Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Abnormal Shoulder Blade Mechanics and Position Increases Risk of Future Pain

January 24, 2018


The shoulder blade or scapula plays an important role in optimal function of the shoulder joint.  The scapula provides the foundation for both stability and force generation through the arm during athletics and daily activities.  Weakness in the scapular muscles can lead to abnormal posture and movement or dyskinesis in the scapula during arm movements.  Most commonly, we observe winging or movement of the blade away from the rib cage during arm movements.  Dyskinesis can occur in both injured and healthy shoulders but the data has been inconclusive if these poor movements can predict who will have shoulder pain in the future.  

A recent review article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine analyzed the existing literature on scapular dyskinesis and future shoulder pain (Hickey et al. 2017).  The authors examined 5 previous articles including a total of 419 athletes.  They reported 160 of the 419 asymptomatic athletes demonstrated dyskinesis at baseline.  Of these, 35% went on to experience shoulder pain over the following 1-2 year follow up.  Conversely, 25% of the asymptomatic shoulders without dyskinesis went on to experience shoulder pain.  The results demonstrated having dyskinesis at baseline increased the risk of developing shoulder pain by 43%.  

To learn more on how to reduce your risk of future shoulder pain symptoms contact your local Physical Therapist.