Structure of the shoulder joint

Shoulder: Structure of the shoulder joint

The shoulder – anatomy of the shoulder joint

The shoulder girdle is the most mobile joint in the human body. More precisely, it consists of several joints that work together. The shoulder makes it possible for us to spread our arms in different directions, bend and extend them, and circle them upwards.

Bones and joint segments

The shoulder consists of three bones (humerus, scapula, clavicle) and is made up of four joint segments:

  • Shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint)
  • Acromioclavicular joint
  • Medial clavicular joint (sternoclavicular joint)
  • Connective tissue between scapula and torso wall (thorax wall)

The shoulder joint is the main shoulder joint and connects the upper arm and shoulder blade. The head of the humerus moves in the glenoid cavity. The sides that rub against each other are covered with articular cartilage, which acts as a shock absorber and sliding layer. Like every joint, the shoulder joint is surrounded by a joint capsule. This stabilises the shoulder joint and also provides the necessary nutrients for the joint cartilage.

Muscles, tendons and ligaments

The muscles of the rotator cuff hold the head of the humerus in the glenoid cavity during shoulder movements. The rotator cuff guides and stabilises the shoulder joint.
The shoulder joint has a relatively weakly developed ligament system to allow a large range of motion. Stability must therefore be provided by the muscular guidance of the rotator cuff.
Many bursae act as a buffer and sliding layer, preventing the muscles, tendons and bones in the shoulder from rubbing against each other.

Diseases and complaints of the shoulder

Wear and inflammation can develop in the shoulder, causing pain and discomfort, for example:

  • Shoulder arthrosis (omarthrosis)
  • Arthritis of the shoulder (omarthritis)
  • Shoulder bursitis
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Calcific tendonitis of the shoulder: circulatory disorders and calcification in the shoulder tendons
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome

Acute injuries to the shoulder can be caused by strong forces, for example in a fall or accident:


Health personnel will make the diagnosis and can prescribe medical aids, e.g. from medi if necessary.
Your medical retailer will fit them individually for you.