Upper Limb Amputations

Upper limb amputations tend to be less common than lower limb amputations, but can affect people of all ages.

The most common causes of upper limb amputation in North America are:

  • Accidents
  • Infection or burns
  • Tumours or disease
  • Conditions present at birth

People with upper limb amputations have a number of choices to make regarding rehabilitation and your health care team can help you make those choices.

There are many factors that determine how much of the limb is amputated. Generally, the longer the remaining limb and the more joints that are kept intact, the easier it is to be fit with and use a prosthesis.

The major categories of upper-limb amputations are:

  • Hand & Partial-Hand Amputations - Finger, thumb or portion of the hand below the wrist
  • Wrist Disarticulation - Limb is amputated at the level of the wrist
  • Transradial (below elbow amputations) - Amputation occurring in the forearm, from the elbow to the wrist
  • Transhumeral (above elbow amputations) - Amputation occurring in the upper arm from the elbow to the shoulder
  • Shoulder Disarticulation - Amputation at the level of the shoulder, with the shoulder blade remaining. The collarbone may or may not be removed
  • Forequarter Amputation - Amputation at the level of the shoulder in which both the shoulder blade and collar bone are removed