Despite its whimsical name, the medical condition known as winged scapula is a matter of considerable gravity for those who experience its effects. This condition involves the protrusion of the shoulder blade from the back, creating a wing-like shape such that the blade no longer lies flat against the posterior chest wall. In severe instances, this condition can compromise the functionality of the upper extremities, impeding one’s capacity to lift, pull, or push heavy objects. Winged scapula can dramatically diminish a patient’s quality of life, affecting their ability to perform routine activities such as bathing and changing clothes.
Causes of Winged Scapula
Winged scapula is an incredibly frustrating injury because the effects of another injury typcally cause the condition. Specifically, damage to the thoracic nerve within the shoulder can result in a winged scapula. Blunt trauma to the shoulder is a common cause of thoracic nerve damage, leading to paralysis of the serrated anterior muscle and the scapula’s wing.
The diagnosis of winged scapula necessitates a comprehensive review of the patient’s medical history, a thorough physical examination, and, in some cases, projection radiography of the neck, chest, and shoulders to eliminate the possibility of other underlying conditions, such as genetic abnormalities, tumors, or intervertebral disorders.
Initial treatment and care
Individuals who suspect they may be afflicted with winged scapula are strongly recommended to seek medical advice promptly. Initial management of the condition typically focuses on pain reduction, which can be achieved through various interventions, including cold or ice therapy and other modalities. Due to the location of the affected area, these treatments may require assistance and can be challenging to administer independently.
For long-term management of winged scapula, massage therapy and physical therapy are often the first line of treatment aimed at repairing and relaxing the damaged muscles in the affected area. Physical therapy can also help improve the strength and mobility of the muscles surrounding the scapula. In cases where physical therapy is not adequate, surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgical options typically involve fixating the scapula to the rib cage and correcting the condition.
Winged Scapula Experts in Boise
If you have questions regarding the treatment of winged scapula or the available options for managing this condition, the Idaho Shoulder to Hand team is ready to assist you. Dealing with a painful condition such as winged scapula can be discouraging, and we are here to help you navigate your treatment options effectively. Our team of specialists is dedicated to finding ways to alleviate your symptoms and manage your pain more effectively. Call (208) 506-3665 to schedule an appointment!