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Popping Noise In The Shoulder: Should I Be Worried?

As we get older we may hear all kinds of clicking or popping sounds coming from our body when we get up from a sitting position or just move around. Sometimes those sounds are accompanied by pain and other times they are not. Even if there is no pain, if a popping sound comes from the shoulder, it’s a good idea to get it checked out.

Woman with a popping shoulder.

Shoulder Impingement

If tissue touches or rubs together in your shoulder blade it can irritate your bursa and tendons. Anything you do that is repetitive like swimming can bring on pain and inflammation in your shoulder or arm.

Osteoarthritis

Our shoulder has a soft cartilage to keep bones from rubbing together. It acts like a cushion. As we get older, our cartilage starts to break down and our bones can begin to rub together causing pain and that popping sound. This wear and tear arthritis could be the culprit.

Labral Tears

If the popping is accompanied by pain or if the sound is more like grinding, it could be a labral tear. This can happen after an injury or if there has been a dislocation. It needs to be stabilized.

A Fracture

A fracture in the shoulder causes both pain and the popping sound. Even with an old shoulder injury, you can still have the sound. After a fracture your bones can heal leaving “ridges” in the bone, and when they rub together, you can hear the popping sound.

Bursitis

Our shoulder contains a sac called bursae which helps to cushion our bones as we move. Bursitis happens when bursae get irritated and swell due to overuse or injury. Symptoms include stabbing pain and a popping sound.

Be Proactive And Protect Your Shoulder

There are numerous precautions anyone can practice in order to prevent shoulder injuries and pain.

  • Sleep on your back whenever possible. Studies show sleeping on your side precipitates injuries.
  • Stretch muscles after bench pressing weights and tuck in your elbows at a 75 degree angle to avoid shoulder impingement.

While working on a computer:

  • Keep wrists straight with hands below or at the same level as elbows.
  • Take frequent breaks and stretch.
  • Set your chair at a height to keep your eyes level with the top of the screen.

Consult with Dr. Samuel Koo for other tips to prevent shoulder injuries.

Contact Dr. Samuel Koo, MD, MPH at (425) 823-4000 immediately for an evaluation in Seattle, WA if you are having pain and popping sounds coming from your shoulder area.