Increased Arm Span To Height Ratio

by Michael

Arm Span To Height Ratio

Arm Span To Height Ratio

I measured my arm-span, quite accidentally about a year ago at 22 years of age, to see if it fits the formula “arm-span to height as 1:1”. It did not. It was good 6 cm more than my height (176 cm of arm-span to 169-170 cm of height).

Then, in April this year I had muscle pain, especially in my arms. The pain was of moderate intensity and felt as if someone was pulling the arms hard. It lasted for about a week. During the same week, I felt febrile but no other symptoms: no cough, no rhinitis...just a little higher body temperature (37,2-37,4 degrees).

After this episode, I measured my arm-span again and found that it had increased by 2 cm. but the height remained constant (arm-span is 178 cm. and height 170 cm.)

At the age of 14 years I was diagnosed to have delayed growth and sexual development.

Given below is my growth chart (by year):
13.02.07 - 28kg/129cm (9 years and 9 months)
06.05.08 - 31/136 (10 years and 12 months)
28.04.09 - 32/139 (11 years and 11 months)
18.11.10 - 36,7/146 (13 years and 5 months)
28.04.11 - 37/148,5 (13 years and 11 months)
01.10.11 - 40/153,5 (14 years and 5 months)
28.02.12 - 45/157 (14 years and 9 months)
20.09.12 - 47/163 (15 years and 4 months)
27.08.14 - 57/168 (17 years and 3 months)

Both my parents are about 170 cm, but I have tall relatives from my mother side.

Recently, I also calculated my upper and lower limits of heights in the app for spirometry. The calculations there using an arm-span of individual. The app showed my Predicted Height to be 175,9 cm. (upper limit: 182,7 cm, lower limit: 169,7 cm).

Are these calculations right Doc?
If yes, does it mean that my full height could be about 183 cm, but I have only reached my lower limits? I am currently 23 years old. I know that this site works only with newborns and teenagers, but I am asking for your help anyway. – Thanks.

The Expert, Ren Chats Answers

A proportionate body is a sign of good health. An appropriate relationship between the size of the trunk and the size of the long bones gives an aesthetically pleasing human shape. The arm span to height ratio is one of the scientific ways to study them. Both include a set of long bones; arm span represents arm length and the width of the chest, and height is the summation of leg length and the length of the spine including the head (see Fig. arm-span).

The arm span grows proportionally more than stature in children until only up to 10 years in boys and 12 years in girls. In some normal teenagers arm span may continue to grow proportionally more than stature until about the age 15 years in girls and 25 years in boys, but not more than 5 cm.

Increased arm span to height ratio indicates abnormal tall stature. Arm span that exceeds height by more than 5 cm is typical of Marfan Syndrome and demands detailed medical evaluation.

The two measurements taken at the age of 22 and 23 show an increase of 2 cm in the arm span with no corresponding height gain. No doubt, it is normal for the height gain to stop by the age of 21. But then, the length of arms should not have continued to increase either. Nevertheless, considering that arm span includes chest width, the relatively increase in the arm span could be attributed to broadening of the chest.

In a normal and healthy individual, the proportion of arm length and chest is constant throughout growing years, with no perceivable effect of puberty. This signifies the importance of arm span in growth assessment of children with abnormal short and tall stature.

The predicted height of 175,9 cm by the spirometry app basically indicates stature for arm span of 178 cm. The result confirms that the arm span to height ratio of 178/170 is greater than normal. It is otherwise irrelevant for the diagnosis of the cause of tall stature (see Fig. Causes of Abnormal Tall Stature).

Midparental height (MPH)

MPH does not define genetic potential of an individual. The formula gives only a rough estimate of the expected adult height. It cannot be used to identify or eliminate stature disorder. Having said that, based on MPH formula, a daughter of both partners of height 170 cm. would grow up to be 168.75 cm. tall, and their mature son would be 171.25 cm. tall. But the genetic height range of these offspring could be anywhere from minus 3.5 to plus 3.5 of the calculated mid parental height.

Thus, the measurements of arm span 178 cm. with height of 170 cm. indicate growth disorder. The height gain, if any, could have been lost in scoliosis, an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine, also commonly seen in cases of Marfan syndrome. This could be cross checked by determining upper to lower segment ratio. It is one of the important body proportions to differentiate normal growth variations from growth disorder. The lower segment much greater than the upper segment indicates Marfan Syndrome.

Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder. It is commonly considered in a young, tall person with thin body and long limbs. These individuals have narrow hands with long slender fingers.

Your growth chart, depicted from the parameters given by you, does not indicate any delay in growth or pubertal growth spurt (see Fig. Effect Of Pubertal Growth Spurt On Growth Velocity). The corresponding weight gain is within the normal limits. It also tallies with the age at which you probably got your menarche.

Delayed sexual development

The age at which the early signs of sexual maturity are noticeable is highly variable. In thin girls it is further difficult to appreciate unless and until a proper physical examination is done by a doctor qualified in the field.

Neither the great growth spurt of puberty nor sexual development is affected in cases of Marfan syndrome. On the contrary, the menarche is a year or two early in these children as compared to the general population.

Arm pain

Moderate pain in the arms with low grade fever could be an episode of tendonitis. Tendons connect muscles to the bones. Inflammation or soreness of tendons however mild would cause pain on slightest use of the muscles. It usually is a result of overuse such as seen in cases of tennis elbow but could be an after effect of an injury as well.

Pressure on the nerve could also cause pain, but in these cases the pain is more sever and is accompanied by tingling numbness as seen in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

Related pages of interest:
Short Arm Span in a 9 Year Old

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Oct 21, 2020
Marfan Syndrome
by: Ren Chats

It could be Marfan syndrome. Approximately 1 in 5000 people suffer from the abnormality. Men and women are equally affected.

Though an autosomal dominant inheritance disorder, many do not inherit it from a parent. 1 in 4 cases of Marfan syndrome is attributed to spontaneous genetic mutation at conception for unknown reasons.

The ankle pain could be attributed to loose ligaments and flat foot defect with or without significant hindfoot valgus.

Your hand length of over 19 cm. (average being 17.3 cm. in women and 19.3 cm. in men) could also be consistent with Marfan syndrome. But US/LS ratio mentioned does not fit in, which in an adult of less than 0.86 indicates marfanoid body habitus. Therefore, please check for the error in the measurement. Best would be to get a good clinical examination done by a doctor specialized in growth disorders.

For more on Marfan Syndrome you can also check on The Marfan Foundation

Oct 19, 2020
Arm span
by: Michael

Good afternoon, Doc!

Thank you very much for adding my narrative to your site. Frankly speaking, no one else yet had answered me so properly and competently. Thank you for this.

Of course, I’d like to add my personal views and thoughts and give you additional information about my body proportions. So I measured my upper body part (if I’m not mistaken, it includes the head and the spine till the sacrum part), and did the same to my lower body part: full stand height minus upper body part. I got the next results: upper body part - 91 cm, lower segment (legs from the pubic bone till the surface I was standing on) - 79 cm respectively. Turns out my lower body part is not so big, despite I was very active in my childhood at the age of 10-15 years old, when legs increase rapidly. I used to play football a lot those times.

Of course, I was also searching the information about my newborn body length and here is what I found: I was born with the body length of 55 cm and the weight of 3,6 kg. If I got the information right, it’s something about 95th percentile. But at the the age of the 1st year my body length was only 74 cm, despite the known fact, that newborns gain about +/- 25 cm at their first year. I gained only 19 cm. At the second age my body length was 86 cm, and by the age of 3 years - 94 cm. When I started to study at school at the age of 7 years my height was 115 cm.

When I measure my arm-span without standing by the wall, but outstretched as well, and someone is measuring me, my result is 181 cm, standing by the wall - 178-178,6 cm, face to the wall - 179 cm. Maybe I have signs of Marfan syndrome, but I also measured my parents arm-span - no one of them have the same. My hands length are about 19-19,5 cm.

Also I have the next problem: since the childhood I used to walk on tip toes. I frankly don’t know how I do it, but when I start to put my leg strongly on the surface and walk this way about at least 30-35 minutes, my ankles start to pain. At the age of 12-13 I had a very strong legs pain, like convulsions, at the mornings and by the nights.

Maybe this information will help you, Doc. I will wait for your opinion!

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