Can Scapular Dyskinesis Predict Future Shoulder Pain? | Southeast Sports Seminars

Can Scapular Dyskinesis Predict Future Shoulder Pain?

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It’s highly likely you’ve encountered shoulder pain and injury as a common complaint in your office.  Often times when patients realize there is a problem, it should have been addressed months prior and now they are seeking out any means necessary to avoid surgery.  This is especially true with athletes.

This meta analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine attempted to draw a correlation between scapular dyskinesis and future shoulder pain–asking whether the movement of the scapula can affect even those that are asymptomatic at the time of assessment.

“The traditional approach to understanding the mechanisms of shoulder pain has involved specific anatomical diagnostic labels. The validity of using specific anatomical diagnostic labels has been challenged extensively, particularly regarding non-acute shoulder pain.11–13 Clinical features of specific anatomical diagnoses, such as reduced external rotation or an external rotation lag, indicative of frozen shoulder and rotator cuff tear, respectively, are inconsistent predictors of outcome.14 Specific anatomical diagnostic labels provide limited clinical guidance in patient management or estimating prognosis.15 For these reasons, experts are calling for a paradigm shift away from these labels and encouraging identifying modifiable risk factors associated with onset of shoulder pain or that influence prognosis, such as abnormal motor patterns or movement impairments.”

Their Results?

“Five studies were included with a total of 419 athletes. Of the athletes with scapular dyskinesis, 35% (56/160) experienced shoulder pain during the follow-up, whereas 25% (65/259) of athletes without scapular dyskinesis experienced symptoms. The presence of scapular dyskinesis at baseline indicated a 43% increased risk of a shoulder pain event over a 9 to 24 months follow-up (RR=1.43, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.93).”

Bottom Line: Check the scapula and get it moving.

Assessment of the shoulder is important for any throwing or overhead athlete that walks through your doors, and this study would imply that even pre-emptive assessment is not out of the question.  Many of the subjects who later developed shoulder pain were asymptomatic at the time of assessment.

Two of our favorite assessments for scapular dyskinesis:

  • wall push-up test
  • scapulohumeral rhythm test

Read the full research article here.

To learn more about treatment options for Scapular Dyskinesis, check out our upcoming hands-on course schedule here.