Does Snapping Scapula Syndrome Cause Pain?

Sometimes you tend to hear a few clicking or grinding sounds when moving or flexing your shoulders. This sound is caused by the joint scapulothoracic which is located where the scapula, also called the shoulder blade, rests against the chest wall. These sounds are very rare in a normal person.

The grinding, grating and thumping sounds produced when moving your muscles are described by doctors as snapping scapula syndrome. But, does snapping scapula syndrome cause pain?


Causes of Snapping Scapula Syndrome: Let us look at the causes of snapping scapula syndrome.

  • Repetitive and frequent motions of the shoulder like baseball pitching or bowling lay a huge stress on the shoulder. Upon such repetitive actions, the tissues in shoulder joints tend to get inflamed. Due to inflammation the shoulder blade tissues would thicken. This thickening causes the snapping scapula problem in the shoulder.
  • Also, during the aging process, muscles tend to grow weak and this could cause the scapula muscles to grind against the rib cage while moving the shoulders. This grinding phenomenon might lead to an alignment problem in the bones of the joint scapulothoracic. This could be another reason for snapping scapula syndrome.
  • Sometimes bones in the scapula’s upper edge might develop abnormal curves (could be due to a case of rib fracture). Such abnormalities could cause the body to develop a new bursa (a sack filled with fluid in the scapula that keeps the tissues of the shoulder from friction). The formation of an extra bursa could cause inflammation leading to a phenomenon called bursitis.

Does Snapping Scapula Syndrome Cause Pain?: Normally a snapping scapula syndrome only causes the muscles in the scapula to grind against the chest wall. This would lead to thumping and snapping sounds being heard from the shoulder. Apart from the sounds, there is no great deal of pain incurred by the patient.

But, any development of an extra bursa might lead to bursitis and this would involve a great deal of pain. You might not be able to experience any snapping sounds. But, that extra bursa would be very sore and even a slight touch would cause a great deal of pain. The tissues in the extra bursa are very thick and this can be felt upon touching.

So, does snapping scapula syndrome cause pain? Not usually, unless and until you develop bursitis which could be extremely painful.

2 responses to Does Snapping Scapula Syndrome Cause Pain?

  1. i was diagnosed with s^3 by my orthopedic surgeon. i’ve returned to school after leaving due to this s^3. the pain affects me severely. i’ve lost my ability to focus. there is much pain 24/7. when stressed the pain can bring insanity…there is much pain to grinding 24/7 all your life. i hope to get surgery next year and hope i can finish my second attempt at school. so far i’m afraid i will fail.

    • I had 2 operations for a snapping scapula 20 years ago. There was a great improvement after the second operation, but as years have gone by I still get a great deal of pain. I have had various forms of physio and massage which don’t seem to help. But the pain is far less than that before the operations where I had to sit upright in a chair at night to just get slight comfort as there was no way I could sleep. Hope you get your operation soon.

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