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Old 05-18-2008, 10:46 PM   #1
Ahmad Sharif
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Shoulder popping/cracking/clicking sound

Hello:

I am a 23 year old male and I started noticing this problem about 6 months ago. When doing exercises that involve the arms in a wide position (wide grip pull ups, wide grip handstand comedowns, etc.) my left shoulder gives a pop sound when transitioning through a certain angle. It does not give me any pain but feels like some tight ligament moved over some bone and snapped into place again.

The clicking sound also happens when I do arm circles and is painless. It is pretty consistent (whenever the arm goes through that angle, the shoulder clicks). Is this a sign of a torn rotator cuff? Should I stop training? How can I stop this clicking/popping/crepitus?

I went to a regular doctor and he did some basic tests and told me that when the rotator cuff is torn, it is painful to lift the arm (which is not the case with me). However, it might be a partial tear, which is what I want to clear up. Can anyone tell me if my symptoms are matching up with a known injury?

Regards,
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Old 05-18-2008, 10:56 PM   #2
Steven Low
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Re: Shoulder popping/cracking/clicking sound

Here's a tip:
Don't do exercises that do that if you're that worried about it.

Popping and clicking are actually fairly common. If it doesn't hurt it's generally fine to do. If you had torn or partially torn an RC muscle you would know because you'd have a crapload of pain.

I'd avoid wide grip anything though. Learn everything shoulder width except for stuff that require a wide grip (only one I can think of right now is snatch).
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Old 05-19-2008, 09:23 AM   #3
Christian Lemburg
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Re: Shoulder popping/cracking/clicking sound

Hi Ahmad,

often, the clicking will be due to tight rhomboids (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhomboid_muscle). You could try self-massage (trigger points!) and see if it gets better. Obviously, any other tight muscles in the shoulder region, that could be the cause as well. Search and massage.

See http://www.board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=27539 for more about trigger points and self-massage.

Cheers,

Christian
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Old 05-19-2008, 09:20 PM   #4
Ahmad Sharif
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Re: Shoulder popping/cracking/clicking sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Low View Post
Here's a tip:
Don't do exercises that do that if you're that worried about it.

Popping and clicking are actually fairly common. If it doesn't hurt it's generally fine to do. If you had torn or partially torn an RC muscle you would know because you'd have a crapload of pain.

I'd avoid wide grip anything though. Learn everything shoulder width except for stuff that require a wide grip (only one I can think of right now is snatch).
Thank you very much for your replies (both you and Christian). The thing that annoys/worries me is that it is not a minor click sound. The sound is loud and feels like a large tendon is sliding over some bone.

I hope you are right in saying it is not a partial tear. Thank you once again, and let me know if there are any other suggestions (I am doing internal/external rotation to strengthen my RC... I focus on reps more than load for those exercises).

Regards,
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Old 05-19-2008, 09:41 PM   #5
Steven Low
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Re: Shoulder popping/cracking/clicking sound

Could be a tendon sliding over the bone. I mean, somethings probably out of place if it hasn't always been like that. Might want to ask a chiro or PT about it.
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Old 05-20-2008, 07:59 AM   #6
Mick Schwartz
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Re: Shoulder popping/cracking/clicking sound

Ahmad,

That popping could be more than just a pop. I would talk to a PT guy or a doctor. I had a similar problem that wasn't painful at first, it turned out that my collar bone was longer than it was supposed to be (about a half inch longer) and was making contact with my shoulder blade and pinching my ligaments. Stretching, especially compression stretching seemed to really help. You can probably Google the compression stretches for the shoulder. It helped me, maybe it will help you.

Respectfully,
Mick Schwartz
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Old 05-24-2008, 08:28 PM   #7
James J Devlin
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Re: Shoulder popping/cracking/clicking sound

Mick,
I know someone else who has these symptoms. How did you discover that it was caused by a long collar bone?
Thanks,
Jim
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Old 05-24-2008, 08:52 PM   #8
Emil Berengut
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Re: Shoulder popping/cracking/clicking sound

Ahmad, sounds in themselves don't always mean an underlying pathology. Sounds with pain or limitations in range of motion-do. It could be a few things and they can be assessed with an exam by. Most of them can be addressed with conservative(non-surgical) treatment. I don't want to throw out a bunch of names out there for diseases without cause. If the sound bothers you seek out a PT.
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Old 05-25-2008, 05:42 AM   #9
Camille Lore
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Re: Shoulder popping/cracking/clicking sound

This not exactly what you're experiencing, but my shoulders have been popping frequently in the past month or so (started CF in Jan) and it actually feels really good to me. I have some posture problems and shoulder tightness.
The tip from Steven Low about not doing things with a wide grip is helpful. I keep wondering how wide I should set my rings for pullups because it seems that certain widths hurt my shoulders, but I was thinking that narrower widths were better for them.
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Old 04-08-2009, 09:37 PM   #10
Ahmad Sharif
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Re: Shoulder popping/cracking/clicking sound

I have a long story to narrate, and an MRI result to show.

This problem started off with clicking/popping/grinding in the shoulder when I did weighted or unweighted lateral raises. The popping would be more prominent with the thumbs pointed down. I have been strengthening the RC muscles by doing external/internal rotations and other band exercises for the past few months.

I showed this to a couple of doctors and they ordered x-rays to make sure there was no bone-on-bone grinding, which there wasn't, thankfully.

Then a doctor ordered a supraspinatus outlet-view x-ray and that revealed a bone spur on the acromion. I also got an MRI done without contrast. Here is the report of the MRI, which I'd appreciate if someone could comment on:

BEGIN MRI REPORT

Study: MRI of the left shoulder without contrast
Findings: The acromioclavicular joint is unremarkable.

There is diffuse thickening of the posterior aspect of the supraspinatus tendon, without focal tearing. The remaining portions of the supraspinatus tendon are unremarkable. The infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis tendons are unremarkable. No muscle atrophy of the rotator cuff is identified.

The biceps tenon is unremarkable. There is abnormal increased signal within the anterior labrum (axial sequence, images 12, 15) of unclear etiology. Further evaluation is limited owing to lack of significant joint effusion. There is no associated Hill-Sachs deformity.

The humeral head is normally situated. Normal marrow signal intensity is seen.

Impression:
1. Abnormal signal intensity within the anterior labrum of unclear etiology. Further evaluation is limited owing to lack of significant joint effusion. An MR arthrogram is recommended for further evaulation.
2. Mild tendinosis of the posterior aspect of the supraspinatus tendon, without tearing.

END MRI REPORT

According to the ortho, I have a tear in the labrum on the anterior side. He gave me a cortisone shot, to see if that reduces the thickening of the supraspinatus and told me that further evaluation will be done after a few weeks (to let the cortisone take it's effect).

Currently when I do normal activity (office work, etc.), there is no pain. When I do lateral raises there is a click at around 90 - 110 degrees abduction, especially audible when the thumbs are pointed down. Even with this click if it is unweighted, there is no pain. But the shoulder feels unstable if abducted at around 90 degrees in a lateral position. Moving the arm back and forth in this position produces clicking sounds and a slight pain if loaded. Wide grip chin-ups will also pain a bit at the lowest fully-extended position (along with the grind/click).

What I want to know is this:

Has anyone experienced something like this? What do you think of the ortho's conclusion? How much does an anterior labrum tear hurt? Could this just be the RC strumming against the bone spur? I am going to another ortho to get a second opinion in a few weeks.
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