Discussions By Condition: Shoulder conditions

Snapping Scapula Syndrome

Posted In: Shoulder conditions 99 Replies
  • Posted By: thomasans
  • March 13, 2007
  • 10:24 PM

After complaining of scapula pain for months, an MRI was done and I needed rotator cuff repair, and my bicep was releaseed. I went to therapy post op and seem to have recovered from the surgery just fine. The problem is the scapula pain is back and hurting worse than before. The scapula rubs and clicks when moved. It feels like a pinched nerve and is making me suicidal. Have tried several antii inflamitorys as well as narcotics with little relief. My doctor has said I should learn to "live with the pain". I just don't think anyone should have to if there may be a solution. I have found a few MD's who have successfully treated symptoms similar to mine, but they are over 1000 miles away. I believe I could have scapulothoracic bursa that are inflamed, some interference to a nerve that is close to my scapula, or perhaps just muscle atrophy . I can't get any ortho in Spokane to address these issues. Is it because they don't know or don't want to be bothered. One ortho said " snapping scapula isn't painfull". It's not imagined-IT HURTS like ***l.
Any suggestions ? I was looking at the MAYO clinic in Minn as a last option.. Thanks

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  • I completely uderstand your frustration. I am daling with the same thing I think i have snapping scapula syndrome. All i can say is **** the doctor that told you to live in pain. Keep searching for a doctor. I hear Mass General Hospital is an excellent place that can treat almost any shoulder problems. Good LUCK!!!I been like in miserable pain for 2 years. I am looking into surgery as well.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have dealt with this problem "Syndrome" since my early 20's. I am now in mylate 30's,and it consumes my every waking moments. The pain is intense!,andI too am at a point where conventional treatments have passed. On a "guineapig scale" (Try this/try that/It must be you/When did it start/etc..etc..) I amat a 9 (1-10) The word surgery was first introduced to me when I was 24,andthat was to do some scraping of my scapula. All was ok with the Dr. until hedeveloped a semi-hateful tone one afternoon in 1995. I did not return to thatortho physician. I have had several doctors who seem willing to mention surgery,but they are not willing to approach my "Syndrome" with earnest care.As I say I am at a level 9. My quality of life is not! This does nothing for me interms of emotional balance. It is no wonder that a person would become enhancely depressed. The medications,The Therapies,The Frustration,The Pain!! Getting any doctor to understand the amount of Pain this "Syndrome"causes is without a doubt a huge problem. Most Physicians always want youto "prove" to them what it sounds like (Push against the wall/Twist this way)When pain is soo bad that even minimal movement is added into the process of elimination in one's life. This is serious. I would have never,ever envisionedmy life being this way. I used to love activities/Hobbies,Now I am scared as***l as to what my limitations are. I cant be myself without popping in a vast amount of pills. The idea of any surgery freaks me out. I do say that had I been in my 50's or 60's when this "Syndrome" started I would not be sent on countless years of (Try this /Try that) promoting. The perception is vastlydifferent when age is factored in. Youth,is supposed to present itself as strong and sustainable. Some of the best years of my life have been spentbattling my progressive pain. Doctors often ask,What gives you relief? and my answer is always REM Sleep (unconscious sleep) They expect you to answerwith a prescription or some other pill. That is the only time I am truly withoutpain. Now,getting to that kind of sleep is a task in itself...........Insomnia! Allthis explanation is what gets vested in this "Syndrome" or as I like to say to ease my burden....Snapping Crapula! As i said,This is serious,and anyone who reads this or any other thread regarding this "Snapping Scapula Syndrome" isresearching,looking,and processing a culmination of history.-Please Reply-
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I was diagnosed with snapping shoulder syndrome in 1996 and was discharged from the military. but the VA doctors here in Penna. seem to down play my symptoms untill i got a congressman involved then i was given a true evaluation and was told i have Scapula bursitis which he said it is a form of arthritis and to live with the pain and i have. But when i have a flare up i can take a knife to my neck and shoulders and cut out the pain and feel as if i won't even feel it. I had to get 2 kidney tests and a liver test because the naproxyn that i take is effecting the fucton of these organs. I really don't want surgery from a doctor who down plays my condition and i heard rumors that the surgery is quite invasive. Any suggestions please reply.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I had a "snapping" in my shoulder and it was diagnosed without imaging to be a bursa.BursitisI was given steriods to take for five days. It took all five days, but it is now gone!!! A lung/sleep specialist diagnosed it. An older doctor who knows his stuff!!! Check into bursa, bursitis.Good luck!
