What is Snapping Scapula Syndrome (Scapulothoracic Bursitis)?
Commonly known as the shoulder blade, the scapula provides a wide range of motion to the upper body and shoulder joint. The scapulothoracic bursa serves an important role within the joint by allowing smooth, pain-free movement of the scapula against the ribcage. When the scapulothoracic bursa, a fluid-filled sac, becomes inflamed from repetitive overuse or a shoulder injury, scapulothoracic bursitis, also known as snapping scapula syndrome, occurs. Dr. Matthew Provencher, orthopedic shoulder specialist serving patients in the Vail, Aspen, Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado area, specializes in treating this common shoulder condition.
Scapulothoracic bursitis, or snapping scapula syndrome, is caused by weakening of the muscles underneath the scapula, leading to the scapula sitting in close proximity to the ribcage. The shoulder condition causes a grinding, grating, and snapping sensation of the scapula on the back area of the ribcage. Young, active patients involved in activities that require continuous overhead motions are commonly affected by scapulothoracic bursitis. Shoulder injuries, such as a ligament tear, or a past shoulder separation, can also lead to the development of this condition.
What are Scapulothoracic Bursitis Symptoms?
Snapping scapula syndrome can be a painful shoulder condition for many patients. The most common symptoms include a dull, contact ache accompanied by a grinding, grating and snapping sensation along the underside of the scapula when it moves against the ribcage. Certain patients may also experience a “bump” from a bone mass on the scapula.
How to know you have Snapping Scapula
Dr. Provencher will perform a physical examination of the affected area in order to diagnose scapulothoracic bursitis, as well as a variety of diagnostic tests. A series of x-rays are typically performed to view the shoulder joint’s bony structures in great detail. An MRI scan may also be performed to gain a better view of the shoulder’s soft structures and confirm the diagnosis.