A winged scapula is usually the result of damage to one of the nerves that control the muscles in the arms, back, and neck. It can also occur when there is a weak muscle that is supposed to stabilize the shoulder blade. In some cases, winged scapula can develop after a sports injury or traumatic accident.
Pain and weakness are the most common symptoms of winged scapula, although severity varies from person to person. Because the shoulder blade sticks out, sitting in a chair or wearing a backpack may be difficult. When nerve damage occurs, weakness can limit the ability to lift, push, or pull.
Physicians can usually diagnose winged scapula by examining the shoulder blade for signs of protrusion. They may also ask about symptoms and recent injuries, illnesses, or surgeries that could have affected the back.
In most cases, winged scapula can be treated with physical therapy and pain medications such as anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants. In some cases, bracing may be effective. If conservative treatments are not providing relief, surgery could be beneficial.