Scapulothoracic joint

Dr Jeffrey Cheng and Dr Craig Hacking et al.

The scapulothoracic joint is a not an anatomical joint as it does not refer to two opposing bones, but to a physiological joint of the pectoral girdle. The scapula is held against the thoracic wall by many muscles and the strut of the clavicle secondarily attaching it to the manubrium.

The scapulothoracic joint allows for the complex scapular movements in relation to the thoracic cage: elevation and depression, protraction and retraction, and medial and lateral rotation.

Movement

The scapulothoracic joint allows for six distinct movements facilitated by the following muscles

  • elevation: upper fibres of trapezius and levator scapulae 
  • depression:
    • passive: gravity (usually sufficient)
    • active: lower fibres of serratus anterior, and pectoralis minor
  • protraction: upper and middle fibres of serratus anterior and pectoralis minor
  • retraction: middle fibres of trapezius and rhomboids
  • lateral rotation: upper fibres of trapezius and lower fibres of serratus anterior
  • medial rotation:
    • passive: gravity with controlled relaxation of trapezius and serratus anterior
    • active: levator scapulae and rhomboids
Share article

Article information

rID: 41598
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Scapulothoracic joints
  • Scapulothoracic articulation

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Figure 1: scapulothoracic joint movements
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Figure 2: pectoral girdle musculature
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Scapulothoracic s...
    Figure 3
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.
    Loadinganimation

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.