Snapping Scapula Syndrome

Snapping scapula syndrome is a popping, clicking, or grinding sensation in the shoulder blade (scapula). This condition is prominent when lifting or moving the arm and ranges from a mild inconvenience to disabling pain.


Snapping scapula syndrome is usually caused by overuse of the arm, poor posture, or shoulder injuries. Athletes who train excessively may experience this condition. Some cases of congenital bone, soft tissue, and inflamed bursae can also lead to snapping scapula syndrome.


The primary symptoms of snapping scapula syndrome are grinding or snapping sensations along the edge of the shoulder blade. Popping or catching during movement are also common. In some people, the shoulder may feel weak and it will be difficult to move the arm above the head.


Physicians will review symptoms and conduct a physical exam to diagnose snapping scapula syndrome. Imaging tests such as x-rays and MRIs may also be used to identify the injury and rule out other damage to the spine, ribs, and shoulder blade.


Snapping scapula syndrome usually responds well to rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. If conservative treatments are not effective or if symptoms worsen, surgery may be beneficial.

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