Hi everyone, I just joined this forum so that I can tell my snapping scapulas story and hopefully help others with this potentially disabling condition. I am 23 and have been battling snapping scapulas for 3.5 years. It started as bilateral scapular dyskinesis and labral tears, from using hand paddles while swimming with improper form. Then I rejoined my college's track team without telling anyone that I was injured. So for an entire semester I did the exact Olympic weightlifting exercises you can't do with scapular dyskinesis. (Why would I do that, you ask. Out of desperation. Long, irrelevant story.) By the end of the semester my body was really messed up and I had severe snapping scapulas. Mentally I was out of it. Both of my scapulas snapped off of my ribcage and through all the muscles and nerves of my upper back, between 200 and 400 times a day, making me psycologically unstable, neurotic even.
My treatment started off with a semester of physical therapy and cortizone shots. Once we were sure that wouldn't work, I got surgery to take out the inflamed bursa sacs from my right side, the worse side. That helped a lot with pain. I followed that surgery with a semester of physical therapy. During that semester my left scapula stopped snapping but my right one didn't. I made the decision to take a semester off from school because of how altered my life was. My surgeon referred me to their psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with pain disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and clinical depression. I met with a cognitive behavioral therapist every week to try and help reduce its impact on my life. The whole time I continued to do physical therapy. After the semester off I had to go back and finish up. In each of my last two semesters, the snapping overwhelmed me and I fell into a deep depression, not getting up to go to class because standing induced the snapping.
I just graduated in December and am finally beating this condition that has had me beaten down for years. Here's how I am beating it and what I recommend:
1) PROLOTHERAPY!! I started getting injections for my scapula and a partially torn PCL in my right knee about 5 months ago. My pain has diminished significantly and I've only been 3 times so far. It tricks your body into thinking that these are new injuries that require a lot of healing. So let the healing begin!
2) MEDITATION!! Wait, what?? Yea you heard me right, I said meditation. Right before my bursectomy surgery, I went on a 10 day meditation retreat in SE Georgia that changed my life. The Biofeedback Lab with meditative exercises at my college was helping me deal with anxiety, depression, pain, etc. So I decided to go and see what 10 days of meditating could do for me. I had nothing to lose, since I was already "out of it" with physical pain, and the retreat was free (they run on donations). I went into the retreat in severe chronic pain, depressed and anxious. I came out pain free, with a big smile on my face and ready for life. I had gone deep into my mind and stopped reacting to things like pain, muscular imbalances, anxiety, etc. My back wasn't healed: the muscular imbalance that underlies the snapping was still there, but I had stopped reacting to it at a very deep level of my mind. And when I defeated the "pathological obsession" with the snapping, it went away and became only a muscle imbalance. Since then Vipassana medititation (the type I learned on the retreat) has become my tool to fight this condition and live a better life. If you wanna see what it's about, check out www.dhamma.org. I promise you won't regret it! No beliefs required!
3) KINESIO TAPE AND THE POSTURE SHIRT!! This is something I just started doing this week and it's helping tremendously! Kinesio tape pulls on the muscles and can help correct your muscle imbalance and your posture. Makes my scapulas feel so much better! My Posture Shirt just came in the mail and I love it! It does the same thing as kinesio tape but all you have to do is wear it. Highly recommend for people with shoulder/back problems.
4) STRETCHING!! Stretch your upper body as much as possible. Before a workout, after it, when you're not doing anything at home. Do doorway stretches to open up your chest and free up your shoulders.
My right scapula is still snapping but only a few times a day and with minimal pain. With all these tools and continued physical therapy, I think I can completely defeat it without getting the next surgery where they remove part of my scapula.
I hope this helps!