Symptoms, Causes & Treatments of Shoulder Cracking
Shoulder concerns are one of the most common reasons patients seek physiotherapy, with 30% of people experiencing shoulder pain at some time in their life.
Many people assume that clicking, popping or cracking sounds in their shoulders is caused by serious injury.
Today we’ll address the possible causes and treatment options for shoulders that click, crack, and pop without any pain.
Important: Shoulders are prone to injury, with 50% of adults 55 years or older having a detectable shoulder muscle tear. If you are experiencing pain along with clicking, popping, and cracking in your shoulder, we suggest you stop reading and book a physiotherapy assessment, as this could be a symptom of a more serious condition or injury.
Symptoms of Cracking Shoulders
The symptoms are simple: a clicking, cracking or popping in your shoulders, usually without pain.
They occur when you lift your arms, do push-ups or bench presses, or even when you’re simply shrugging or rolling your shoulders back.
Even though it doesn’t hurt, it can still be concerning. Let’s look at some potential causes of this issue.
If you’re seeking medical care for your symptoms, find a physiotherapy clinic near you and book an assessment for clicking, cracking or popping shoulders today.
Causes of Cracking Shoulders
Muscle Tendons Moving
Although there could be any number of causes for clicking shoulders, a common one is the muscle tendons moving or flicking across the bony structures in your shoulder.
Your muscle tendons are very strong and stringy, acting almost like guitar strings when they brush or move across your bones. This movement can cause these noises as tendons vibrate over a bone.
If your shoulder suddenly started clicking, popping, or cracking in the past few months, you may have injured the muscle and altered its shape or the track on which it runs. The sudden onset of these sounds may indicate that further shoulder damage is occurring, and treatment is likely required.
Other Minor Causes of Cracking Shoulders
- Scapulothoracic bursitis: Caused by an inflammation of the bursa, which helps glide movement between the two surfaces.
- Malunion of fractures of the scapula or ribs: If you’ve experienced a recent fracture of your shoulder or ribs and the bones do not heal properly, they can develop ridges that will be prone to catching and making noise.
- Labral tears: Damage to the larum, which is a cartilaginous structure that holds the shoulder together.
- Osteocondroma: A benign bone or cartilage growth in the shoulder, scapula, or rib cage.
Book an assessment with a physiotherapist near you to address clicking, cracking & popping in your shoulders today.
Treatments for Cracking Shoulders
Physiotherapists are experts at realigning movement and making changes to your posture to allow your muscles and bones glide more efficiently, regardless of how serious your condition is.
Below are a few ways that a physiotherapist can reduce or improve the clicking, cracking or popping noises in your shoulders:
- Posture corrections
- Modalities to encourage faster healing
- Stretching/strengthening exercises
- Activity modifications
If caught and treated early and effectively, you can see an improvement in symptoms within a relatively short period of time.
Book A Physiotherapy Assessment for Cracking Shoulders
If you’re experiencing clicking, cracking or popping in your shoulders, book an appointment with a qualified physical therapist to get a full assessment and treatment plan in place. No doctor referral needed!*
*A doctor referral may be required to access your third party insurance