My Shoulder Snaps and Pops and I Hear Clicking … Why? by Howard J. Luks, MD

Click on Photo to go to the Howard Luks, MD website for more information.

Click on Photo to go to the Howard Luks, MD website for more information.

Snapping Shoulder

Shoulder snapping and poppingShoulder snapping or popping is a very common issue— it is so common that this is one of the most frequently searched topics on my website. I see between 5-10 patients a week who are simply in my office because they want to know – Why my shoulder snaps and pops?

The shoulder is a very complex joint composed of bone, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and two different linings we call the synovium and the bursa. If any of these structures are injured, the smoothly functioning shoulder can pop, snap or click. These “injuries” can be simply due to everyday use, chronic repetitive stress of sports or because of a significant trauma, fall or accident. The most common cause of rotator cuff related pain and popping is rotator cuff tendinosis

Should I be worried if my shoulder pops?

Most of the time the clicking or snapping is due to everyday use and changes that occur naturally within our joints. As we age this causes some of the surfaces to roughen —thus when they rub against one another they will snap, click, or pop within the shoulder. In the majority of circumstances snapping or clicking of the shoulder is not an issue to worry about. Painless clicking and popping usually does not require any treatment at all. Once I see you for your shoulder examination many of you have tried various remedies. I’ve seen many of you try Glucosamine , and Hyaluronic Acid to try and “smooth” things out. Additionally, many of you have tried Tart Cherry Juice as a natural anti-inflammatory. Sometimes you report these supplements worked… but most of the time I do not hear favorable recommendations. Many of you have also tried a shoulder brace or compression sleeve — but generally find these to be cumbersome.

On the other hand, clicking or popping of shoulder may also soon after an injury. That might mean that you have sustained a “significant” injury. There are occasions when popping or snapping could signify a problem in your shoulder.

*If your shoulder was injured and it is now sliding in and out of place (instability), it may snap or pop.

*If the rotator cuff was injured or torn, the torn edge could snap or pop. Or…

*If the labrum of the shoulder was torn, your shoulder may also snap or pop.

*A piece of cartilage has torn loose and you have a “loose body” getting caught in the shoulder.

*If the snapping is in the back of the shoulder, it could be an issue with your shoulder blade, or scapula.
 
 
Causes of Shoulder Snapping or Popping Video

 
 
Howard J. Luks, MD

About the Author:

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon who specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. I have a very “social” patient centric approach and believe that the more you understand about your issue, the better your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and my recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision making principles — all geared to improve your quality of life.