Clicking and Cracking Shoulders?

10th October 2019

Have you ever experienced your shoulder popping or clicking while carrying out exercise or general movement? Possibly during a shoulder press or push up? This is a very common complaint and provided that there is not an underlying injury, then it is not a matter of concern.

The shoulder is a complex joint, made of the humerus bone and the shoulder blade, which move on top of the rib cage. These structures are connected together by a number of muscles, ligaments and tendons, along with the cartilage and bursa so provide further support. It is built in a way which enables maximum mobility, however it leaves it more vulnerable to injuries. All the structures which support the shoulder need to interact simultaneously. So, you can imagine how easy it is for one of these structures to get caught off and affect the whole movement of the shoulder joint complex. This can be due to a structure either being weak or too tight, resulting in alerted biomechanics, making more vulnerable to injury.

Joint clicking is a very common complaint, especially within the shoulder joint due to the number of structures which make up the whole joint. Painless clicking is not usually a matter of concern and generally subsides over time.

It can result from a release of fluid-gas which lubricate the joint. This occurs due to the changes in pressure within the joint, that occurs with shoulder movements.

Alternatively, it is due to a muscle or tendon flicking over a bone as you move your arm. This often occurs when there is an imbalance around the shoulder, causing the tissue to flick over the bone as you move your arm, creating that pooping or clocking sounds.

While painless clicking is not a major concern, it may be useful looking into why it is occurring and having an assessment. we can identify the cause of the clicking and any altered biomechanics present.  Often it results from a poor posture – affecting the positioning of the shoulder joint, putting various tissues in an awkward position, encouraging tissue to come in contact with movement. This can be addressed through hands on treatment and a rehabilitation plan, with the aim to improve the biomechanics around the shoulder joint complex and overall posture and improve your symptoms of clicking or popping.

If the clicking is associated with pain and warmth around the shoulder, it is usually a sign there is some sort of underlying damage or trauma which needs to be addressed.

A couple of reason you may be experiencing some pain associated with that clicking sensation may be due to a structure being inflamed or damage. This can either be one of the rotator cuff muscles or its tendon as it attaches onto the bone, the bicep tendon over the front of the shoulder and the labrum deep within the joint. The swelling of the tissue reduces the space available for those structures to interact, affecting the smooth functioning of the shoulder joint, resulting in that popping or clicking sensation that may occur with movement. These tissues can become irritated and damaged from trauma or repetitive movement, creating micro trauma which develops over time. Along with the clicking, this can result in pain, weakness and compensatory movement patterns.

If your shoulders are clinking and you are worried about it, then come into the clinic to have your shoulders assessed. We will be able to figure out exactly why it is happening and identify any altered biomechanics or weaknesses. Apart from the hands-on treatment, a rehabilitation plan will be given with will involve both strengthening and stretching exercises to help improve the mechanics of the shoulder joint complex, encouraging the tissue to work together more efficiently and aid the process.

What you can do until then includes a proper warm up before exercising, making sure you’ve got good technique when carrying out various movements, spend time stretching following a work out and be more aware of your posture day to day.

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