Reference > Anatomy of the Human Body > Page 320
Henry Gray (1825–1861).  Anatomy of the Human Body.  1918.
  It is in consequence of the relative sizes of the two articular surfaces, and the looseness of the articular capsule, that the joint enjoys such free movement in all directions. When these movements of the arm are arrested in the shoulder-joint by the contact of the bony surfaces, and by the tension of the fibers of the capsule, together with that of the muscles acting as accessory ligaments, the arm can be carried considerably farther by the movements of the scapula, involving, of course, motion at the acromio- and sternoclavicular joints. These joints are therefore to be regarded as accessory structures to the shoulder-joint (see pages 314 and 316). The extent of the scapular movements is very considerable, especially in extreme elevation of the arm, a movement best accomplished when the arm is thrown somewhat forward and outward, because the margin of the head of the humerus is by no means a true circle; its greatest diameter is from the intertubercular groove, downward, medialward, and backward, and the greatest elevation of the arm can be obtained by rolling its articular surface in the direction of this measurement. The great width of the central portion of the humeral head also allows of very free horizontal movement when the arm is raised to a right angle, in which movement the arch formed by the acromion, the coracoid process and the coracoacromial ligament, constitutes a sort of supplemental articular cavity for the head of the bone.
  The looseness of the capsule is so great that the arm will fall about 2.5 cm. from the scapula when the muscles are dissected from the capsule, and an opening made in it to counteract the atmospheric pressure. The movements of the joint, therefore, are not regulated by the capsule so much as by the surrounding muscles and by the pressure of the atmosphere, an arrangement which “renders the movements of the joint much more easy than they would otherwise have been, and permits a swinging, pendulum-like vibration of the limb when the muscles are at rest” (Humphry). The fact, also, that in all ordinary positions of the joint the capsule is not put on the stretch, enables the arm to move freely in all directions. Extreme movements are checked by the tension of appropriate portions of the capsule, as well as by the interlooking of the bones. Thus it is said that “abduction is checked by the contact of the great tuberosity with the upper edge of the glenoid cavity; adduction by the tension of the coracohumeral ligament” (Beaunis et Bouchard). Cleland  1 maintains that the limitations of movement at the shoulder-joint are due to the structure of the joint itself, the glenoidal labrum fitting, in different positions of the elevated arm, into the anatomical neck of the humerus.
  The scapula is capable of being moved upward and downward, forward and backward, or, by a combination of these movements, circumducted on the wall of the chest. The muscles which raise the scapula are the upper fibers of the Trapezius, the Levator scapulæ, and the Rhomboidei; those which depress it are the lower fibers of the Trapezius, the Pectoralis minor, and, through the elavicle, the Subclavius. The scapula is drawn backward by the Rhomboidei and the middle and lower fibers of the Trapezius, and forward by the Serratus anterior and Pectoralis minor, assisted, when the arm is fixed, by the Pectoralis major. The mobility of the scapula is very considerable, and greatly assists the movements of the arm at the shoulder-joint. Thus, in raising the arm from the side, the Deltoideus and Supraspinatus can only lift it to a right angle with the trunk, the further elevation of the limb being effected by the Trapezius and Serratus anterior moving the scapula on the wall of the chest. This mobility is of special importance in ankylosis of the shoulder-joint, the movements of this bone compensating to a very great extent for the immobility of the joint.
  Cathcart  2 has pointed out that in abducting the arm and raising it above the head, the scapula rotates throughout the whole movement with the exception of a short space at the beginning and at the end; that the humerus moves on the scapula not only while passing from the hanging to the horizontal position, but also in travelling upward as it approaches the vertical above; that the clavicle moves not only during the second half of the movement but in the first as well, though to a less extent—i. e., the scapula and clavicle are concerned in the first stage as well as in the second; and that the humerus is partly involved in the second as well as chiefly in the first.
  The intimate union of the tendons of the Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor and Subscapularis with the capsule, converts these muscles into elastic and spontaneously acting ligaments of the joint.
  The peculiar relations of the tendon of the long head of the Biceps branchii to the shoulder-joint appear to subserve various purposes. In the first place, by its connection with both the shoulder and elbow the muscle harmonizes the action of the two joints, and acts as an elastic ligament in all positions, in the manner previously discussed (see page 287). It strengthens the upper part of the articular cavity, and prevents the head of the humerus from being pressed up against the acromion, when the Deltoideus contracts; it thus fixes the head of the humerus as the center of motion in the glenoid cavity. By its passage along the intertubercular groove it assists in steadying the head of the humerus in the various movements of the arm. When the arm is raised from the side it assists the Supraspinatus and Infraspinatus in rotating the head of the humerus in the glenoid cavity. It also holds the head of the bone firmly in contact with the glenoid cavity, and prevents its slipping over its lower edge, or being displaced by the action of the Latissimus dorsi and Pectoralis major, as in climbing and many other movements.
Note 1.  Journal of Anatomy and Physiology, 1867, i. 85. [back]
Note 2.  Ibid., 1884, vol. xviii. [back]


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