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Snapping Scapula Syndrome

What is Snapping Scapula Syndrome?

Snapping scapula syndrome is a condition where the shoulder blade (scapula) rubs against the rib cage during certain shoulder movements. This produces a clicking sensation that can often be heard as well as felt. In certain people, this clicking is also painful. 

The reason for the scapula rubbing against the ribcage is usually a combination of bony prominences from the scapula and abnormal motion of the many small muscles that control the position of the scapula when the arm is moving. This abnormal motion is called scapular dyskinesia. Pain occurs when structures between the scapula and the rib cage are compressed and irritated. In most cases, this irritated tissue is the bursa between the two bones. A bursa is a bag-like structure that allows two surfaces to glide smoothly past each other. 

Treatment for Snapping Scapula Syndrome

Snapping scapula syndrome only requires treatment if it is causing symptoms. Specialist physiotherapy is necessary to retrain the scapula muscles to control the scapula. A steroid injection can help reduce the inflammation and pain in a bursa. In rare cases, surgery is necessary to remove a bony prominence from the underside of the scapula.