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Anatomy of the Shoulder

Anatomy of the shoulder
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The shoulder is made up of several layers, including the following:

  • Bones. The collarbone (clavicle), the shoulder blade (scapula), and the upper arm bone (humerus).

  • Joints. The place where movement occurs, including the following:

    • Sternoclavicular joint (where the clavicle meets the sternum)

    • Acromioclavicular (AC) joint (where the clavicle meets the acromion)

    • Shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint). A ball-and-socket joint that facilitates forward, circular, and backward movement of the shoulder.

  • Ligaments. A white, shiny, flexible band of fibrous tissue that holds joints together and connects various bones, including the following:

    • Joint capsule. A group of ligaments that connect the humerus to the socket of the shoulder joint on the scapula to stabilize the shoulder and keep it from dislocating.

    • Ligaments that attach the clavicle to the acromion

    • Ligaments that connect the clavicle to the scapula by attaching to the coracoid process

  • Acromion. The roof (highest point) of the shoulder that is formed by a part of the scapula.

  • Tendons. The tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones. The rotator cuff tendons are a group of tendons that connect the deepest layer of muscles to the humerus.

  • Muscles. Help support and rotate the shoulder in many directions. Facilitate movement of the shoulder. 

  • Rotator cuff. Name of a group of muscles and tendons that rotate the shoulder.

  • Bursa. A closed space between 2 moving surfaces that has a small amount of lubricating fluid inside; located between the rotator cuff muscle layer and the outer layer of large, bulky muscles.

Online Medical Reviewer: Banerjee, Rahul, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Date Last Reviewed: 11/18/2015
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