James B. Grimes, MD
mis med pro

Scapulothoracic Bursitis

The scapulothoracic joint is located where the shoulder blade or scapula joins the rib cage. The scapula moves easily due to the presence of bursae (fluid filled sacs), which help in the smooth movement of the joint. Inflammation of the bursa is termed scapulothoracic bursitis. This inflammation may be caused due to over usage, consistent motion and repetitive movements of the joint.

The various symptoms of scapulothoracic bursitis include:

  • Grinding, grating and snapping noises during movement of the shoulders
  • Pain during movement of the shoulders
  • Pain in the scapula (shoulder blade) or ribcage.

Scapulothoracic bursitis is diagnosed based on your medical history and conducting a physical examination to check for the symptoms. Your doctor may also perform imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans to get a clear picture of the inner aspects of the shoulder blade and confirm diagnosis.

Based on the severity of the condition, scapulothoracic bursitis can be treated both surgically and non-surgically.

  • Non-surgical treatment: these treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, strengthening the muscles around the shoulder blade and giving corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation of the bursa.
  • Surgical treatment: this treatment is used when the non-surgical treatment fails to provide relief. Surgical procedures are mostly performed arthroscopically and involve removal of the inflamed bursa along with any bony extensions on the shoulder, which are rubbing against the ribcage.


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