Snapping Scapula Syndrome

Snapping scapula syndrome, also known as snapping shoulder syndrome, is a painful condition that occurs when the scapula catches on the muscles or bones of the chest wall.

What You Need To Know About Snapping Scapula Syndrome

What Is Snapping Scapula Syndrome?

The scapula, or shoulder blade, is the biggest bone in the shoulder and has an intricate set of muscles attached to it. When functioning properly, the scapula and surrounding muscles stabilize the arm and shoulder, allowing them to move freely.

Snapping scapula syndrome occurs when the bone, muscles, or bursae sacs become scarred, inflamed, or weak. This positions the scapula too close to the ribcage, causing it to rub painfully against the ribs. Patients with snapping scapula syndrome may experience catching, clicking, grinding, or popping in the shoulder blade.

Snapping shoulder syndrome symptoms can be painful and debilitating. Get moving again by scheduling an appointment with a Resurgens Orthopaedics shoulder physician.

What Causes Snapping Scapula Syndrome?

Snapping shoulder syndrome occurs when the bone or tissue around the shoulder blade is damaged. This can happen because of overuse of the shoulder joint, direct injury, or congenital conditions. Some common causes of snapping shoulder syndrome include:

  • Repetitive overuse of the shoulder blade

  • Improper sports techniques

  • Improper posture

  • Weakness or tightness in the muscles around the shoulderblade

  • Chronic neck or shoulder problems

  • Nerve damage

  • Tumors

  • Congenital deformities

Snapping Scapula Syndrome Symptoms

Snapping scapula syndrome symptoms often include a popping, grating, or grinding sensation when moving the arm and shoulder. The edge of the shoulder blade may feel like it is poking into your ribcage. This can be very painful and may affect your ability to lift your arm or shrug your shoulders.

How is Snapping Scapula Syndrome Diagnosed?

To diagnose snapping shoulder syndrome, your Resurgens shoulder physician will ask you about your medical history and how the injury occurred. They will perform a physical exam to check pain levels and range of motion in the shoulder. This exam is brief and only causes mild discomfort.

Your doctor will order diagnostic imaging, such as x-rays or MRI scans. Once they have this information and have ruled out other potential shoulder conditions, your physician will issue you an official diagnosis and make a treatment plan for your recovery.

Snapping Scapula Syndrome Treatment

There are a few types of surgical and non-surgical treatments for snapping shoulder syndrome. Most mild to moderate cases are successfully treated with non-surgical methods.

Non-Surgical Treatment

There are many non-surgical options for snapping scapula syndrome treatments, such as:

  • Physical therapy

  • Anti-inflammatories to help manage pain

  • Immobilization with a brace or sling

  • Corticosteroid injections

  • RICE therapy

Surgical Treatment

Surgery may be necessary if the snapping scapula syndrome is not responding to non-surgical treatment or if the condition was caused by an abnormality in the shoulder. Your doctor will only suggest surgery if absolutely necessary. This surgery is minimally invasive and has a high rate of success.

During a scapulothoracic bursectomy/partial scapulectomy, the surgeon will make tiny incisions and insert a tiny arthroscopic camera into the scapulothoracic joint. They will remove any inflamed bursae and remove the corner of the scapula closest to the ribcage.

Every snapping scapula case is different, so we customize a treatment plan for each patient. If you are experiencing debilitating pain in your shoulder, make an appointment with a Resurgens shoulder physician today.

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