The sternoclavicular articulation is a double arthrodial joint. The parts entering into its formation are the sternal end of the clavicle, the upper and lateral part of the manubrium sterni, and the cartilage of the first rib. The articular surface of the clavicle is much larger than that of the sternum, and is invested with a layer of cartilage, which is considerably thicker than that on the latter bone. The ligaments of this joint are:

  • Articular capsule
  • Articular disc
  • Anterior sternoclavicular ligament
  • Posterior sternoclavicular ligament
  • Costoclavicular ligament
  • Interclavicular ligament

The Articular Capsule (capsula articularis; capsular ligament).—The articular capsule surrounds the articulation and varies in thickness and strength. In front and behind it is of considerable thickness, and forms the anterior and posterior sternoclavicular ligaments; but above, and especially below, it is thin and partakes more of the character of areolar than of true fibrous tissue.

Synovial Membranes.—Of the two synovial membranes found in this articulation, the lateral is reflected from the sternal end of the clavicle, over the adjacent surface of the articular disk, and around the margin of the facet on the cartilage of the first rib; the medial is attached to the margin of the articular surface of the sternum and clothes the adjacent surface of the articular disk; the latter is the larger of the two.

Movements.—This articulation admits of a limited amount of motion in nearly every direction—upward, downward, backward, forward, as well as circumduction. When these movements take place in the joint, the clavicle in its motion carries the scapula with it, this bone gliding on the outer surface of the chest. This joint therefore forms the center from which all movements of the supporting arch of the shoulder originate, and is the only point of articulation of the shoulder girdle with the trunk. The movements attendant on elevation and depression of the shoulder take place between the clavicle and the articular disk, the bone rotating upon the ligament on an axis drawn from before backward through its own articular facet; when the shoulder is moved forward and backward, the clavicle, with the articular disk rolls to and fro on the articular surface of the sternum, revolving, with a sliding movement, around an axis drawn nearly vertically through the sternum; in the circumduction of the shoulder, which is compounded of these two movements, the clavicle revolves upon the articular disk and the latter, with the clavicle, rolls upon the sternum. Elevation of the shoulder is limited principally by the costoclavicular ligament; depression, by the interclavicular ligament and articular disk. The muscles which raise the shoulder are the upper fibers of the Trapezius, the Levator scapulæ, and the clavicular head of the Sternocleidomastoideus, assisted to a certain extent by the Rhomboidei, which pull the vertebral border of the scapula backward and upward and so raise the shoulder. The depression of the shoulder is principally effected by gravity assisted by the Subclavius, Pectoralis minor and lower fibers of the Trapezius. The shoulder is drawn backward by the Rhomboidei and the middle and lower fibers of the Trapezius, and forward by the Serratus anterior and Pectoralis minor.

This definition incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy (20th U.S. edition of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, published in 1918 – from


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