Why does my shoulder pop?
Shoulder popping, cracking or snapping is a common issue that affects many people, in fact, it is the third most common muscle and joint issue that doctors treat or hear from patients. No matter how common shoulder popping is, it is not something you should ignore or treat mildly as it could be a symptom of a health condition or even injury.
The shoulder as we know is a complex structure with lots of bones, tendons, cartilages, muscles and a bursa. These things moves and interact with each other during activities. Most popping sounds you hear from your shoulder may just be these complex structures moving and touching each other. Other times, it may caused by injury or even health conditions. Let us discuss some of the common causes of shoulder popping or cracking.
WHAT IS A SHOULDER POP
A shoulder pop is a clicking sound and sensation that occurs at the joint that connects the shoulder to the upper arm. The shoulder is made up of many structures that work together to help the ball and socket joint to function properly. These structures helps you to move your shoulder in many directions so it is easy to injure the joint. The sound can be like a sharp crack or snap.
IS IT NORMAL FOR THE SHOULDER TO POP
The shoulders can pop if they are overused or due to old age, this can be termed normal especially if the popping does not come with any pain. But, most popping sounds from the shoulder is because there is an injury or inflammation in any of the structures. The tendons can swell up if they are inflamed; this can cause the spaces in the shoulder to tighten up, any motion that is made will come with a popping sound. The sounds may be termed normal if the come after you have overused the shoulders and trying to stretch them. But if it comes with even the slightest pain and burning sensation, then it may not be normal.
CAUSES OF SHOULDER POPPING AND CRACKING
1. Labral Tears or SLAP Lesions
The shoulder has two major bones – the ball and socket bones, the cartilage around the socket is known as the labrum (singular form of labral). It functions as a fitting for the ligaments and also help the ball bone to stay in its position. Due to stress or injury, this labrum can be torn from the bone. The tearing of the labrum can cause the shoulder to make a painful popping sound. When the labrum is torn from the top in the shoulder, then it is known as slap lesions. When there is a slap lesion, the shoulder can also make popping sounds. These sounds come with pain.
2. Rotator Cuff Tears
The rotator cuff tendon is a set of 4 small muscles that are found around the shoulder, they are also found in the deltoid. Any of the small muscles can tear and if it does, there will be a loose edge on the shoulder that can affect other structures in the shoulder. This tear can cause the shoulders to pop and crack, another symptom of this case is that there will be an inflammation in the shoulder. The bursa will be swollen, inflamed and can also make popping sounds.
3. Shoulder Dislocations
If there is a major cause of shoulder popping, it will be dislocation of the shoulder. Any acute injury to the ligaments can cause the shoulders to become loose and start to dislocate. The dislocation can make the ball to move over the edge of the socket. The popping sound can be heard when the ball slides into its right place.
4. Loose Bodies
These are small fragments of cartilages or bones that have become loose, they float around the joint. This condition can be caused by arthritis, bleeding in the joint or even the death of any tissue. One of the symptoms of loose bodies is popping and cracking of the shoulder.
5. Biceps Tendon and Snapping in the Front of the Shoulder
The bicep tendon is found in front of the arm bone. Due to constant overuse, this tendon can become inflamed, this can cause snapping and popping sounds in the shoulder. The rolling out of the tendon from its position can cause snapping in the shoulder. Unstable movement or position of the bicep tendon can cause painful popping in the shoulder.
6. Shoulder Arthritis
Arthritis can affect any bone and joint including the shoulders. This condition occurs when there is loss of cartilage on the end of the bones. This makes the cartilages to become rough and the surface of the shoulder will be rough as well leading to popping and cracking.
WHY DOES MY SHOULDER POP WHEN I ROTATE IT
The shoulders can make popping sounds when you rotate or move them, some possible causes of this are:
This condition is caused when there is an overgrowth of bone or cartilage at the end of the bone near the growth plate. This growth can happen anywhere like on the shoulder or even rib cage. This growth of bone can cause your shoulder to pop when you move or raise your arms.
Cavitation is a condition whereby gas is released from the fluid within the shoulder joint. There is no pain attached to this, the only effect is that moving the arms quickly will cause the gas to be released thereby causing popping sounds.
3. Scapulothroracic Bursitis
The shoulder joints have sacs that are filled with fluid, these sacs help the ball and socket bones to move freely. When these sacs are inflamed, there will be pains and popping of the shoulders when you try to move them.
Osteoarthritis is associated with old age. As we get older, the cartilages degenerates. The degeneration makes the bones to rub against each other when there is any movement of the shoulder. The popping sound is an indicator of this condition.
WHY DOES MY SHOULDER POP WHEN I DO PUSH UPS
During push ups, the shoulders can make popping sounds, this is not limited to only the shoulders. Most of the noises are harmless and do not call for medical attention while some are signs of a heath issue. Here are some common causes of shoulder popping during push ups.
1. Your Position
The incorrect position of stretching the hands slightly wider than the shoulders can stress your joints and cause your shoulders to pop. You should use the best position that allows your hands to be on the same line as your shoulders.
2. Tendons and Ligaments
The tendons and ligaments are elastic, tension from the push ups can cause them to make popping sounds on the shoulders. When these tendons and ligaments are moved into their places, there is a popping sound. This is normal and does not call for concern.
3. Synovial Fluid and Escaping Gases
There are sacs in the joint that are filled with synovial fluid, this fluid is made of substances like carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen. Each push up opens the joint and gases escape causing the popping sound.
4. Shoulder Injuries
Injuries can affect the shoulder and its structures. One of the major symptoms of injury in the shoulder is pain, another is cracking or popping sound when you do activities like push ups.
HOW TO TREAT SHOULDER POP
Some shoulder pops are normal while others need medical attention. If the popping sound comes with pain, you should get treatment for it. According to Village Emergency Centers, some of the ways to treat shoulder pops are:
Over-the-counter pain relief drugs especially if the pain is mild.
- Physical therapy
- Bone adjustment
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Corticosteroid drugs.
It is not abnormal to hear popping sounds from your shoulder, it is considered normal if you overuse your shoulders. These sounds can be caused by many factors including injuries, escaping gases and other issues. You can use pain relief medicines to treat the sound of it comes with a mild pain but if the case is severe, you should see a doctor.