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Okay everyone - take heart - I think I have the answer we've been looking for. I joined this site just so I could share this information - I don't want anyone to go through what I have. After 19 years of pain/aches/10 doctors/five different diagnosis'/pt/cortisone shots and cervical disc injections, I have finally been diagnosed with snapping scapula. (I did this on my own by googling my symptoms last week after having another ortho. surgeon tell me I needed disc replacement surgery.) I ran across the name Dr. Gregory Nicholson at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Medical Center in Chicago, got a referral, and an office visit within three days. He confirmed my own diagnosis. He has performed over 50 surgical procedures called a Scapulothoracic Bursectomy - with a very high success rate - 75% pain free and the rest with a little pain - but much better than they were. My surgery is scheduled for June. It's a one-night hospital stay, arm in a sling for four weeks, and a return to full use (even if you're a brick layer) in approx. 3.5 months. To FINALLY see a light at the end of a very long tunnel is indescribable. You can read a portion of a surgical follow up study he did at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov - look it up under his name: Nicholson GP or Scapulothoracic bursectomy for snapping scapula syndrome. Or google his name and snapping scapula and see what comes up. He just had a doctor from Kansas fly up to Chicago to have him perform this surgery - if another doctor trusted him with his body I guess I can. (Plus he's also listed as a team doc for the White Sox and Bulls.) I will try to follow up on this forum after I have the surgery in mid-June. By the way, if you don't want this problem, I wouldn't recommend water skiing backwards around a lake trying to impress your new husband and his co-workers. (That was 19 years ago - I'm wiser now.) Hope this helps!
    Snappy 4 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hello Snappy,I am wondering if you had your surgery. I have the same condition as you and maybe heading to surgery if the doctor wants to go that route. I am all for it because a couple of decades of pain is enough. Just curious as to your condition post surg. Thanks.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi,Actually, I am having my surgery on Monday 6/18. Should be home on Tuesday, but not sure I'll be in a condition to formulate coherent sentences! I'll try to respond as soon as possible afterwards, though.Joan
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • After literally years of pain, a removal of my lower scapula, otheos, physios, chiros, accupuncture, massage, not tomention lots and lots of my own worked hard for money.......i have just been told i have this syndrome. I live in Australia and no one here has seemed to have heard about it. I have been branded a hypochondriac which isnt great for the self esteem.Im am in constant anxiety about my future as i would like to start a family soon but feel pregnancy is out of the question due to my constant pain in my shoulder. My pain is only related to my left shoulder...and rediates around to the front of my chest and under my arm.I am sick of just putting up with this like the rest of you....there must be something,,,there must be
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Had open back scapulothoracic bursectomy surgery with Dr. Gregory Nicholson last week. He removed the inner, upper corner of my scapula, plus inflammed bursa around shoulder blade. Said the inflammation was "impressive." Predicts 75-80% reduction in my pain - based on having this for almost 19 years. Still too early to tell - but at one week later the pain from surgery is quite tolerable. Lots of pain medication immediately afterwards and for two-three days, but only stayed in hosp. one night. Can't say enough good things about Oak Park Hospital staff (near Chicago). Too early to tell how successful surgery was. Am wearing a sling for a month and have to be very careful about not using or stretching arm too much. (Had 16 staples removed from six-inch incision this morning - piece of cake.) Dr. Nicholson is with Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Hosp. in Chicago. He has done over 50 of these surgeries. Feels very strongly that open back surgery for this condition is the most appropriate. Feels that arthroscopic doesn't do much. For those of you not close to Chicago, try calling university hospitals closer to you with sports medicine programs to find someone familiar with this syndrome. I am very hopeful - will post another reply in a few weeks with an update.Blessings and don't give up!
