-headed origin. The short head originates from the coracoid process, while the long head arises from the supraglenoid tubercle of the scapula.

Unlike typical muscles, the biceps brachii displays an exceptional capacity to traverse not one but two joints – the shoulder joint and the elbow joint. This unique characteristic facilitates interesting forearm flexion and supination actions.

The corkscrew is twisted into the cork with force by the biceps. The biceps attaches itself to the brachialis and coracobrachialis muscles to form a unique triad within the anterior compartment of the upper arm.

These muscles form a trio, bound by a shared nerve supply, forming a collaboration that enhances their collective strength.

Biceps Anatomy, Parts, Names & Diagram

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The triceps brachii, commonly known as the triceps found in an upper limb in various vertebrates. It consists of three parts: the long head, lateral head, and medial head.

The long head originates from the infra-glenoid tubercle of the scapula. It allows it to reach posteriorly, passing between the teres’ major and minor muscles in a distal direction.

The medial head arises from the humerus’s dorsal surface. It connects with the medial intermuscular septum and draws its distal portion from the lateral intermuscular septum of the humerus. It is located just below the groove of the radial nerve.

The lateral head arises from the dorsal surface of the humerus, starting from the greater tubercle and extending towards the region of the lateral intermuscular septum. Notably, the lateral head is positioned laterally and proximally to the groove of the radial nerve.

Combining these three distinct parts grants the triceps outstanding abilities in governing the elbow joint extension.


The upper limb’s forearm plays a vital role in our body. It extends from the elbow to the wrist region and encompasses the entire upper limb appendage.

The forearm comprises two lengthy bones, the radius, and ulna, which create the two radioulnar joints connected by the interosseous membrane.

The forearm is covered by skin, which is hairier on the back than on the front, and several muscles, such as wrist flexors and extensors, digit flexors and extensors, an elbow flexor (brachioradialis), and pronators and supinators, which rotate the hand downwards or upwards, respectively.

In cross-section, the forearm can be divided into two sections. The back compartment features the hand extensors that the radial nerve supplies, while the flexors occupy the front case, predominantly served by the median nerve.

The flexor muscles are more significant than the extensor muscles as they work as anti-gravity muscles by functioning against gravity.

Forearm Anatomy, Parts, Names & Diagram

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The hand is an integral part of our body, located at the end of the forearm or forelimb in primates like humans and chimpanzees, monkeys, and lemurs. It comprises five digits, including four fingers and that invaluable thumb.

Altogether, there are 27 bones in the hand, not counting the sesamoid bone, which can vary in number. These bones consist of the phalanges, and the metacarpal bones connect our fingers to the wrist’s carpal bones.

Our fingers have many nerve endings, making them one of our body’s most sensitive areas. Due to that, we have such a powerful sense of touch! This sensitivity gives us the incredible power of feedback, which is essential for our ability to feel and perform tasks with precision and finesse.

Hand Anatomy, Parts, Names & Diagram

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The human thumb is an extraordinary part of the arm anatomy that has undergone millions of years of evolution. It has two phalanges and an incredibly flexible joint, giving a wide range of movements and precise control.

Its adaptability extends beyond its physical structure, representing human creativity and ingenuity. Till now, the thumb has played an essential role in shaping human civilization by creating tools, weapons, and objects.

From the critical stone tools of our ancestors to the complex machinery of modern times, the thumb plays an important role. Its unique characteristics have significantly contributed to advancing human innovation and ingenuity over time.

Thumb Anatomy, Parts, Names, Functions & Diagram

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Fingers are essential body organs of humans for manipulation and sensation. They have undergone millions of years of evolution to get unique abilities. The finger consists of various elements like bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels.

Its structure comprises the phalanges (small bones) surrounded by muscles and tendons. These phalanges enable precise movements and intricate control, granting fingers remarkable versatility.

Finger Anatomy, Parts, Names, Functions & Diagram

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Nails are a defining characteristic of primates, being flattish, claw-like plates found at the tips of both fingers and toes. Composed of keratin, they offer a resilient and protective shield for our fingertips, continuously growing and adapting to their surroundings.

Each nail is unique, possessing a distinct shape, texture, and pattern that highlights the individuality of its owner. The intricate design of the nail anatomy features various parts, including the sturdy nail plate, the sensitive nail bed, the matrix responsible for growth and development, and the mysterious half-moon-shaped lunula.

The cuticle’s critical role in protecting the nail bed is a testament to the nail’s remarkable complexity and importance.

Nail Anatomy, Parts, Names & Diagram

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Shoulder Joint

The shoulder joint consists of three bones: the humerus, scapula, and clavicle. These three bones move smoothly and join together to form a ball-and-socket shape. Unlike any other joint, the shoulder joint offers an extraordinary range of motion to perform different moves seamlessly.

The shoulder’s stability further depends on the coracohumeral, coracoacromial, and glenohumeral ligaments, which work precisely to protect the joint from overexertion. The rotator cut-off consists of four tendons and muscles that hold the humeral head in place and play a vital role in the shoulder’s movements.

Read More – Shoulder Anatomy: Ultimate Guide to Parts, Names, Functions & Diagram

Elbow Joint

It is a synovial hinge joint where the humerus, radius, and ulna converge to create a dynamic masterpiece. The elbow’s motion allows the arm to flex and extend. The medial and lateral collateral ligaments guard against uncontrolled movements. The annular ligament keeps it securely nestled within the embrace of the ulna.

Wrist Joint

The wrist joint is known as the radiocarpal joint. It is an essential transition point and connection between the forearm and hand within the distal upper limb. It functions as a synovial joint of the condyloid type.

This joint features a distinctive modification resembling a ball and socket joint, allowing for various movements such as flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction. The wrist is an incredibly intricate joint that is a sophisticated bridge, seamlessly linking the hand to the forearm.

Its overall anatomical structure encompasses the carpus or carpal bones -composed of eight bones that shape the proximal skeletal segment of the hand.

Wrist Anatomy, Parts, Names & Diagram

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Metacarpophalangeal (MCP) Joints

The joint where the finger meets the hand is the MCP joint. It is genuinely remarkable to possess the ability to move in incredible ways. This joint is versatile, with the flexibility to bend, flex, twist, turn, and move in numerous directions.

The sturdy ligaments surrounding the joint ensure its security, while the synovial fluid provides the necessary lubrication for smooth, seamless movement. This intricate and multi-faceted joint is the key to efficiently executing complex and precise activities.

Interphalangeal (IP) Joints

The phalanges connect at the IP joints, which are responsible for the bending and straightening of the fingers. The collateral ligaments work seamlessly to support these movements on both sides. The palmar plate is an essential defender that prevents hyperextension and ensures the smooth functioning of the fingers.

Arm Muscle Anatomy

Arm anatomy combines all bones, muscles, ligaments, joints, and tendons. Out of these parts, muscles play a vital role in the movement of the parts of arm. Arm muscles anatomy divide into three categories, Anterior Compartment Muscles, Posterior Compartment Muscles & Intrinsic Muscles.

Anterior Compartment Muscles

The human arm anatomy is complex to understand but performs various movements and activities. The anterior compartment muscles are a group of powerful and coordinated muscles responsible for most flexion and pronation movements of the forearm.

Biceps Brachii

This muscle consists of two heads, the long and short heads, which arise from distinct origins. Its primary function is elbow flexion – bending the elbow joint, allowing us to bring the forearm closer to the upper arm. This muscle contraction empowers us to execute daily activities, such as lifting objects, performing intricate hand gestures, and even wielding tools with skill.


It is nestled from the biceps brachii. The brachialis is important when it comes to elbow flexion. Whenever we lift, carry, or pull objects, this muscle controls and provides the force required for executing these tasks efficiently.


The coracobrachialis is a versatile muscle originating in the coracoid process of the scapula. It plays two primary functions. Firstly, it assists in shoulder flexion, raising the arm forward. Secondly, during shoulder adduction, it pulls the arm towards the body, facilitating actions like hugging or drawing the arm closer to the chest.

This dynamic support ensures stability and precision in the execution of these movements, enhancing our overall range of motion and mobility.

Posterior Compartment Muscles

In the posterior compartment of the arm lie two exceptional muscles, the Triceps Brachii, and the Anconeus. They perform vital roles in extending the elbow joint and supporting various upper limb activities.

Triceps Brachii

The Triceps Brachii, the most important muscle in the arm, operates as the principal extensor of the elbow joint. It controls elbow extension, which is essential to daily movements, such as lifting, pushing, and performing various sports-related actions.

Composed of three striking heads, the Triceps Brachii showcases its remarkable diversity. The long head, originating from the infra glenoid tubercle of the scapula, aligns itself with the lateral and medial heads.

The lateral head originates from the posterior surface of the humerus, while the medial head emerges from the posterior aspect of the humerus beneath the radial groove.


The Anconeus is very important in the extension of the elbow. It highlights the actions of the Triceps Brachii, adding finesse and stability to the elbow joint.

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