A winged scapula is a shoulder injury or condition causing the scapula or shoulder blade to protrude out at the back, which is exaggerated when pushing against an object. It is the result of damage or a contusion to the long thoracic nerve of the shoulder or area muscle weakness. This nerve damage may also be the result of a direct trauma to the shoulder.
Aside from the protrusion of the scapula at the back, those suffering from winged scapula also experience pain, a reduction in shoulder movement, difficulty lifting and pressure on the scapula when sitting or leaning against a solid surface such as a chair.
Those at Risk
Athletes involved in contact sports placing the shoulder in jeopardy of a direct blow are often diagnosed with winged scapula.
The protrusion at the back is a strong indicator of winged scapula. Patient history and physical examination are generally all that is necessary for diagnosis. Though, an X-ray may be indicated to thoroughly assess the area of impact and rule out other damage.
Initial treatment for winged scapula is conservative and involves a complete rehabilitation program designed to strengthen the shoulder and surrounding muscles. If the condition is not improved with conservative treatment, surgery may be required to correct the problem and restore full shoulder function.