Limb Loss Above the Elbow

Limb loss above the elbow is usually due to trauma, disease, or infection. About 30 percent of the upper limb amputations in the United States occur above the elbow.1-3 Some of the most common above-elbow procedures include transhumeral amputations (between the elbow and shoulder) and elbow disarticulation amputations (occurring through the elbow joint).

Where an amputation is performed depends on a variety of factors, including clinical indications and likelihood of successful use of assistive devices or prostheses at a certain level. If you are facing amputation, or have previously experienced above-elbow amputation, know that you are not alone. Be patient with yourself and reach out for support when you need it.

Finding a Prosthetist and Choosing a Prosthesis

Our upper limb specialists are experienced in building and customizing prostheses for all levels of upper limb loss and limb difference, and see patients across the country. Your prosthetist will review your unique situation and goals, and work with you and your care team to decide on the best prosthetic options for you.

Above-elbow prostheses usually include a socket, suspension, elbow, and terminal device (hand or hook), and may or may not include a separate wrist piece. Understanding your goals and specific functional needs, for work or for hobbies, will help your prosthetist select the components that will best meet your needs.

Learn More About Prosthetic Elbows >

Learn More About Prosthetic Hands & Hooks >

  1. Dillingham TR, Pezzin LE, MacKenzie EJ. Limb amputation and limb deficiency: epidemiology and recent trends in the United States. South Med J. 2002;95(8):875–83. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  2. Ziegler-Graham K, MacKenzie EJ, Ephraim PL, Travison TG, Brookmeyer R. Estimating the prevalence of limb loss in the United States: 2005 to 2050. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2008;89(3):422–9. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  3. Esquenazie A. Upper limb amputation, rehabilitation, & prosthetic restoration. In: Maitin IB, Cruz E, editors. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (Chapter 27) New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2014.§ionid=70380726. Accessed September 18, 2018. [Google Scholar]

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