With individuals leading more sedentary lifestyles than ever before, a number of pain-related conditions and ailments have become more common. One of these conditions is known as a winged scapula.
A winged scapula is a condition where the shoulder blades, or scapula, sticks out. In some cases, this can cause pain and functional limitations.
How do you know if you have a winged scapula? Your shoulder blade may stick out when you lift your arms or when you attempt to push your arms against an object, like a wall. It may prove difficult to raise your arms to their full range and you may experience stiffness. You may further have trouble lifting objects that aren’t normally heavy for you.
What Causes a Winged Scapula?
A winged scapula frequently arises from nerve damage in the shoulder. This nerve damage may be caused by trauma to the joint or from being hit in contact sports or from falls. As a result, the nerve becomes damaged. It paralyzes the serratus anterior muscle, a muscle in the back of the shoulder. This then causes the scapula to poke out abnormally.
But it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause due to the delay between injury and the shoulder blade protrusion. Weeks may pass by before the protruding shoulder blade is noticeable.
And bad posture can further aggravate the issue. Further, bad posture and muscle imbalances, including a weak serratus anterior muscle, can cause a winged scapula to occur. This is another reason why it’s important to ensure you have a proper ergonomic set-up if you work at a desk for the majority of your day.
Treating Your Winged Scapula
If you suspect a winged scapula, book an appointment with your doctor or a sports medicine specialist. They will perform tests to determine if nerve damage has occurred. Further, you may be referred to a physiotherapist and/or massage therapist.
A physiotherapist and massage therapist may prescribe rehabilitation exercises to help retrain the shoulder muscles, as well as regain strength in weak or imbalanced areas. These exercises often involve fixing postural deficits.
If nerve damage is present and is severe, surgery may be required. Surgery involves a small incision which takes pressure off of the damaged nerve. Throughout your recovery, it may also be recommended to avoid lying or sleeping on a certain side, as well as maintaining a good posture to allow for effective and efficient healing of the nerve.
Recovery often takes anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of years – depending on the severity of the issue. The earlier you get treated, the better!
Massage therapy can help you get back to feeling your best. At Athlete’s Choice Massage, our therapists are dedicated to helping you get back to your regular activities. Massage promotes healing, blood flow, and releases tension in the affected area. Book your next appointment online today!