Snapping Scapula Syndrome: Diagnosis and Management

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Scapulothoracic bursitis and snapping scapula syndrome are rare diagnoses that contribute to considerable morbidity in some patients. These conditions represent a spectrum of disorders characterized by pain with or without mechanical crepitus. They are commonly identified in young, active patients who perform repetitive overhead activities. Causes include anatomic scapular or thoracic variations, muscle abnormalities, and bony or soft-tissue masses. Three-dimensional CT and MRI aid in detecting these abnormalities. Nonsurgical therapy is the initial treatment of choice but is less successful than surgical management in patients with anatomic abnormalities. In many cases, scapular stabilization, postural exercises, or injections eliminate symptoms. When nonsurgical treatment fails, open and endoscopic techniques have been used with satisfactory results. Familiarity with the neuroanatomic structures surrounding the scapula is critical to avoid iatrogenic complications. Although reported outcomes of both open and endoscopic scapulothoracic decompression are encouraging, satisfactory outcomes have not been universally achieved.

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