Possible Causes of Shoulder Popping and Grinding

Shoulder pain due to popping and grinding is somehow inevitable. But there are some ways you can do to prevent it from happening.

woman with shoulder popping

There are a lot of instances or movements that we unconsciously do which could make our shoulders pop and grind.

The popping feeling that comes with some clicking sound is called crepitus. This shoulder concern is mostly common to individuals who do a lot of intensive work or sports. This case is also one of the many reasons why such individuals often seek help from doctors or physical therapists.

Shoulder Popping and Grinding Overview

Generally speaking, popping and grinding of the shoulder are already common complaints. Although normal, such cases worry a lot of people. Our shoulder is a very complex joint. Having said, it consists of muscles, tendons, bones, cartilage, and bursa. According to some studies, these tissues interact and move with one another that is why you are most likely to feel a grinding or a popping on the shoulders.

There are also instances where there is swelling or inflammation on the tendons. The swelling could tighten the spaces between the structures of the shoulder. As a result, your shoulder could pop and grind when you move.


There is a long list of possible reasons why your shoulders sound whenever you move. But we have provided you below some of the common causes of why your shoulders pop and grind.

1. Scapulothoracic Bursitis

Our shoulders contain bursa – fluid-like sacs that protect our joints and at the same time help them move properly. If the bursa is inflamed, this could result in your shoulder snapping.

2. Labral Tears

The labrum is a cartilaginous structure that is responsible for holding the shoulders together. Overwork, injuries, or even aging could cause the labrum to be damaged. Labral tears are painful and they are the ones responsible behind your shoulders grinding.

3. Malunion of the structures of the scapula or ribs

If you previous accidents that have caused fractures to your shoulders or ribs, the noise due to shoulder popping could be permanent. Even if the shoulder pain is all gone, your bones could still develop ridges that are responsible for the annoying sounds.

4. Osteochondroma

An osteochondroma is a benign growth found in your shoulder, scapula, and even rib cage. This kind of growth is another factor behind the cracking that you hear when you lift your arms.


Upon seeing a medical expert regarding your shoulder pain, they could offer you some treatments that you could consider. However, there are also some remedies that you can try out yourself as you heal.

Some of the common treatments used for shoulder pain are the following:

  1. Corticosteroid injections
  2. Physical therapy
  3. Massage therapy
  4. Anti-inflammatory drugs
  5. Chiropractic adjustment of the bones

Your doctor will have to manage a specialized treatment for you basing on your shoulder condition. But there are a lot of available over-the-counter painkillers you can use to lessen the pain you’re feeling.

If OTC drugs are not of help, there are also some ways you may try at home to help make the shoulder pain go away. Check out the following:


You must know by now that posture really matters when it comes to keeping a good structure for your shoulders. One possible way you can do to help combat shoulder pain is to maintain a good posture. Make sure that when you are seated or when you’re having long hours working in front of a computer, remember to always sit straight. Having a good posture is a possible way you can put an end to chronic shoulder pain.


There are a lot of possible exercises that you may try to improve your shoulder pain. As for some experts, they would always recommend yoga as a good exercise for both posture and breathing techniques. You may also look for other stretching exercises that offer techniques in helping develop good shoulder posture and proper breathing exercises.

Cold Compress

For most injuries, applying ice to the affected area helps a lot. A cold compress or using ice to deal with the inflammation is really effective. You can do this for your shoulder injury since the coldness helps numb the pain. Ice is also pretty good when it comes to decreasing the swelling of the injured area.


Shoulder pain due to popping and grinding is somehow inevitable. Most especially for people who work their shoulders out intensely. However, there are already some ways you can do to prevent it from happening. You can also prevent such injury from happening if you are aware of the possible causes. By then, you would keep an eye more on what you do.

It would also be kind of hard to detect what really caused the pain. But the best solution would be, to always talk to your doctor about it. If you’re already starting to feel a bit of discomfort and pain in your shoulders, you need to get help right away.

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