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Scapular Dyskinesis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


Scapular dyskinesis, although not as widely recognized as some other musculoskeletal conditions, can significantly impact an individual's quality of life. This condition, characterized by abnormal movement patterns of the shoulder blades, can lead to pain, decreased range of motion, and reduced function in daily activities. In this blog post, we'll delve into what scapular dyskinesis is, its causes, symptoms, and available treatments.

What is Scapular Dyskinesis?

Scapular Dyskinesis

Scapular dyskinesis refers to altered positioning or abnormal motion of the shoulder blades (scapulae). Instead of moving smoothly against the rib cage, the shoulder blades may tilt, wing, or rotate excessively during arm movement. This disruption in scapular movement can affect the biomechanics of the shoulder joint and surrounding structures, leading to pain and dysfunction.

Causes of Scapular Dyskinesis:

Several factors can contribute to the development of scapular dyskinesis, including:

  • Poor Posture: Prolonged periods of slouching or sitting with rounded shoulders can weaken the muscles that control scapular movement, leading to dyskinesis.

  • Muscle Imbalances: Weakness or tightness in the muscles around the shoulder girdle, such as the rotator cuff muscles, serratus anterior, and upper trapezius, can disrupt normal scapular mechanics.

  • Overuse or Repetitive Movements: Athletes or individuals engaged in repetitive overhead activities, such as throwing, swimming, or weightlifting, may develop scapular dyskinesis due to repetitive stress on the shoulder joint.

  • Trauma or Injury: Direct trauma to the shoulder or neck region, such as fractures or soft tissue injuries, can also contribute to scapular dyskinesia.

Scapular Dyskinesis: Causes, Symptoms, and TreatmentScapular Dyskinesis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Symptoms of Scapular Dyskinesis:

The symptoms of scapular dyskinesis can vary from mild discomfort to significant pain and functional limitations. Common symptoms include:

  • Shoulder Pain: Pain in the shoulder region, especially during movement or overhead activities.

  • Limited Range of Motion: Difficulty raising the arm overhead or reaching behind the back.

  • Muscle Fatigue: Feeling of weakness or fatigue in the shoulder or upper back muscles, particularly after prolonged activity.

  • Clicking or Snapping Sensation: Some individuals may experience clicking or snapping sensations around the shoulder blade during certain movements.

  • Postural Changes: Visible changes in shoulder blade position, such as winging or tilting, especially when observed from behind.

Treatment Options for Scapular Dyskinesis:

The management of scapular dyskinesis typically involves a comprehensive approach aimed at addressing underlying muscle imbalances, improving posture, and restoring normal shoulder mechanics. Treatment options may include:

  • Physical Therapy: A structured physical therapy program focusing on strengthening the muscles around the shoulder girdle and improving scapular control and mobility.

  • Postural Correction: Educating the individual about proper posture and ergonomic principles to minimize stress on the shoulder joints and surrounding muscles.

  • Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques such as massage, joint mobilization, and soft tissue manipulation to address muscle tightness and improve joint mobility.

  • Activity Modification: Avoiding or modifying activities that exacerbate symptoms, especially those involving repetitive overhead movements.

  • Strengthening Exercises: Gradual progression of strengthening exercises targeting the shoulder, scapular stabilizers, and core muscles to improve overall shoulder function and stability.

In some cases, more advanced interventions such as corticosteroid injections or surgery may be considered, particularly if conservative measures fail to provide relief.


Scapular dyskinesis can significantly impair shoulder function and lead to chronic pain and disability if left untreated. However, with early recognition and appropriate intervention, individuals with scapular dyskinesis can experience significant improvement in symptoms and regain function. Remember, early intervention is key to successful outcomes in managing scapular dyskinesis and restoring optimal shoulder health.


Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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