Posterior Glenohumeral Subluxation: Active and Passive Stabilization in a Biomechanical Model*

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We examined the role of the glenohumeral and coracohumeral ligaments as well as the forces provided by the rotator cuff muscles, the long head of the biceps, the anterior and middle deltoids, and the pectoralis major in the stabilization of the glenohumeral joint in the posterior direction. Simulated muscle forces were mechanically applied to eight shoulder specimens. The humeroscapular position for testing simulated the 90-degree forward-flexion (humerothoracic) position used clinically for the so-called jerk test, which is the most clinically important position with regard to posterior instability of the shoulder. Experiments were performed with a variety of configurations of ligamentous and capsular cuts, humeral rotation, and levels of muscle force. Stability was investigated by measuring the force required to subluxate the humeral head a specified amount from its reduced position. Of the muscles and ligaments tested, the subscapularis muscle contributed the most to this subluxation force. The coracohumeral ligament was an effective contributor in neutral humeral rotation, and the inferior glenohumeral ligament was an effective contributor in internal humeral rotation. The long head of the biceps was found to reduce the subluxation force in certain positions.Clinical RelevanceIt is widely agreed that a complex interaction of passive and active stabilizing structures and forces is necessary for clinical stability of the shoulder. The present study identified the contributions of ligaments and muscles to posterior stability of the shoulder in the position of greatest clinical importance-posterior subluxation with the shoulder in forward flexion.

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