Background: Both static and dynamic factors are responsible for glenohumeral joint stability. We hypothesized that dynamic factors could potentially operate throughout the entire range of glenohumeral motion, although capsuloligamentous restraints (a static factor) have been thought to be primarily responsible for stability in the end-range of motion. The purpose of this study was to quantitatively compare the dynamic glenohumeral joint stability in the end-range of motion (the position of anterior instability) with that in the mid-range by investigating the force components generated by the rotator cuff muscles
Methods: Ten fresh-frozen shoulders from human cadavera were obtained, and all soft tissues except the rotator cuff were removed. The glenohumeral capsule was resected after the rotator cuff muscles had been released from the scapula. A specially designed frame positioned the humerus in 60 degrees of abduction and 45 degrees of extension with respect to the scapula. The compressive and shear components on the glenoid were measured before and after a constant force was applied individually to each muscle with the humerus in five different positions (from neutral to 90 degrees of external rotation). The dynamic stability index, a new biomechanical parameter reflecting these force components and the concavity-compression mechanism, was calculated. The higher the dynamic stability index, the greater the dynamic glenohumeral stability.
Results: In the mid-range of motion, the supraspinatus and subscapularis provided higher dynamic stability indices than did the other muscles (p < 0.05). On the other hand, when the position of anterior instability was simulated in the end-range of motion, the subscapularis, infraspinatus, and teres minor provided significantly higher dynamic stability indices than did the supraspinatus (p < 0.005).
Conclusions: The rotator cuff provided substantial anterior dynamic stability to the glenohumeral joint in the end-range of motion as well as in the mid-range.
Clinical Relevance: A glenohumeral joint with a lax capsule and ligaments might be stabilized dynamically in the end-range of motion if the glenoid concavity is maintained and the function of the external and internal rotators, which are efficient stabilizers in this position, is enhanced.