Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Fractured Shoulder Anatomy

To better understand shoulder fracture, it helps to understand the anatomy of the shoulder joint.

The shoulder joint allows motion between two major bones: the humerus and the scapula. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. A depression in the scapula, known as the glenoid, provides the socket for the head of the humerus. Ligaments and muscles hold the joint together as the bones move.

The clavicle, or collar bone, connects to the scapula at the acromion, which is a bony projection off the scapula. The acromioclavicular ligaments normally surround and secure this joint.

Anatomy examples:

  • The shoulder joint viewed from the front
  • The shoulder joint viewed from the back
  • The shoulder joint viewed from the top, showing rotator cuff
  • Muscles of the shoulder from the front
  • Muscles of the shoulder from the back
  • The acromioclavicular joint

Last Updated: Jul 9, 2009 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Fractured Shoulder References
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  2. Emond M, Le Sage N, Lavoie A, Rochette L. Clinical factors predicting fractures associated with an anterior shoulder dislocation. Acad Emerg Med. 2004 Aug;11(8):853-8.[15289192]
  3. Flinkkila T, Hyvonen P, Siira P, Hamalainen M. Recovery of shoulder joint function after humeral shaft fracture: a comparative study between antegrade intramedullary nailing and plate fixation. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2004 Oct;124(8):537-41. [15338242]
  4. Ide J, Honda K, Takagi K. Posterior dislocation of the shoulder associated with fracture of the humeral anatomical neck with 11-year follow-up after early open reduction and internal fixation. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2003 Apr;123(2-3):118-20. [12721692]
  5. Lim KE, Wang CR, Chin KC, Chen CJ, Tsai CC, Bullard MJ. Concomitant fracture of the coracoid and acromion after direct shoulder trauma. J Orthop Trauma. 1996;10(6):437-9. [8854324]
  6. Safran MR. Nerve injury about the shoulder in athletes, part 1: suprascapular nerve and axillary nerve. Am J Sports Med. 2004 Apr-May;32(3):803-19. [15090401]
  7. Serin E, Karatosun V, Balci C, Koseoglu HC, Ersoy HH. Two-prong splint in the treatment of proximal humeral fracture. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 1999;119(7-8):368-70. [10613221]
  8. Shao YC, Harwood P, Grotz MR, Limb D, Giannoudis PV. Radial nerve palsy associated with fractures of the shaft of the humerus: a systematic review. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2005 Dec;87(12):1647-52. [16326879]
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