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Glenohumeral (shoulder) joint: want to learn more about it?

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Glenohumeral (shoulder) joint

Learning Outcomes

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Describe the anatomy of the glenoid fossa.
  2. Name the main ligaments and muscles that reinforce the shoulder joint.
  3. List the movements carried out at the shoulder joint.

Watch videos

The glenohumeral joint, also known as the shoulder joint, is an articulation between the humerus and scapula. It is a ball-and-socket type of synovial joint, in which the head of the humerus represents the ball, and the glenoid fossa of the scapula as the socket. The surface of the humeral head is much larger than the surface of glenoid fossa, meaning that they are only partially ever in contact. This is the reason why the shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body, allowing for a wide range of motion. This mobility comes at the cost of joint stability, with the shoulder joint being one of the most frequently injured joints of the body. Watch the following video to learn about the anatomy of the shoulder joint, its associated ligaments and muscles, and its functions.

Once you mastered the basics about the shoulder joint, watch the next video to learn about the main muscles that stabilize and provide movements to the shoulder joint.

Take a quiz

Now that you have watched the video, solidify your understanding of the shoulder joint by testing yourself with the following quiz.

To challenge yourself further, take a broader quiz about the structures of the shoulder and arm.

Browse atlas

Anterior and posterior views

Lateral view


Key points about the shoulder joint
Joint type Synovial ball-and-socket joint
Articular surfaces Glenoid fossa of scapula, head of humerus
Ligaments Superior glenohumeral, middle glenohumeral, inferior glenohumeral, coracohumeral, transverse humeral
Important muscles Rotator cuff muscles: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, subscapularis
Functions Flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, lateral/external rotation, medial/internal rotation and circumduction

Well done!

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Continue your learning 

Now that you’re familiar with the basics about the major shoulder joint, continue learning about the upper limb with these study units.

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