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Main nerves of the upper limb

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Identify the main nerves supplying the upper limb.
  2. Describe each nerve's origin from the brachial plexus.
  3. Name the region supplied by each upper limb nerve.

Watch video

The nerves of the upper extremity all arise from a network called the brachial plexus. This meshwork of nerves is formed from the anterior rami of spinal nerves C5- T1 and sits within the root of the neck. Watch the following video to learn how the nerve branches of the brachial plexus interconnect, and how they eventually form the main nerves supplying the structures of the upper limb.

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Key points
Main nerves of the upper limb Musculocutaneous nerve, axillary nerve, radial nerve, median nerve and ulnar nerve
Origin in the brachial plexus Musculocutaneous nerve: lateral cord
Axillary nerve: posterior cord
Radial nerve: posterior cord
Median nerve: lateral and medial cords
Ulnar nerve: medial cord
Region supplied by each nerve Shoulder: axillary nerve
Anterior arm: musculocutaneous nerve
Posterior arm and forearm: radial nerve
Anterolateral forearm and lateral hand: median nerve
Anteromedial forearm and medial hand: ulnar nerve
Lateral 3½ fingers: digital branches of median and radial nerve
Medial 1½ finger: digital branches of ulnar nerve

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