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Click, Pop, & Crack!

That click pop and crack in your shoulder can develop for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs protecting your joint
  • Labral tears: Torn cartilage due to injury, age, or overuse
  • Rotator cuff injuries: Damage to the muscles and tendons 
  • Dislocation: Your joint slips out of place
  • Osteoarthritis: Cartilage degeneration in your joints 

Anatomy of the Shoulder

The shoulder joint consists of the upper arm bone (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula) and the collar bone (clavicle). The shoulder has several muscles including the rotator cuff and is one of them most mobile joints in the body.  

The shoulder is unique in that some the muscles sit beneath the bones and even travel between them. When we:

  • Move the arm overhead
  • Reach in front or behind our back
  • Rotate the arm counter clockwise toward the midline

we are causing the bones to move around the underlying muscles as well as the overlying muscles. 

When we don’t have proper posture or repetitively do these motions without the proper strength, the bones can rub on the muscles and tendons causing them to become inflamed. It is this inflammation that then makes the shoulder feel “tight” and results in clicking, popping, cracking, pain and restricted range of motion in the shoulder. This sensation is also referred to as crepitus. 

Common Signs and Symptoms of Shoulder Inflammation/ Muscle Tears/ Labral Tears/ Impingement:

  • Shoulder Pain
    • Aching at rest or pain with sleeping
    • Inability to reach overhead- pain when reaching into a cabinet
    • Inability to reach behind your back- pain putting a belt on or hooking bra strap
    • Pain radiating down the shoulder and into the arm
  • Shoulder Weakness or loss of strength

Why Seek Help from a Physical Therapist?

It is important to address shoulder pain immediately because of the likelihood that the condition will worsen if not taken care of by professionals. Most shoulder pain can be resolved through postural education and shoulder and mid back strengthening. Too often, people experience shoulder pain and immediately think that surgery is needed and they either jump to see an orthopedic or they ignore the problem because they don’t want surgery. 

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