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Supraspinatus muscle: Wikis


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Supraspinatus muscle
Arm muscles back numbers.png
Muscles on the dorsum of the scapula, and the Triceps brachii muscle: #3 is Latissimus dorsi muscle
#5 is Teres major muscle
#6 is Teres minor muscle
#7 is Supraspinatus muscle
#8 is Infraspinatus muscle
#13 is long head of Triceps brachii muscle
Posterior view of muscles connecting the upper extremity to the vertebral column. Supraspinatus muscle is labeled in red at right, while it is covered by other muscles at left.
Latin musculus supraspinatus
Gray's subject #123 440
Origin supraspinous fossa of scapula
Insertion    superior facet of greater tubercle of humerus
Artery suprascapular artery
Nerve suprascapular nerve
Actions abduction of arm and stabilizes humerus see part on controversy of action.

The supraspinatus is a relatively small muscle of the upper limb that takes its name from its origin from the supraspinous fossa superior to the spine of the scapula. It is one of the four rotator cuff muscles and also abducts the arm at the shoulder. The spine of the scapula separates the supraspinatus muscle from the infraspinatus muscle, which originates below the spine.



The supraspinatus muscle arises from the supraspinous fossa, a shallow depression in the body of the scapular above its spine. The supraspinatus muscle tendon passes laterally beneath the cover of the acromion. Research in 1996 showed that the postero-lateral origin was more lateral than classically described[1][2].


The supraspinatus tendon is inserted into the most superior facet of the greater tubercle of the humerus.

The distal attachments of the three rotator cuff muscles that insert into the greater tubercle of the humerus can be abbreviated as SIT when viewed from superior to inferior (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, and Teres minor).

The mnemonic SITS regarding the rotator cuff muscles is completed by including the Subscapularis muscle, which unlike the other rotator cuff muscles attaches to the lesser tubercle of the humerus.[1] ..


The supraspinatus muscle is supplied by the suprascapular nerve (C5 and C6), which arises from the superior trunk of the brachial plexus and passes laterally through the posterior triangle of the neck and through the scapular notch on the superior border of the scapula. After supplying fibers to the supraspinatus muscle, it supplies articular branches to the capsule of the shoulder joint.

This nerve can be damaged along its course in fractures of the overlying clavicle, which can reduce the person’s ability to initiate the abduction.


Contraction of the supraspinatus muscle leads to abduction of the arm at the shoulder joint. It is the main agonist muscle for this movement during the first 30 degrees of its arc. Beyond 30 degrees the deltoid muscle becomes increasingly more effective at abducting the arm and becomes the main propagator of this action.

The supraspinatus muscle is one of the musculotendinous support structures called the rotator cuff that surround and enclose the shoulder. It helps to resist the inferior gravitational forces placed across the shoulder joint due to the downward pull from the weight of the upper limb.

The supraspinatus also helps to stabilize the shoulder joint by keeping the head of the humerus firmly pressed medially against the glenoid fossa of the scapula.

Controversy about Action

A study done in 1963 "Function of the Supraspinatus Muscle and its Relation to the Supraspinatus syndrome - An experimental in Man" by B Van Linge and J D Mulder in Leiden, Holland showed that the supraspinatus does not cause the abduction of the first 30 degrees, as widely accepted, but rather is a synergist muscle. This means that it assists with power of the deltoid, but is not, by itself the abducting muscle. In this study, the supraspinatus was anaesthetised, and the deltoid muscle was still able to complete a full range of abduction, however was not able to sustain an isometric contraction for more than 1 minute. From this study, it is suggested that the "true" action of supraspinatus is to hold the capsule in position to allow greater functional strength and stamina of the deltoid muscle.

This study can be found in "the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery" vol 45B, No. 4, November 1963 pp750–754

Additional images


  1. ^ Mnemonic at 35

External links



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