Scapulothoracic Bursitis (Snapping Scapula Syndrome) Overview
Snapping scapula syndrome is a condition of the shoulder that involves the scapula (the shoulder blade), and the ribcage. Over one third of total shoulder movement occurs between these two body parts. Fluid-filled sacs, known as bursa, are an important part of this motion and help achieve smooth, frictionless movement. Snapping scapula syndrome, also known as scapulothoracic bursitis, is described by a grating, grinding, popping or snapping sensation of the scapula on the back side of the ribs. Austin, Round Rock, and Cedar Park, Texas communities shoulder specialist, Dr. Jeff Padalecki, specializes in a number of shoulder injuries, including scapulothoracic bursitis.
This injury occurs when the muscles underneath the scapula become weak causing the scapula to become very close to the rib cage, eventually causing rubbing or bumping during arm/shoulder movement. Bursitis occurs when the bursa sacs that lubricate the area between the shoulder blade and scapula become inflamed.
This injury is most common in young, active patients who participate in repetitive overhead activity or the throwing motion. However, there are other factors that may also lead to this condition, including a former shoulder separation, arthritis, or a tear in one of the ligaments or muscles that surround this region.
What are the Symptoms of Scapulothoracic Bursitis?
The symptoms of snapping scapula vary based on what is actually causing the problem. Patients typically describe a snapping, grating or grinding sensation along the edge or underside of the scapula as it moves along the ribs. Some patients may feel a “bump” on the scapula from a bony mass. Scapulothoracic bursitis can be painful, especially with overhead movements due to the inflammation of the bursa. Most patients complain of a constant, dull ache.
How is Scapulothoracic Bursitis Diagnosed?
Various diagnostic tests may be performed after a thorough physical examination by Dr. Padalecki. These help to rule out soft-tissue and bone disorders, which may cause impingement near the shoulder blade and/or ribcage. In most cases, Dr. Padalecki will rely on an X-ray to assess the bony structures of the joint. In some cases where an X-ray is not offering a good view, he will order an MRI to help confirm his diagnosis.