Ligaments In The Shoulder

By Robert Lim, PTA

What Protects the Shoulder Joint?

The shoulder joint is protected and surrounded by a soft tissue sac called the shoulder capsule. Ligaments, soft tissue structures that connect bone to bone, help reinforce the capsule.  The capsule and ligaments provide passive stability to the shoulder while still allowing movements in different planes.  Below we will describe the ligaments that help keep the shoulder in its place. Ligaments in the shoulder are essential for a healthy shoulder.

Diagram of the human shoulder labeled showing shoulder muscles and the ligaments of the shoulder. JOI Rehab

Shoulder muscles

Glenohumeral Ligaments 

The joint capsule is shaped by a group of ligaments that connect the humerus to the glenoid.   These ligaments are the main source of stability for the shoulder.  There are three Glenohumeral ligaments ( superior, middle, and inferior glenohumeral ligaments). These ligaments in the shoulder help hold the shoulder in place and keep it from dislocating out of the socket.  

Coraco-acromial Ligament 

Another ligament in the shoulder joins the coracoid to the acromion called the coracoacromial ligament (CAL). This ligament can thicken and cause Impingement Syndrome in the shoulder.  

Coraco-clavicular Ligaments 

The next two ligaments that we will discuss will be the trapezoid and conoid ligaments, which attach the scapula’s clavicle coracoid process.  These tiny ligaments with the AC joint play an important role in keeping the scapula attached to the clavicle.  A hard fall on the shoulder point can rupture these ligaments with the possibility of a dislocation of the AC Joint. 

Anatomical diagram of the human shoulder transverse humeral ligaments, glenohumeral ligament and shoulder muscles labeled. JOI Rehab

Muscles of shoulder and Arm

Transverse Humeral Ligament

The Transverse Humeral Ligament holds the tendon of the long head of biceps brachii muscle in the area between the greater and lesser tubercle on the humerus bone.  

What are the Symptoms of a Torn Ligament in the Shoulder?

The most common symptoms of a shoulder labrum are pain with movement. Usually pain with other symptoms such as popping, clicking, grinding, or catching might be present. You might also feel that your shoulder is unstable when you move it. Unstable meaning that is feels like it is slipping when moving.


Related Shoulder Articles:

If you have recently had a shoulder surgery please watch this helpful video: Dressing the Upper Body After an Injury or Surgery

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