Meghan has taught undergraduate and graduate level science courses and has a PhD in Immunology.
Purpose of the Scapula
It's the top of the 9th inning, and the bases are loaded. The game now fully depends on your final pitch. You step back, wind up, and sail the ball directly into the catcher's mitt. STRIKE 3! You've won the game for your entire team.
A pitcher steps back, winds up, and the force through the lower body is coordinated by the scapula to throw the ball. This is depicted in the stills of the pitcher in the above image.
The beautiful overhand pitch that facilitated your win was not only made possible by hard work and practice, but also by a pivotal bone in your anatomy - the scapula, which is more commonly referred to as the shoulder blade and is critical for stabilizing and permitting sport movements, such as throwing, swimming, rowing. It is similarly important for everyday activities like lifting a box overhead or reaching for a blanket on the top shelf in the closet. Overall, the scapula coordinates the large forces from your back and lower body into efficient motion through the arm and hand.
The scapula is located on your back and has a triangular shape that looks like a blade, hence the common reference, shoulder blade. Although it is primarily a flat bone, the scapula also contains two projections, the a.c. processes, the acromion and coracoid processes . These features make the scapula look quite pointy and almost prehistoric - but don't worry, the shoulder was designed to be very functional. The other portions of the scapula are numbered and listed in the image below, if you are interested.
1. Subscapular fossa
2. Glenoid cavity
3. Coracoid process
5. Superior border
6. Scapular notch
7. Superior angle
8. Medial border
9. Inferior angle
10. Lateral border
11. Infraglenoid tubercle
The Scapula Is Connected to the...Collarbone!
The scapula attaches to two other bones, the clavicle (the collarbone) and the humerus (the upper arm) as well as a number of joints and tendons. Additionally, it serves as a platform for more than 10 chest, arm, and back muscles to attach, including the biceps and the triceps. In other words, without the scapula, it would be really hard to pump iron!
Together, the shoulder complex allows for a range of motion that is much greater than any other joint in the body. Because of its crucial role in movement, if you injure your scapula, it can be detrimental to your mobility. Thankfully, scapular fractures are quite rare and most often only occur following blunt-force trauma (so wear your seatbelt!). In addition to not being able to lift your arm, other common symptoms of a fracture include swelling of the shoulder area, bruising and extreme pain.
To assess the degree and location of damage, a doctor will typically order a radiographic evaluation, such as an X-ray. The fracture is then classified as either a glenoid fracture, an acromial fracture, or a coracoid process fracture, with grades of severity (low damage to most severe). Generally, scapular fractures are associated with other injuries, such as those involving the spine, collarbone, or ribs; therefore, the doctor will have to do a thorough exam of all related areas, especially if you were in an accident.
Like most other bone breaks, there is no magic cure. Instead, treating a broken scapula requires immobilization for up to 4 weeks, icing to control the swelling, and pain medication to tamper the discomfort. In extreme cases, the doctor may have to perform surgery. Regardless of treatment, rehabilitation from scapular fractures will probably be necessary. Physical therapy is recommended to not only regain the your initial range of motion but also to strengthen your muscles because strengthen the attached musculature can help reduce any remaining pain and help it to serve as a supportive cushion to the scapula as it heals.
Overall, the scapula is a critical bone in the shoulder, attaching to multiple bones, tendons, and joints and serving as a platform for the muscles of the chest, back and arms. It allows for a wide range of arm movements, such as picking up a baby and swinging a tennis racket. Any injury to the scapula should be carefully diagnosed by a medical professional. In the event of a fracture, the scapula must be given time to heal properly; otherwise, long-term immobility may result.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack