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Humerus vs. Femur — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on November 6, 2023
The humerus is the upper arm bone connecting the shoulder to the elbow, while the femur, the longest bone in the body, forms the thigh, connecting the hip to the knee.
Humerus vs. Femur — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Humerus and Femur


Key Differences

The humerus is the bone that runs from the shoulder to the elbow, forming part of the arm in humans. The femur, which is the longest and strongest bone in the body, extends from the hip to the knee, constituting the upper part of the leg. While both bones are central to the mobility of the limbs they are part of, the humerus is pivotal for arm rotation and the femur supports the body’s weight in standing and locomotion.
In terms of anatomical structure, the humerus is connected to muscles that control the movement of the arm and the hand, while the femur connects to muscles that facilitate movement of the entire leg. Fractures to the humerus can significantly affect arm function, just as femur fractures can impair walking. The humerus is essential for arm and hand dexterity, and the femur is critical for leg movements and supporting upright postures.
The humerus is involved in a wide range of motions, including lifting and throwing, while the femur serves as the primary bone for weight-bearing activities like walking, jumping, and running. The proximal end of the humerus forms the ball of the ball-and-socket shoulder joint, while the proximal end of the femur forms the ball of the hip joint. This structural difference reflects the distinct functions of these bones.
Each bone is susceptible to different kinds of injuries due to their location and function. The humerus is often broken due to falls on outstretched arms, while the femur can suffer fractures from high-impact trauma such as car accidents. Treatment for humerus fractures might include arm bracing or surgery, while femur fractures might require surgical insertion of rods, plates, or screws due to the bone's substantial role in weight support.
Developmentally, the humerus and femur are both long bones that undergo a process of growth involving epiphyseal (growth) plates. These plates are areas of new bone growth and are critical in determining the final length and shape of the bone. The humerus contributes to the height of the upper body, while the femur is key to overall height, reflecting their respective roles in body proportion and structure.

Comparison Chart


Upper arm

Joint Connection

Shoulder and elbow
Hip and knee


Arm rotation, lifting
Weight-bearing, walking

Common Injuries

Falls, impacts to the arm
High-impact trauma

Growth Contribution

Upper body height
Overall height

Compare with Definitions


The bone of the upper arm between shoulder and elbow.
He broke his humerus during a rough football game.


The femur's head fits into the hip socket to form the hip joint.
Arthritis in the femur's head can severely hinder hip mobility.


This bone's marrow is a site for blood cell production.
Bone marrow biopsies are often taken from the humerus.


It supports the body's weight during standing and movement.
Without a strong femur, walking would be incredibly challenging.


It connects to the shoulder blade and the radius and ulna at the elbow.
The muscles attached to the humerus are vital for arm movement.


The thigh bone, connecting hip to knee.
The soccer player's career was jeopardized by a femur fracture.


It has two rounded knobs at the elbow end known as the epicondyles.
The tendon attaches right below the humerus's epicondyles.


It is the longest bone in the human body.
The length of the femur is often used to estimate a person's height.


It is a typical site for upper arm fractures.
The X-ray showed a clean break in the patient's humerus.


It's prone to fractures from significant forces, as in car accidents.
Emergency surgery was required to stabilize the multiple fractures in her femur.


The humerus (, plural: 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 femur (, pl. femurs or femora ), or thigh bone, is the proximal bone of the hindlimb in tetrapod vertebrates.


The long bone of the arm or forelimb, extending from the shoulder to the elbow.


A bone of the leg situated between the pelvis and knee in humans. It is the largest and strongest bone in the body.


(anatomy) The bone of the upper arm.


A functionally similar bone in the leg or hind limb of other vertebrates. Also called thighbone.


The bone of the brachium, or upper part of the arm or fore limb.


The thick, most muscular segment of the insect leg, situated between the trochanter and the tibia.


Bone extending from the shoulder to the elbow


(anatomy) A thighbone.


(entomology) The middle segment of the leg of an insect, between the trochanter and the tibia.


(arachnology) A segment of the leg of an arachnid.


The thigh bone; - it is the longest and thickest bone of the human skeleton, which extends from the pelvis to the knee.


The longest and thickest bone of the human skeleton; extends from the pelvis to the knee

Common Curiosities

What joints does the humerus form?

The humerus forms part of the shoulder and elbow joints.

Can you fracture both the humerus and femur?

Yes, both bones can be fractured, but the causes and impacts of the fractures differ due to their locations.

Which is the longer bone, the humerus or femur?

The femur is the longer and stronger of the two, being the longest bone in the human body.

Where is the femur located?

The femur is located in the thigh, extending from the hip to the knee.

What joints does the femur form?

The femur forms part of the hip and knee joints.

What is the role of the femur in leg movement?

The femur is essential for weight-bearing and facilitates leg motions like walking and running.

Are the humerus and femur considered long bones?

Yes, both are categorized as long bones due to their elongated shapes.

What is the role of the humerus in arm movement?

The humerus is critical for arm rotation and facilitates various arm and hand motions.

What is the humerus?

The humerus is the long bone in the upper arm or forelimb, connecting the shoulder to the elbow.

Do both the humerus and femur have growth plates?

Yes, both have growth plates at their ends, which are crucial during the developmental stage.

Can diseases affect both the humerus and femur?

Yes, conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis can affect both bones.

What is the typical treatment for a humerus fracture?

Treatment may include bracing, casting, or surgery, depending on the fracture's severity.

What is the typical treatment for a femur fracture?

Due to its weight-bearing role, femur fractures often require surgical intervention with metal hardware.

How does a humerus fracture affect movement?

A humerus fracture can significantly restrict arm and hand functionality.

How does a femur fracture affect movement?

A femur fracture can severely impair walking and may lead to temporary or permanent disability.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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