Medical Definition of Scapula

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Scapula: The shoulder blade (or "wingbone"), the familiar flat triangular bone at the back of the shoulder.

The word "scapula" (with the accent on the first syllable) is Latin. The Romans always employed the plural "scapulae", the shoulder blades. Because the shoulder blade resembles the blade of a trowel (a small shovel), the word "scapula" is thought to have come from the Greek "skaptein" meaning "to dig."

The term "subscapular" means under (sub) the scapula. The subscapularis muscle originates beneath the scapula. This muscle moves the arm by turning it inward (internal rotation). The subscapularis muscle tendon is part of the rotator cuff.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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