At the end of a session a patient asked me “Why does my shoulder pop? The pop isn’t painful and it doesn’t seem to limit my range of motion. But it pops all the time.”
I like this question because this “pop” is something so many people have but since it doesn’t hurt they brush it off.
First, it’s very common for shoulders to pop or click when you raise or reach your arms overhead. So, if your shoulder pops or clicks once in a while when you raise your arm there is nothing to be worried about. However, if you are noticing that with your shoulder pops frequently that could be the start of a problem.
Why does your shoulder pop? The short answer is because your shoulder is unstable. Another way to say that is your shoulder muscles are not smoothing moving your arm within the joint. Since the muscles are not moving correctly the arm bone (humerus) is hitting the shoulder bone (acromion) producing a sound. Or your arm bone is rolling over one of the rotator cuff muscles causing a sound.
What caused your shoulder to be unstable? Without seeing you it's impossible to answer that question for you specifically. The usual suspects that cause shoulder instability are poor posture, shoulder dislocations, shoulder subluxation, shoulder labrum tears, rotator cuff injuries.
Is the pop dangerous? Again, if you hear your shoulder pop randomly once or twice it is not a problem. BUT if you notice that your shoulder frequently pops while reaching over head then that is indicated your shoulder is not stable.
Just like a door without a door stop. The first time the door knob hits the wall you might not notice a mark, but after a month of your knob consistency hitting the wall there will be hole in the wall. It’s much easier just to put the door stop up then it is to patch a hole in your drywall.
Over time your shoulder will become more unstable then it will progress to being painful from a shoulder impingement or rotator cuff tear.
A good physical assessment that stabilizes your shoulder and stops that annoying pop can make sure you don’t have surgery or injections in the future. If you have any question about this feel to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
WE HELP ACTIVE ADULTS OVERCOME THEIR ACHES AND PAINS TO GET THEM BACK TO THEIR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES WITHOUT MEDICATION, INJECTIONS OR SURGERIES.
Dr. Molly McDonald