Ball & socket joint function

Updated July 19, 2017

A ball and socket joint provides a wide range of motion that allows people to have flexibility in their shoulders and hip. This flexibility also means that the ball and socket joints tend to be unstable. Shoulder ball and socket joint injuries are prevalent in activities that require active repetitive movements, including golf, baseball, football, swimming and rock climbing. Understanding the function of the joints can help you protect them against injuries.

Shoulder Joint

The shoulder is comprised of many tendons, ligaments and muscles. However, it is the ball and socket joint that enables the shoulder to have a full range of mobility. This joint enables the shoulder to fully rotate in a circular or outward manner. The "ball" portion of the joint is round and fits inside a cavity referred to as the "socket." The shoulder joint has a wider range of motion than any other joint within the human body.

Shoulder Functions

The shoulder's ball and joint functions by the precise movement of the ball rotating within the cavity of the socket. The ball's rotation inside the cavity enables the range of motion within the shoulder. The ball is protected by cartilage within the socket. Ligaments and tendons are connected to this joint and provide structure and support to the joint.

Hip Joint and Functions

The hip ball and socket is the largest joint of the human body. The "ball" is the head of the femur bone, the largest bone in the leg. The socket is a cavity within the pelvic bone.

The hip ball and socket are multiaxial" According to the University of Michigan Medical school, this means the ball and socket "movement in an almost infinite number of axes through the ball and joint." This allows the hip to flex forward, backward and sideways. Cartilage also surrounds the head of the femur as added protection and allows the mobility for the bones to move seamlessly.

Shoulder Injuries

According to Simon Moyes, an orthopaedic surgeon, there are three common shoulder problems: acromio clavicular joint (ACJ) injury in which the ligaments of the joint become damaged as a result of repetitive use; rotator cuff impingement, which happens when four tendons that cover the ball of the shoulder joint becomes inflamed from overuse; and rotator cuff tear, which occurs when ball and joint tendons tear from overuse. A physician should be consulted whenever you feel pain in your shoulder.

Hip Injuries

According to the State of Victoria's (Australia) Better Health Government website, the main causes of hip ball and joint injuries result from age. These include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, bone fracture and slipped capital femoral epiphysis. Soft tissue pain may result from sports-related injuries. A physician should be consulted whenever you feel pain in your hip.

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About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., John Nguyen has been writing since 2003 and was noted online for his interviews on with Ironman Triathlon Wold Champion and triathlon professionals. He is a marketing strategist by day, and a freelance writer. He attended Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science.