A winged scapula, also known as scapular winging, is a condition in which the shoulder blade sticks out from the back. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including muscle imbalances, nerve damage, and injuries. While it may not always cause pain or discomfort, it can lead to difficulty with certain movements and may cause the individual to feel self-conscious about their appearance.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have a winged scapula, it’s important to seek medical attention to determine the cause and find an appropriate treatment plan. In this article, we’ll cover how to identify a winged scapula, the potential causes, and treatment options.
How to Identify a Winged Scapula
The first step in treating a winged scapula is to accurately identify the condition. To do this, you’ll want to look for the following signs:
Visible protrusion of the shoulder blade: The most obvious sign of a winged scapula is the visible protrusion of the shoulder blade from the back. This can be seen when the individual is standing or lying down and may be more pronounced when the arm is raised.
Difficulty with certain movements: If you have a winged scapula, you may have difficulty with certain movements, such as reaching overhead or lifting heavy objects. This is because the muscles that attach to the shoulder blade may be weak or imbalanced, causing it to protrude excessively.
Pain or discomfort: While a winged scapula may not always cause pain, it can lead to discomfort or pain in the shoulder or back. This is often due to muscle imbalances and strain on the surrounding muscles and joints.
Numbness or tingling: In some cases, a winged scapula may be caused by nerve damage or compression. If this is the case, you may experience numbness or tingling in the affected arm or hand.
Potential Causes of a Winged Scapula
There are several things that can cause a winged scapula. These include muscle imbalances, which can make the shoulder blade stick out too much. This can happen when the muscles in the back are weak and the muscles in the front of the shoulder are too strong. Nerve damage can also cause the shoulder blade to stick out. This can be caused by injuries, diseases, or when the nerves are being pressed on. Scoliosis is when the spine curves to the side and can make the shoulder blades stick out. Fractures, or breaks, in the shoulder blade or nearby bones, can also cause the shoulder blade to stick out. Injuries to the shoulder, like tears in the rotator cuff or when the shoulder is out of place, can also cause muscle imbalances and a winged scapula. Poor posture, like slouching or hunching over, can also make the shoulder blades stick out too much.
Treatment Options for a Winged Scapula
A treatment plan for a winged scapula may include different ways to help. Physical therapy can help stretch and make the muscles in the back more robust. This may include exercises like squeezing the shoulder blades together, rows, and pulling the shoulder blades back. Massage can also help improve the flow of blood and make the muscles feel less tense. In some cases, surgery may be needed to fix the position of the shoulder blade. This may involve fixing or letting go of the muscles or tendons that attach to the shoulder blade or moving the shoulder blade to a different spot. Medications may also be given to help with pain and discomfort. It’s important to work with a healthcare provider to find the best treatment plan for you.