Normal Anatomy of the Shoulder Joint

The shoulder is the most flexible joint in the body, making it the most susceptible to instability and injury. It is a "ball and socket" joint. A "ball" at the top of the upper arm bone (humerus) fits neatly into a "socket" (glenoid) which is part of the shoulder blade (scapula).

The shoulder joint is made up several bones and soft tissues. It has three bones: the collarbone (clavicle), scapula, and humerus.

The humerus provides attachment to muscles of the upper arm. The scapula is the bone that connects the upper arm bone with the collarbone. It is a flat bone and roughly triangular in shape and provides attachment to the muscles of the back and neck.

The clavicle is an S-shaped short bone that connects the shoulder girdle to the body (trunk). It supports the shoulder in a functional position with the axial skeleton so that the arm has maximum range of movement. It also protects major underlying nerves and blood vessels as they pass from the neck to the axilla.

The coracoid process is the extension of the scapula around the shoulder joint at the front portion of the scapula. The acromial process is the extension of scapula around the shoulder joint at the back that forms a roof (acromion).

The glenoid is the smooth, shallow depression at the end of scapula that forms the socket of shoulder joint.

The soft tissues of shoulder joint include:

Rotator cuff - A group of 4 tendons make the rotator cuff and it holds the head of the humerus in the socket.

Biceps tendon - The biceps tendon is a long cord-like structure which attaches the biceps muscle to the shoulder and helps to stabilize the joint.

Coracoclavicular ligament - The coracoclavicular ligament connects the clavicle with the coracoid process of the scapula.

Acromioclavicular ligament - The acromioclavicular ligament connects the clavicle with the acromion process.

Glenoid labrum - The glenoid labrum is a ring of fibrocartilage surrounding the cavity of the scapula for stabilization of the shoulder joint.

Articular cartilage or the capsule - This is a capsule that surrounds the shoulder joint and helps to keep the "ball and socket" normally aligned.