Anatomy of the glenohumeral joint


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Anatomy of the glenohumeral joint

Upper limb


Bones of the upper limb

Fascia, vessels and nerves of the upper limb

Anatomy of the brachial plexus

Anatomy of the pectoral and scapular regions

Anatomy of the arm

Muscles of the forearm

Vessels and nerves of the forearm

Muscles of the hand

Anatomy of the sternoclavicular and acromioclavicular joints

Anatomy of the glenohumeral joint

Anatomy of the elbow joint

Anatomy of the radioulnar joints

Joints of the wrist and hand

Anatomy of the axilla

Anatomy clinical correlates

Anatomy clinical correlates: Clavicle and shoulder

Anatomy clinical correlates: Axilla

Anatomy clinical correlates: Arm, elbow and forearm

Anatomy clinical correlates: Wrist and hand

Anatomy clinical correlates: Median, ulnar and radial nerves


Anatomy of the glenohumeral joint

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Anatomy of the Glenohumeral Joint

Figure 1: A. Anterior view of the rotator cuff muscles. B. Posterior view of the rotator cuff muscles.
Figure 2: A. Anterior view of the ligaments of the glenohumeral joint. B. Lateral view of the ligaments of the glenohumeral joint. 
Figure 3: A. Anterior view of the bursae, biceps brachii muscle and glenohumeral joint. B. Lateral view of glenohumeral joint ligaments. 
Figure 4: Arteries supplying glenohumeral joint A. Anterior view B. Posterior view
Proximal Attachment
Distal Attachment
  • Supraspinous fossa of scapula

  • Superior facet of
    greater tubercle
    of humerus 
  • Suprascapular nerve (C5, C6)
  • Initiates / assists deltoid in abduction of arm
  • Stabilizes glenohumeral joint
  • Infraspinous fossa of the scapula
  • Middle facet of the greater tubercle of the humerus
  • Suprascapular nerve (C5, C6)
  • Rotates arm laterally
  • Stabilizes glenohumeral joint
Teres minor
  • Middle part of the lateral border of the scapula
  • Inferior facet of the greater tubercle of the humerus
  • Axillary nerve (C5, C6)
  • Rotates arm laterally 
  • Stabilizes glenohumeral joint
  • Subscapular fossa
  • Lesser tubercle of the humerus
  • Upper and lower subscapular nerves (C5, C6, C7) 
  • Rotates arm medially
  • Stabilizes glenohumeral joint



Evode Iradufasha, MD

Sam Gillespie, BSc

David G. Walker

Patricia Nguyen, MScBMC

The glenohumeral joint, also known as the shoulder joint, is a ball and socket type of synovial joint: the ball being the head of the humerus, and the socket being the glenoid cavity of the scapula.

The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in our body, and it allows us to do everything from pull ups, to throwing a baseball, and hugging our loved ones!

Let’s take a closer look at our articulating parts here. So, the head of the humerus fits into this shallow glenoid cavity.

The glenoid cavity is actually so shallow that it only covers one-third of the humeral head.

Having a shallow glenoid cavity allows for exceptional mobility as the humeral head can rotate freely to allow us an impressive range of motion.

At the same time, the contour of the glenoid cavity is lined by a fibrocartilaginous rim, called the glenoid labrum, which makes the cavity a little bit deeper, reducing the chance for dislocations.

Like any respectable synovial joint, the glenohumeral joint is covered by a tough, but loose, joint capsule with an internal synovial lining.

The joint capsule extends from the anatomical neck of the humerus, to the margin of the glenoid. This capsule has two apertures, or passageways.

The first one is between the tubercles of the humerus, which provides passage for the tendon of the long head of the biceps brachii.

This tendon then passes in the intertubercular groove covered by a broad fibrous band, called the transverse humeral ligament, which runs from the lesser tubercle of the humerus, to the greater tubercle.


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