Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

I injured a nerve to my shoulder blade when my arm was jerked in a waterskiing accident a few months ago. For a while afterwards, my shoulder blade really tilted out. This seems to be better, but now I'm getting a lot of popping and snapping under shoulder blade. Is it from my injury? What can I do to correct the snapping problem?

Answer:

Chances are good that the two problems are related. It is possible that the jerk on your arm injured the long thoracic nerve. This nerve activates the serratus anterior muscle, which helps hold the shoulder blade snuggly against the chest wall. When this muscle isn't working right, the shoulder blade can tilt like you've mentioned. Also, the muscle may have started to atrophy (shrink) from the nerve injury.

Both of these problems can cause the shoulder blade to pop and grate with movement of the shoulder blade. You may need to work with a physical or occupational therapist to help get the shoulder blade into better alignment. Bulking up the muscles under the shoulder blade may add just enough padding and space between the shoulder blade and chest wall to make the popping and snapping go away.



*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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