The corachobrachialis is one of the muscles that make up the shoulder joint. It is the smallest of all three muscles that attach to the coracoid process (the other two muscles are the short head of the biceps brachii muscle and pectoralis minor).
The coracobrachialis muscle is found at the upper and medial part of the arm. Originating from the scapula and inserting into the humerus, this muscle allows you to flex and adduct the arm. In addition, it also stabilizes the joint itself.
|Origins||Coracoid process of the scapula|
|Insertions||Anteromedial surface of the humerual shaft|
|Innervation||Musculocutaneous nerve (C5- C7)|
|Function||Adduction and flexion of the arm at the shoulder joint|
This article will dive into the anatomy of the coracobrachialis muscle, and also explain some clinical aspects relevant to this mucle.
Origins and insertions
The coracobrachialis is a long, slender muscle of the shoulder joint. As the name suggests, it originates from the coracoid process of the scapula, where its tendon is partly blended with the short head of the biceps. The insertion of this muscle happens at the anteromedial surface of the humeral shaft (between the brachialis muscle and the medial head of the triceps). Both the coracobrachialis and the humerus form the lateral border of the axilla, where it is also the easiest to palpate the muscle.
Did you know you can use our time-saving upper extremity muscle anatomy chart to learn the attachments, innervations and functions of the corachobrachialis muscle?
The nervous supply comes from the musculocutaneous nerve (C5-C7), a branch from the lateral cord of the brachial plexus. This nerve penetrates the coracobrachialis on a middle level.
The contraction of the coracobrachialis leads to two movements at the shoulder joint. On one hand, it bends the arm (flexion), and on the other hand it pulls the arm towards the trunk (adduction).
To a smaller extent, it may assist in turning the humerus inwards (internal rotation). Another important function is the stabilization of the humeral head within the shoulder joint, especially when the arm is hanging freely straight down.
The overuse of the coracobrachialis can lead to a hardening of the muscle. Common causes include, among others, bench pressing with extremely heavy weights and carrying heavy loads with hanging arms. Typical symptoms are pain in the arm and shoulder, radiating down to the back of the hand.
In more severe cases the musculocutaneous nerve, which goes through the coracobrachialis, can even get trapped (entrapment). Clinically the affected patients show skin sensation disturbances on the radial part of the forearm and a weakened flexion in the elbow, as the nerve also supplies the biceps brachii and brachialis muscles. In contrast, an actual rupture of the coracobrachialis is extremely rare and almost only occurs in serious accidents.