A glimpse of Anatomy: The upper limb

20 October 2017 12:53 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The subject of anatomy is a necessary evil when studying medicine. This is because in order for the illness to be diagnosed, you need to identify exactly where the problem lies. That is why the first and second year medical students spend hours poring over the exact pathways of the vessels and nerves, attachments and innervation of muscles and studying the smallest protrusions or indentations of the bones. The first thing they usually learn while studying about the anatomy is the anatomy of the upper limb. There are whole books penned on the upper limb, to the point that you almost wish that it wasn’t so intricately evolved and being associated with so many muscles and nerves. While I’m not going to scare our readers away with all the intricate details, I’m hoping to give you a peep into the interesting anatomy of the upper limb. This will help you realize that there is more ‘depth’ to the upper limb than you initially realized.  


 The upper limb is divided as the shoulder girdle, the forearm; which is the part between the shoulder and the elbow, and the arm; the part between the elbow and the wrist, and the distally situated hand. It comprises 32 bones on either side (64 bones in total). This includes the bones of the shoulder, the Clavicle and the Scapula.   


 Talking about the nerves supplying the arm, ever heard of the term ‘Brachial plexus’? It used to be the bane of my existence during the first year in medical school. It’s an intricate weaving of nerves progressing from neck area and is situated under your arm-pits. At a glance, it looks like a bowl of over- boiled noodles sticking together, but in reality, this plexus has a lot to do with helping humans stand, since the evolution of the upper limb of the humans is said to be one big reason that we are far ahead of the other species in the animal kingdom, in ‘some’ aspects, at least. And the brachial plexus enables it all, from the drawings of the Da Vinci, the music of the Mozart down to the punches of Muhammad Ali. (If you are curious as to why I called it the ‘Bane of my existence’, it’s because we had to identify each individual nerve in that ‘bowl of noodles’ and track their journey through each nook and cranny of the upper arm.) Did you know that the ‘funny bone’ that gives you a tingly sensation every time it hits something, is actually a nerve called the ulnar nerve?  


 There are certain anatomical landmarks in the upper limb that are quite useful in the medical profession. The area on the opposite side of your elbow, where blood is usually drawn in, is an area called the ‘cubital fossa’. This is a triangular shaped area in the roof of which runs a superficial vein called the median cubital vein. Now you know how the lobotomist (usually) knows how to draw blood from the first attempt. There’s another interesting landmark called the ‘anatomical snuffbox’, because apparently it’s the place where old people used to place and snuff tobacco at. The importance of this land mark is to diagnose a fracture of the scaphoid; one of the carpal bones. In this case the patient feels tenderness ‘inside the snuffbox.’   


 I hope I piqued your interest from the little information I presented you with on a subject as vast as the ocean itself. Human Anatomy, or the study of the architecture of the human body, is an extremely complex subject, but it also has the ability to amaze you with it’s precision and intricacy, when you do a careful study of it.   

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