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Scapular Dyskinesia - What is it?

What is Scapular Dyskinesia?

Scapular dyskinesia is a condition characterized by abnormal movement or positioning of the shoulder blade (scapula). This can result in pain, discomfort, weakness, and decreased range of motion in the shoulder and/or arm.

The scapula plays a critical role in shoulder movement and stability. It serves as a platform for the muscles that attach to the shoulder, allowing for smooth and coordinated movement of the arm. When there is an issue with the way the scapula moves or rests, it can disrupt the coordinated movement and lead to scapular dyskinesia.

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to scapular dyskinesia, including muscle weakness, muscle imbalance, poor posture, and overuse injuries. Common activities that can lead to scapular dyskinesia include repetitive overhead movements (such as throwing a ball), carrying heaving loads, and spending long periods of time sitting at a desk or computer.

Symptoms of scapular dyskinesia can include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the shoulder, neck, or upper back

  • Weakness or fatigue in the shoulder or arm

  • Limited range of motion in the shoulder or arm

  • Clicking or popping sensations in the shoulder joint

What’s so important about the scapula?

The scapula is an important bone that plays a critical role in shoulder movement and stability. During shoulder elevation, the scapula undergoes a complex series of movements that are essential for smooth and coordinated movement of the arm.

The scapula is anchored to the thorax by a series of muscles that attach to its borders and spine. These muscles act to stabilize the scapula during movement and maintain its proper position relative to the thorax.

As the arm is raised overhead, the scapula moves in a coordinated manner to allow for a wide range of motion. The scapula rotates upwardly and elevates as the arm moves overhead, which is facilitated by the contraction of the upper trapezius, serratus anterior, and lower fibers of the trapezius muscles.

At the same time, the scapula tilts posteriorly, which is facilitated by the contraction of the rhomboid and middle trapezius muscles. This posterior tilt helps to keep the scapula from sliding too far forward and impinging on other structures in the shoulder joint.

As the arm reaches full elevation, the scapula rotates downwardly to return to its resting position, which is facilitated by the contraction of the lower trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles. This downward rotation helps to ensure that the shoulder joint remains in proper alignment and reduces the risk of injury or impingement.

How is Scapular Dyskinesia Treated?

Treatment for scapular dyskinesia typically involves a combination of physical therapy exercises and lifestyle modifications. At Hybrid Physical Therapy, we would prescribe specific exercises that would help strengthen and balance the muscles surrounding the scapula along with improving any range of motion and postural deficits. The strengthening exercises may include the muscles of the rotator cuff, upper back region, and neck, as well as stretching exercises to improve flexibility.

Lifestyle modifications may include changes to work or leisure activities to reduce strain on the shoulder and scapula. This may include adjusting the ergonomics of a workstation, taking frequent breaks to stretch and move, or modifying the way certain activities are performed. Did you know that sleeping on your side could also contribute to the pain? Sleeping position is very important and will also be discussed in depth with our therapists.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct underlying structural issues that are contributing to scapular dyskinesia. However, this is typically considered a last resort after conservative treatments have been tried.

How can Hybrid Physical Therapy help with your recovery?

If you’re having shoulder pain, it may be a caused by scapular dyskinesia. This can cause difficulty with playing sports, doing chores around the house, playing with your kids, or even working out to stay fit. Fortunately, this is an easy fix with the right intervention!

Let Hybrid Physical Therapy be the ones to guide you to the road to success and optimize your performance.

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