a Winged Scapula, is it Serious? What are the Causes?
A winged scapula can be serious, but it depends on the causes. There can be two main types of “injuries” that could cause you to have a winged scapula. Both of the injuries have to do with your serratus anterior. A muscle which its job is to “glue” your shoulder blade towards the midline so it doesn’t “wing-out” during shoulder movement:
What are the causes?
It could be NEUROLOGICAL, a nerve issue.
The most serious and rare reason is an injury to the nerve that activates the serratus anterior muscle. If you are suffering from nerve damage (which again, is rare) your muscle will lose its ability to contract. Therefore, there will be a winging on the shoulder blade as the muscle is unable to keep it “glued” to your back.
There are 17 different muscles that attach to your shoulder blade. At times it is not just an injury to the long thoracic nerve but an injury to other nerves that come from your neck that will lead to it. A big sign is if your winged scapula is very noticeable on overhead movement.
The most common cause is weakness
Weakness in the muscles that stabilize the shoulder blade will cause your scapula to move where it should not move. It will give you the appearance of a winged scapula.
Common therapy procedures are targeted towards strengthening the serratus anterior. However, sometimes the exercises that are prescribed are not efficient at solving the issue because the problem is usually more complicated than just a weakness of one muscle.
Furthermore, if the body does not know how to activate the right muscle it will compensate and use the wrong muscles to get the task done. So you might think that you are working out your serratus anterior but other muscles are taking over and the exercise is ineffective.
A common complaint is heard:
My right scapula pops out of my back continually, despite how much I work my serratus anterior; which I’m told is the cure. How can I fix my problem?
The treatment needs to be targeted towards proper muscle activation and postural correction. If your chest muscles are too tight from rounded shoulders, the shoulder blade will constantly be pulled out of alignment. If there is a rotator cuff injury, it needs to be addressed as well.
Tight shoulders are highly correlated to this condition, find out if your shoulders are tight
Fixing a winged scapula tends to be more complicated because it greatly differs from patient to patient. It could be a nerve, the shoulder blade muscles or like many times a combination of the two. You need a full movement analysis to determine the pattern that causes or aggravates the condition. Moreover, the exercises that are actually going to help fix the issue.
You need a full movement analysis to determine the pattern that causes or aggravates the condition and more importantly the exercises that are actually going to help fix the issue.