How To Diagnose My Shoulder Crunching

How To Diagnose My Shoulder Crunching

Everyone experiences occasional shoulder pain or discomfort. However, if you have pain or swelling in your shoulder and hear a crunching sound, you may be dealing with a serious injury. At New York Sports Medicine Institute, our team is highly experienced in handling conditions and injuries that affect the shoulders. To learn more about what may be causing your shoulder to make that crunching sound, consider contacting our team.

Why Is My Shoulder Crunching?

Your shoulder joint enables maximum mobility of your arm. Hearing your shoulder crunch or crack can be unsettling, but crunching, cracking, or popping sounds are not uncommon in the joints. This sensation is referred to as crepitus. It is important to keep in mind that constant crunching in your shoulder accompanied by pain and swelling is not normal. You should not ignore that sound in the hope that it will simply go away on its own. Here are some reasons why your shoulder may be experiencing crunching:

  • Shoulder dislocation – Dislocation of the shoulder can cause joint instability, and the joint shifting out of place can cause a crunching sound.
  • Scapulothoracic bursitis – The bursa protects your joints and helps the surfaces of your joint move. When the bursa becomes irritated, you may feel significant pain, warmth and hear a crunching noise when you try to move your arms. 
  • Labral tears – The shoulder labrum can become torn from overuse, injury, or age. The tears can create a crunching sound when you try to use your shoulder. 
  • Osteoarthritis – The cartilage providing cushioning to your bones starts to break down as we age. Crunching sounds can mean that your bones are rubbing against each other. This noise can be an early indication of arthritis. 
  • Osteochondroma – These are benign bone tumors that can cause your shoulder to crack when you raise your arms. 
  • Cavitation – Cavitation can cause your shoulder to make noise. This indicates that air bubbles are being released from your joints. 

When To See A Doctor?

If your shoulder pops occasionally and you don’t have pain, you may not be dealing with a serious injury. It is important to be aware of the signs of serious injury. If you believe that you have injured your shoulder, you should not hesitate to consult with our orthopedic sports medicine team so that we can help get you back to full health. Our team will evaluate your condition and develop the appropriate treatment plan to lower your chances of dealing with complications in the future. If you experience the following symptoms, you should consider reaching out to our team right away:

  • Shoulder instability. 
  • Consistent pain in the shoulder. 
  • Swelling or warmth in the shoulder. 
  • Limited range of motion. 
  • Weakness. 
  • Constant crunching sensation as you move the shoulder. 


Every individual is different, and there are numerous conditions and injuries that can lead to shoulder crunching. First, our team will evaluate your situation and pinpoint the root cause of your pain and discomfort. After your comprehensive evaluation, we will determine the treatment plans that will yield the best possible results. We provide both conservative and surgical treatment options to target your injury. Here are some of the treatments used to treat conditions affecting the shoulder:

  • Bracing and immobilization. 
  • Corticosteroid injections. 
  • Physical Therapy. 
  • Anti-inflammatory medications. 
  • Surgery.

Contact New York Sports Medicine Institute

At New York Sports Medicine Institute, we understand that dealing with a shoulder injury can be frustrating. If crunching and popping in your shoulder is a common occurrence for you, you should not hesitate to seek treatment. We have helped countless patients deal with this condition and will provide you with the individualized treatment you need to make a full recovery. To learn more about what causes joint crunching, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today!