Shoulder Anatomy

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of three bones: your upper arm bone (humer), your shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle).

shoulder joint

The head of your upper arm bone fits into a rounded socket in your shoulder blade. This socket is called the glenoid. Surrounding the outside edge of the glenoid is a rim of strong, fibrous tissue called the labrum. The labrum helps to deepen the socket and stabilize the shoulder joint. It also serves as an attachment point for many of the ligaments of the shoulder, as well as one of the tendons from the biceps muscle in the arm.

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Shoulder Joint

Strong connective tissue, called the shoulder capsule, keeps the head of the upper arm bone centered in the glenoid socket. This tissue covers the shoulder joint and attaches the upper end of the arm bone to the shoulder blade.


shoulder capsule

Your shoulder also relies on strong tendons and muscles to keep it stable. Some of these muscles are called the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that come together as tendons to form a covering or cuff of tissue around the head of the humerus.

shoulder tendon

The biceps muscle in the upper arm has two tendons that attach it to the shoulder blade. The long head attaches to the top of the shoulder socket (glenoid). The short head attaches to a bump on the shoulder blade called the coracoid process. These attachments help to center the humeral head in the glenoid socket.

shoulder blade
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shoulder muscles

In addition to the ligaments and rotator cuff, muscles in the upper back play an important role in keeping the shoulder stable. These muscles include the trapezius, levator scapulae, rhomboids, and serratus anterior, and they are referred to as the scapular stabilizers. They control the scapula and clavicle bones — called the shoulder girdle — which functions as the foundation for the shoulder joint.

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