Shoulder joints are part of your body where your arm bones meet at your torso. Two main shoulder joints connect your shoulder blade, upper arm and collarbone. They allow you to use your arms and give you a wide range of motion.
A joint is a place where the ends of two bones make contact with each other to allow motion. Your shoulder is made up of two joints that connect the three bones of your shoulder together with soft tissue, muscle, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.
The three bones in your shoulder are your:
Because of the motion of these three bones at your shoulder joint, the arm can be moved to position the elbow and hand.
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The two joints that make up your shoulder joint are:
The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint (spheroidal joint). This is a joint where a rounded bone moves inside the curved surface of another bone.
You can mimic this joint by making your right hand into a fist and placing your fist into the palm of your left hand. Cup the fingers of your left hand over your right fist. When you move your right forearm up and down or side to side while keeping your right fist pressed against your left palm, that’s the range of motion of a ball and socket joint. Because of the coordinated movements of the two joints of the shoulder and the movement of the scapula over the rib cage, the shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in your body.
Your shoulder joint allows you to move your arm. It connects the three bones in your shoulder. This gives you a wide range of motion. Your shoulder joint lets you complete tasks with your arm like reaching for items on a tall shelf or throwing a ball.
The bones of your shoulder are supported by the following components that help you move your arm:
Your shoulder joints are located at the top of your arm. They connect your arms to your torso. Your acromioclavicular joint connects your collarbone and your shoulder blade. Below your acromioclavicular joint is your glenohumeral joint that connects your upper arm bone and your shoulder blade.
The human body has two shoulder joints, one on each side of the body at the top of each arm, connecting the arms to the torso.
You have two joints in your shoulder. Each one looks different:
You move your shoulder joints often. This can lead to common injuries or wear and tear that include:
The most common symptoms that affect your shoulder joints include:
A healthcare provider may offer an imaging test to get a better look at your shoulder joints. The most common type of imaging tests are an X-ray or an MRI. These will help your provider look at the bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments in your shoulder joint.
Treatment can vary based on what caused your shoulder joint injury or condition. Common treatments may include:
A healthcare provider will let you know what type of treatment is best for your diagnosis.
You can keep your shoulder joints healthy by:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Your shoulder joints provide your arms with a wide range of motion. They’re the most flexible part of your body. Without these joints, you’ll have limited use of your arms. You can keep your shoulder joints healthy by eating a well-balanced diet and stretching and exercising as your healthcare provider recommends.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/30/2023.
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