The shoulder blade or scapula is one of two bones that attach the arm to the thorax (chest wall). Between the shoulder blade and the thorax is a bursa. Bursae are very thin fluid filled sacks that the body forms between tissues (bone/muscle/skin) to allow the tissues to glide past each other. When this becomes inflamed or irritated, this often results in pain along the inside border of the shoulder blade near the spine. There is often associated mechanical symptoms including clicking and grinding. This can be caused by fractures of the ribs, shoulder blade, muscle injuries, and bony growths. This is often a missed diagnosis because it is not a very common problem and at times persons may go through many unnecessary tests and procedures without resolutions of their symptoms. Specialized training allows for accurate diagnosis as well as arthroscopic treatment of this problem.
Initial treatment includes observation, avoidance of aggravating activities, anti-inflammatory medications, aggressive therapeutic physical therapy exercises and occasionally cortisone injections.
Surgical treatment of snapping scapula is usually able to be done with an arthroscopic surgery done as an outpatient. This procedure is not widely available however, Dr. Lenarz is specialty trained in these arthroscopic techniques. This procedure is performed as an outpatient, and symptomatic relief and recovery are usually quick with complete resolution of the pain and other symptoms.