Bones of the Shoulder: Anatomy and Functions

Bones of the Shoulder: Anatomy and Functions
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  • 0:03 The Shoulder
  • 0:36 The Humerus
  • 1:00 The Glenoid Cavity
  • 2:16 The Scapula
  • 2:34 The Clavicle
  • 2:49 The Acromion
  • 3:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Did you know that your shoulder joint is made up of many different parts? In this lesson, you'll learn about the clavicle, scapula, glenoid cavity, and acromion, as well as some of their more common names.

The Shoulder

The humerus is the main portion of your upper arm
Humerus Bone Location

Baseball players seem to suffer from a lot of shoulder injuries. Of course they do! They constantly rotate it back and forth over and over again. This shouldn't come as a surprise. The reasons for the shoulder injuries are as numerous as the structures involved in forming your shoulder joint. In this lesson, we'll mention the main bones involved in forming your shoulder. These three main bones of the shoulder are called the humerus, scapula, and clavicle.

The Humerus

The humerus is the bone which extends from your shoulder down to your forearm. It's basically the bone that makes up your upper arm. At the very top of the humerus, the end nearest your head, is something called the humeral head, and it kind of looks like a ball of sorts; and this distinction will be important to remember in just a little bit.

The Glenoid Cavity

This humeral head articulates with, or moves around in, a structure called the glenoid cavity. The glenoid cavity is a part of the scapula that articulates with the head of the humerus. The word 'glene' in 'glenoid' refers to the fact that it's a socket. Hence, the socket of the glenoid cavity articulates with the ball of the humerus. Therefore, the main portion of the shoulder joint is called a ball and socket joint.

The humeral head fits into the glenoid cavity socket
Glenoid Cavity Humerus Head

The smooth semi-circular humeral head, the ball, fits into the concave structure of the glenoid cavity, the socket. The fit is like a key, the humeral head, to a lock, the glenoid cavity; however, it has much less rigidity. These properties are what allow for the movement of your shoulder up, down, forwards, backwards, and in virtually any direction whatsoever with little impediment. It is this anatomy that allows for a baseball player to move his arm in an arc-like motion to throw the perfect curve ball that will lead to the batter striking out!

The Scapula

As you just heard, the glenoid cavity is part of something called the scapula, which is a structure that connects the humerus to the clavicle and is more commonly called the shoulder blade. It sort of looks like the blade of a shovel and hence the name: 'shoulder blade.'

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