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Crunchy Shoulder? Find Out Why

Snap. Crackle. Pop. If you use the names of the Rice Krispies mascots to describe your shoulder issues, this article is for you. While these sensations or even sounds can happen in any joint, the shoulder has its own specific conditions that can lead to them. They are:

  1. AC joint arthritis or a disc tear
  2. Bicep dislocation or instability
  3. Shoulder instability where the ball-and-socket joint either subluxes or dislocates entirely

Of the three, the most common reason is bicep instability. Surprised? You aren’t alone. Biceps are typically discussed in regard to the gym and weight lifting. However, that isn’t the part of the bicep we’re referencing. We’re actually referring to the tendon of the biceps and not the muscle itself.

Could You Have Bicep Instability?

If you’re unsure if that is your issue, let’s take a closer look at the indicators of bicep instability. This may be your issue if your answer is yes to any of the following:

  • Does your pain occur around the deltoid, or even triceps, muscles?
  • Do you feel pain when reaching in the back seat of a car?
  • Does putting on a coat, seat belt, or bra hurt?
  • Do you feel pain when throwing a ball — specifically on the release?

The symptoms mentioned could indicate bicep instability. It’s important to remember though that pain of any kind isn’t normal — even if you couldn’t identify with any of those potential symptoms. We recommend contacting a Beacon shoulder specialist if you are experiencing any kind of shoulder pain.

I Know I Feel Shoulder Pain But Why?

Your biceps subluxing or dislocating out of the groove is the most common cause for your shoulder pain. That’s where the biceps instability comes into play. It’s the result of the loose or torn soft-tissue mechanism, which is the biceps pulley or rotator interval. This system can be torn in a traumatic event when the arm is jerked suddenly (like when a dog pulls a leash), or it can loosen gradually as one ages or does repetitive activities — like swimming — over time.

Treating Biceps Instability

One of the most powerful interventions in treating biceps instability is a corticosteroid injection. This can provide between 6-8 months of freedom from your shoulder pain. Ultimately, if the shots don’t provide lasting relief, though, a surgical repair may be necessary.

Repairing the biceps instability surgically is the best option for some patients to restore their quality of movement. The surgery is an outpatient surgery. Patients typically begin rehab within a week of surgery and can fully raise their arms in 4-6 weeks.

The treatment options for shoulder joint arthritis, tears, and shoulder instability have similar care plan protocols. Regardless of the cause of your shoulder pain, a Beacon shoulder specialist can help you determine the right course of action to have you feeling better, so you can get back to enjoying life. Schedule an appointment today!

Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine +