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Winged Scapula

Overview 

  • Scapular winging, sometimes called a winged scapula, is a condition that affects the shoulder blades. Scapula is the anatomical term for the shoulder blade.
  • The shoulder blades usually rest flat against the back of the chest wall. Scapular winging occurs when a shoulder blade sticks out.
  • While the condition is rare, it’s usually painful and makes day-to-day activities, such as lifting grocery bags or brushing your teeth, difficult.

 

Symptoms 

  • Scapular winging symptoms vary from person to person depending on the underlying cause as well as the muscles and nerves involved. Most people with scapular winging have a shoulder blade that sticks out. This can make sitting in a chair or wearing a backpack uncomfortable.
  • If the winged scapula is the result of nerve damage, it can cause weakness in the muscles of your neck, shoulders, and arms. That weakness can make lifting, pulling, and pushing heavy objects hard.
  • Scapular winging often affects your ability to raise your arm above your shoulder. It may also be associated with other symptoms, including:
  • pain or discomfort in your neck, shoulders, and back
  • fatigue
  • a drooping shoulder

Causes 

  • Scapular winging is almost always caused by damage to one of three nerves that control muscles in your arms, back, and neck:
  • the long thoracic nerve, which controls the serratus anterior muscle 
  • the dorsal scapular nerve, which controls the rhomboid muscles
  • the spinal accessory nerve, which controls the trapezius muscle
  • Injuries and surgeries can both cause damage to these nerves and muscles.

Injuries

A variety of injuries can damage important nerves and muscles, leading to a winged scapula.

 

  • Traumatic injuries

  • Blunt trauma to the nerves that control the muscles of your neck, upper back, and shoulder can lead to scapular winging. Examples of blunt trauma include dislocating your shoulder or twisting your neck in an unusual way.

  • Repetitive motion injuries

  • Repetitive movements can also cause injuries. This type of injury is common among athletes, but it can also be caused by everyday tasks, such as:

  • washing the car

  • digging

  • trimming hedges

  • using your arms to prop your head up while lying down

  • Nontraumatic injuries

  • Nontraumatic injuries aren’t caused by physical force. Instead, they can be caused by:

  • viral illnesses, such as influenza, polio, or tonsillitis 

  • allergic reactions to medication

  • drug overdose

  • exposure to toxins, such as herbicides

  • certain medical conditions, such as congenital heart defects, cervical radiculopathy, and muscular dystrophy

How can I prevent scapular winging?

Scapular winging isn’t always preventable, but you may be able to reduce your risk by: 

  • avoiding repetitive shoulder or arm movements when possible

  • maintaining correct posture

  • using an ergonomic chair or pillow

  • using shoulder-friendly ergonomic bags and backpacks

  • avoiding carrying too much weight on your shoulders

  • stretching and strengthening the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and upper arms

 

Our expert providers are experienced and skilled at treating winged scapula and are your source for expert treatment of winged scapula in Westminster and Denver Colorado. Not only are we the premier treatment for spine injuries and chiropractic in Westminster and Denver Colorado, but we also specialize in many other advanced treatment techniques such as shockwave, cold laser, graston technique, KT Taping, activator, instrument aided spinal alignments, drop table, toggle, in house rehab services, and on site digital xrays. We are your Premier destination for winged scapula treatment in Westminster Colorado and Denver Colorado Chiropractor.