Deltoid Muscle Anatomy

Overview
Origin Anterior head: lateral third of the clavicle
Intermediate head: acromion
Posterior head: spine of the scapula
Insertion Deltoid tuberosity of the humerus
Action Shoulder flexion
Shoulder extension & abduction
Medial and lateral rotation of the humerus
Nerve Axillary nerve (C5, C6)
Artery Thoracoacromial branch of the axillary artery
Posterior circumflex artery
Deltoid branches of the profunda brachii

Location

The shape of the deltoid muscle is a defining feature of the human physique. It is the muscle which surrounds the shoulder joint forming a rounded contour. It is large and triangular in shape. The deltoid muscle is divided into three sets of distinct muscle fibres: the anterior head (clavicular fibers), intermediate/lateral head (acromial fibers) and the posterior head (spinal fibers) [1]Elzanie A, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Deltoid Muscle. [Updated 2021 Jul 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: … Continue reading [2]Peterson SL, Rayan GM. Shoulder and upper arm muscle architecture. J Hand Surg Am. 2011 May;36(5):881-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2011.01.008. PMID: 21527142..

Origin & Insertion

The anterior clavicular fibres originate from the lateral third of the clavicle. The intermediate/lateral acromial fibres originate from the acromion. The posterior spinal fibres originate from the spine of the scapula. All the heads then converge into a single tendon insertion at the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus [3]Miniato MA, Anand P, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Shoulder. [Updated 2021 Jul 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: … Continue reading [4]Moore KL, Agur AMR, Dalley AF. Clinically Oriented Anatomy. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincot Williams & Wilkins; 2017..

Actions

The actions of the deltoid muscle are shoulder flexion, extension and abduction. The different heads will assist more/less depending on the action. For example, during shoulder flexion, the anterior fibres will be utilised more. In abduction, the intermediate/lateral fibres will be utilised more. Finally, during extension of the shoulder, the posterior fibres will be utilised more. A contraction of all three heads simultaneously will result in abduction of the humerus [5]Klarner T, Barss TS, Sun Y, Kaupp C, Zehr EP. Preservation of common rhythmic locomotor control despite weakened supraspinal regulation after stroke. Front Integr Neurosci. 2014 Dec 22;8:95. doi: … Continue reading [6]Elzanie A, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Deltoid Muscle. [Updated 2021 Jul 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: … Continue reading [7]Gasbarro, G., Bondow, B., & Debski, R. (2017). Clinical anatomy and stabilizers of the glenohumeral joint. Annals Of Joint, 2(10)..

In addition to flexion, extension and abduction; the deltoid muscle can also assist the rotator cuff muscles with medial and lateral rotation of the humerus. The anterior fibres contribute to medial rotation and the posterior fibres contribute to lateral rotation [8]Miniato MA, Anand P, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Shoulder. [Updated 2021 Jul 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: … Continue reading.

Innervation

The deltoid muscle is innervated by the axillary nerve (C5, C6) [9]Gasbarro, G., Bondow, B., & Debski, R. (2017). Clinical anatomy and stabilizers of the glenohumeral joint. Annals Of Joint, 2(10). [10]Miniato MA, Anand P, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Shoulder. [Updated 2021 Jul 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: … Continue reading.

Blood Supply

Blood is supplied to the deltoid by the thoracoacromial branch of the axillary artery. The posterior circumflex artery and the deltoid branches of the profunda brachii also provide minor contributions [11]Elzanie A, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Deltoid Muscle. [Updated 2021 Jul 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: … Continue reading.

Images

anterior head of the deltoid

Here we can see the anterior head of the deltoid highlighted in pink.

origin of the anterior head of the deltoid

Here we can see the origin of the anterior head of the deltoid highlighted in red (lateral third of the clavicle).

intermediate/lateral head of the deltoid

Here we can see the intermediate/lateral head of the deltoid highlighted in pink.

origin of the intermediate/lateral head of the deltoid

Here we can see the origin of the intermediate/lateral head of the deltoid highlighted in red (acromion).

posterior head of the deltoid

Here we can see the posterior head of the deltoid highlighted in red.

origin of the posterior head of the deltoid

Here we can see the origin of the posterior head of the deltoid highlighted in red (spine of the scapula).

insertion of the three heads of the deltoid

Here we can see the insertion of the three heads of the deltoid muscle highlighted in blue (deltoid tuberosity of the humerus).

Want some flashcards to help you remember this information? Then click the link below:
Deltoid Flashcards

References

References
1, 6, 11 Elzanie A, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Deltoid Muscle. [Updated 2021 Jul 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537056/
2 Peterson SL, Rayan GM. Shoulder and upper arm muscle architecture. J Hand Surg Am. 2011 May;36(5):881-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2011.01.008. PMID: 21527142.
3, 8, 10 Miniato MA, Anand P, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Shoulder. [Updated 2021 Jul 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536933/
4 Moore KL, Agur AMR, Dalley AF. Clinically Oriented Anatomy. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincot Williams & Wilkins; 2017.
5 Klarner T, Barss TS, Sun Y, Kaupp C, Zehr EP. Preservation of common rhythmic locomotor control despite weakened supraspinal regulation after stroke. Front Integr Neurosci. 2014 Dec 22;8:95. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2014.00095. PMID: 25565995; PMCID: PMC4273616.
7, 9 Gasbarro, G., Bondow, B., & Debski, R. (2017). Clinical anatomy and stabilizers of the glenohumeral joint. Annals Of Joint, 2(10).