    Snappy 4 Replies Flag this Response
  • It's been one month since my surgery, had post-op with Dr. Nicholson at Rush in Chicago yesterday. The original aching/pain and crunching/snapping sound in my shoulder blade/back is gone. I'm only feeling discomfort from the surgery as everything heals. (My rhomboid muscle is reattaching itself to the scapula and the six-inch incision is still tender.) They removed a 3"x4" "tremendously tenacious, fibrotic bursa" from under the scapula (normally your bursa is a gelatinous soft lining between muscles), and shaved off a sharp bone nub on the inside of the scapula that was rubbing against my rib cage. No wonder I was in pain for 19 years! I have already grown new bursa to replace the old inflammed stuff. I only need mild physical therapy to basically keep everything moving - after 3 or 4 visits I'll be able to do it myself - and take it easy for the next 1-2 months to let everything heal completely. To anyone considering this surgery, I highly recommend it. Don't let someone try this arthroscopically - they can't get everything done through a little hole - you have to have open back surgery to get these results - and it isn't that bad! Read one of my earlier posts for more info. on the surgery and Dr. Nicholson. I will post again in another month with an update.
    Snappy 4 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hello!! i have been reading your posts and i am going to see Dr. Nicholson this week. i too, have this i have had it for probably 4 years. last year i had my 8th rib removed, it had a bump on it and it was getting stuck on my scapula. so now i am ready for this surgery. i am so grateful to hav eyour imput. please let me know how you are feeling. my email is S_elleman@yahoo.com, email any time would love to chat!!
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • August 20, 2007
    • 09:03 PM
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  • Note to S Elleman - the email I tried to send came back as undeliverable. Please reply again with a corrected email - I would love to correspond. It's been two months since surgery - most if not all of my original pain appears to be gone. Some sensitivity around incision and a little aching deeper inside from healing (I think), plus my serratus muscle (stretched during surgery), which attaches from scapula around to lower rib, is a little sore in front, since I've started using the arm more. Went to phys. therapy once - will go back a second time just to confirm I'm doing things right. Therapy is very easy. Make sure you have good insurance! Between Dr. N and the hospital, the cost is going to be around $28K! I had the surgery done at Rush Oak Park Hosp. (about 5 miles west of downtown Rush University Hosp.) It might be less expensive at the university hospital? You'll have to check. The staff at Oak Park was awesome, tho. Look forward to your reponse - interested to hear how your appointment went.Joan
    Snappy 4 Replies
    • August 22, 2007
    • 01:34 AM
    • 0
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  • hey!! well the email you can use is selleman@calamos.com-its my work email but thats fine. that is so great that you are out of pain. how old are you?? i am 21 by the way. so what exactly happened when you went to see Dr. Nicholson?? is he nice?? how did he come to the conclusion of surgery. i just wabnt teh surgery and i want this to be doine and over with. how was the surgery?? big scar?? im not too worried about scarring. last year my rib was removed...it had a bump on it and it was getting cought on my scapula to cause me even more pain..and the doc's thought that, thats why i was in pain-but noi had that and this snapping scapula. how lucky am I!!please email me back whenever you get a chance!! thanks for the reply--i am going to see him Tomorrow at 9AM!!
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • August 23, 2007
    • 01:43 PM
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  • To Snappy and Group,As I was reading through Snappy's posts, I thought for a minute that was me! I, too, had snapping scapula for 17 years. If I had a dollar for every doctor in town that told me "nothing is wrong with you" - let's just say I wouldn't have to work full time! I finally found Dr. Nicholson - through similar means of researching the syndrome, symptons and treatments online. He is a wonderful man and his staff is amazing. Stacey his PA it tremendous and the nurses at Oak Park are the best around. I am just short of one week post op and am only wishing I had done this sooner. I traveled from Omaha, NE, to have the surgery and it was absolutely the right thing to do. Good luck to all on the site that are considering the surgery or that are living with this insipid syndrome. The pain can definitely leave you feeling helpless, but know that there is treatment available. I'm so glad to have found this site, and please keep in touch. God Bless!
