Winged Scapula

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What is a Winged Scapula?

Image result for Winged ScapulaWinged scapula is not an injury in itself, but a symptom of another condition. It occurs where the shoulder blade protrudes out on the back, rather than laying flat against the back of the chest wall.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons at Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder institute provide treatments for winged scapula and various others conditions to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada and surrounding locations in The Sagebrush State.


A winged scapula is often easily noticed as the scapular or shoulder blade protrudes outwards sticking out of the back. The patient may experience pain in the shoulder blade with pressure on the scapular from a chair while sitting. In some cases, the condition may occur due to an injury resulting in nerve damage. Such patients may have limited shoulder elevation and may also experience shoulder blade pain.


Winged scapula is a fairly common dysfunction of the shoulder because it may also occur due to a poor posture. It is called winged scapula because the medial or inner border of the scapula may appear to be wing-like on the back.

A winged scapula is associated with a contusion or damage to the long thoracic nerve of the shoulder as well as weakness in the Serratus Anterior muscle. If the long thoracic nerve gets bruised or damaged, it can lead to paralysis of the serratus anterior muscle and winging of the scapular or shoulder blade.

Nerve damage can occur due to a contusion or blunt trauma of the shoulder, traction of the neck, and can also sometimes result from a viral illness.


Application of ice therapy can help mitigate the pain in the shoulder blade. However, the back can be a difficult play to apply an ice pack, and the patient will require assistance. It is important for the patient to undergo a complete rehabilitation and strengthening program that will include winged scapular exercises as well as a range of other exercises for the shoulder.

The vital muscle to strengthen in this case is the serratus anterior muscle, which performs the role of holding the shoulder blade in place. The serratus anterior, which is also known as the punching muscle, can be strengthened with the help of punching type exercises.

The patient should seek professional medical treatment from an orthopedic surgeon, especially when the shoulder fails to respond to muscle strengthening exercises. Initial treatment is usually conservative but in a few cases where the condition is caused by nerve entrapment or if other treatments fail, surgery may have to be performed.

Winged Scapula Exercises

To target the Serratus Anterior directly, the best exercises will involve scapula protraction along with serratus press exercises. Any movement that allows the shoulder to protract forwards at the end range of movement will target the serratus anterior. Punching a punch bag will also help to improve the resilience of this muscle.

The exercise regimen should only be performed under the guidance of a qualified professional. Stellar, committed, and board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven Thomas and Dr. Gregory Bigler receive patients for winged scapula from Las Vegas, Nevada and nearby areas.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. call (702) 933-9393; Physical Therapy (702) 933-9393.

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