“My Shoulder Pops When Rotating” | 5 Reasons Why It Happens


Have you ever heard your shoulder make such a noise when rotating it? If so, don’t worry! A shoulder that pops when rotated is not as uncommon as you think. In fact, shoulder injuries are one of the most common joint and muscle problems a doctor has to deal with.

Often, the jarring pop sound is accompanied by an intense pain shooting up your arm. This is a sign that your shoulder needs immediate attention and should not be overlooked. A popping shoulder can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Why Your Shoulder Pops When You’re Rotating It

If your shoulder pops every time you rotate it, it might be due to an injury in the joint. Considering how your shoulder joint consists of a ball and socket, along with other muscles, putting too much stress on your joints can lead to serious damage, such as:

  1. Cavitation
    Sometimes the popping sounds are nothing more than air bubbles escaping the shoulder joint, especially if you move your arm too fast. These air bubbles are found in the liquid lubricating your joints, keeping them from rubbing against each other.
  2. Labral Tear
    Your labrum is located under the shoulder blade, and it is a soft cartilage that helps to keep the ball joint in place. However, since it’s so soft and fragile, the labrum easily gets damaged. A tear or rip in the labrum tissue can result in severe pain and popping sounds while rotating the arm.
  3. Osteoarthritis
    Old age can cause a lot of health issues, one of which is osteoarthritis. This is a type of condition that occurs when the lubrication between your joints dries up, leading to loud popping and cracking sounds coming from the joints when moved.
  4. Rotator Cuff Damage
    A rotator cuff is comprised of four primary muscles that keep your shoulder intact. However, when damaged, you may experience intense pain coursing through your entire arm or hear odd pops coming from your shoulder when rotating it.
  5. Scapulothoracic Bursitis
    Bursae are small sacs full of fluid located between your joints that prevent bone friction. However, these bursae can cause severe aches and cracking sounds when worn down or inflamed.

Treatment Options

As minor as it seems, a shoulder that pops when rotated is not something to ignore. If left untreated, it can lead to serious osteological complications. Here are some treatments that help to ease the pain of a popping shoulder:

  • OTC Pain Relievers
  • Corticosteroid Injections
  • Physical Therapy
  • Massage Therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory Medications


All in all, a shoulder that pops when rotating is usually a sign of old age, escaping air bubbles, and sometimes, a serious injury. In any case, do not brush away the pain or sound, no matter how jarring it may be.

Seeking treatment in time can help you recover faster and prevent oddities. Nevertheless, for more information and professional consultation, contact Rheumatology Care at 832-532-9779. You can find us at 13688 Breton Ridge St, STE H, Houston, TX 77070, near Houston Kidney Specialists Center.

Disclaimer - Use At Your Own Risk :- The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. Any action you take upon the information on these blogs are strictly at your own risk. We will not be liable for any losses or damages in connection with the use of the information from these blogs.
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