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • October 7, 2007
    • 04:00 AM
    • 0
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  • gE48BKhi, my name is cindy and I am 41years old, I have always been very active running, snowskiing and I taught 2nd grade for 8 yrs. My life took a drastic change about 2 yrs ago, at first I had a dull ache in my right scapula that made a grinding sound when i moved it, I went to my 1st ortho dr and did physiscal therapy, It only made it worse I have been in pain for 2 years, The last year it is so bad I can't function or work. I have tried chiros, injections 3 times. physical therapy for 2 years. Ive also had mris on my spine and scapula I live in Amarillo,Tx and have seen 4 ortho dr's, and 1 spine Dr. I always do every thing they tell me to do,but I'm only worse. One of the Drs talked about the surgury that you had but doesn't want to do it, honestly I don't think he's ever performed that kind of surgery Now the grinding noise is much worse and the pain is off the charts I have been diagnosed with scapulathorasic bursitis by 3 docs, thorasisc outlet syndrome (which I don't think I have) and scapula dettachment. I flew to Dallas last year and He's the dr. that said I thorasic outlet syndrome, he put me in a brace and told me to work on my posture(it didn't work) I have to get out of this pain. i heard about a Dr. who specializes in scapular disfunction in Lexington Kentucky. I flew down and he diagnosed me w/ scapular detachment. He says it doesn't show up on MRI's. I had my surgery the end of August this year. He said it was dettached and torn. He is the only Dr. that does this surgery. Unfortunatly I am in worse shape than before the surgery and I still have the popping grinding noise at my check up I asked if he looked at my bursa ( I asked this question because I have always believed that I have what you had snapping scapula W/ inflamed bursa)and he said he didn't go that far. I had a CT and they didn't see a bursa did you have that test?
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • October 14, 2007
    • 06:41 PM
    • 0
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  • gE48BKhi, my name is cindy and I am 41years old, I have always been very active running, snowskiing and I taught 2nd grade for 8 yrs. My life took a drastic change about 2 yrs ago, at first I had a dull ache in my right scapula that made a grinding sound when i moved it, I went to my 1st ortho dr and did physiscal therapy, It only made it worse I have been in pain for 2 years, The last year it is so bad I can't function or work. I have tried chiros, injections 3 times. physical therapy for 2 years. Ive also had mris on my spine and scapula I live in Amarillo,Tx and have seen 4 ortho dr's, and 1 spine Dr. I always do every thing they tell me to do,but I'm only worse. One of the Drs talked about the surgury that you had but doesn't want to do it, honestly I don't think he's ever performed that kind of surgery Now the grinding noise is much worse and the pain is off the charts I have been diagnosed with scapulathorasic bursitis by 3 docs, thorasisc outlet syndrome (which I don't think I have) and scapula dettachment. I flew to Dallas last year and He's the dr. that said I thorasic outlet syndrome, he put me in a brace and told me to work on my posture(it didn't work) I have to get out of this pain. i heard about a Dr. who specializes in scapular disfunction in Lexington Kentucky. I flew down and he diagnosed me w/ scapular detachment. He says it doesn't show up on MRI's. I had my surgery the end of August this year. He said it was dettached and torn. He is the only Dr. that does this surgery. Unfortunatly I am in worse shape than before the surgery and I still have the popping grinding noise at my check up I asked if he looked at my bursa ( I asked this question because I have always believed that I have what you had snapping scapula W/ inflamed bursa)and he said he didn't go that far. I had a CT and they didn't see a bursa did you have that test?Dear Cindy, A Dr. Dean in Beaufort, South Carolina, does a surgery for snapping scapula. HE IS FANTASTIC! I've had the surgery on both sides. I woke up feeling better than when I was put to sleep. I had been diagnosed by 15 doctors in a 10-year period as having fibromialgia. This was wrong. Dr. Dean can help you.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • October 23, 2007
    • 10:26 PM
    • 0
