Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Shoulder is Out of Joint Anatomy

To better understand shoulder dislocation, 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 8, 2009 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Shoulder is Out of Joint References
  1. Ameh V, Crane S. Nerve injury following shoulder dislocation: the emergency physician's perspective. Eur J Emerg Med. 2006 Aug;13(4):233-5. [16816589]
  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. Good CR, MacGillivray JD. Traumatic shoulder dislocation in the adolescent athlete: advances in surgical treatment. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2005 Feb;17(1):25-9. [15659959]
  4. Handoll HH, Almaiyah MA, Rangan A. Surgical versus non-surgical treatment for acute anterior shoulder dislocation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD004325. [14974064]
  5. 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]
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