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  • Just wanted to find out more about this Snapping Scapula crap. I have seen 5 different docs from (1)Nuero/(2)orthro/(2)physio Thep. Been told that I have minor compressed cervical disks c5-c7 and T-1 junction/ CTS/ Nothing at all and to deal with it. I am in the military and I have been dealing with this for almost a year. I was reading about all this and went looking for DR. Nicholson and just got the Navy to refer me out to see him. Let you know how it goes.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • February 13, 2008
    • 04:00 PM
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  • Hi All,I too wonder if this is what is wrong with me. I have only more recently been experiencing symptoms. It starts with a sharp pain under my left shoulder blade then by the end of the day it has radiated through my back to my other shoulder. The whole upper part of my back through my chest feels tight. It is very painful. I have a hard time getting a deep breath which becomes terrifying. By the end of the day I have very limited mobility and the pain I am in is unbelievable. I had an 'episode' of this about 2 weeks ago and it lasted for 3 or 4 days. Then it flared up again 2 days ago. The only reason I can even type this is that when I wake up in the morning it seems to be somewhat at bay. I am sure as the day progresses I will not have the physical ability to type. The worse thing about my situation is that I do not have insurance right now. My husband worked for a home builder and I had been in construction management for years. When the housing market crashed there most of the small and mid-sized builders went under or drastically reduced their staff. Which left my husband and I with no job, no insurance, and just two of a couple thousand people in the same boat. We moved from Florida and relocated to Georgia hoping that the market was stronger here. We are getting by okay now but still no insurance. We certainly don't have the financial resources to go from doctor to doctor until someone happens to diagnose my condition properly. I feel so helpless. I know that the pain I feel is not something I can live with long term. I don't know what to do.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • February 19, 2008
    • 02:02 PM
    • 0
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  • Has anybody experienced any nerve pain running down their arm secondary to snapping scapula syndrome? I think I may have been misdiagnosed and undergone unnecessary spinal surgery due to several doctors missing the (snapping scapula syndrome) SSS diagnosis. Here's the story:My right shoulder has been "crunching and grinding" for years, and three different orthopedists have given me the same advice many of you have received, namely, "well, don't move around, and it won't pop or grind!" VERY helpful... Based on what I've seen here and elsewhere, it seems likely that I have SSS.About six months ago, I developed a sudden stabbing pain deep in my right deltoid, followed by numbness of the right forearm and thumb, and weakness in the R bicep, tricep, and wrist. After further MRIs, I was diagnosed with herniated discs at C4-C5, C5-C6, and C6-C7. The doctors conclusion was that the herniated discs were impinging upon the nerve going from the cervical spine down the right arm, and that I should therefore get spinal surgery to correct that. I recently had a three-level posterior cervical foraminotomy, to attempt to decompress the nerve roots and clear up the neurological problems in my arm. It's only been a week since the surgery, but the nerve pain hasn't reduced at all (I realize that numbness and weakness take considerably longer to heal). Now, I'm wondering if I was misdiagnosed. Could it be possible that the nerves are indeed being impinged, but by my misaligned shoulder, and NOT any bulging discs in my neck? Have any of you out there with SSS experienced neurological symptoms similar to mine, yet have not had any problems in your cervical spine? Any replies would be helpful.
    robbjunk 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • I am not a doctor but, when I injured my shoulder I felt the nerves in my arm pulling to my hand. If you don't feel pain in the neck then I would just stick to your shoulder. That's how I got into this mess. Doctors say to me oh you just have one arm longer than the other like everybody else. Yeah right thanks and don't carry stuff. It healed wrong now but, I'm still trying to fix it.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • August 15, 2008
    • 10:45 PM
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