Why Is Your Shoulder Popping, Clicking, or Cracking?

Last Updated on August 11, 2020

We are quite familiar with clicking, popping, or cracking sound in the shoulder while moving our arm. We face them while doing exercises, lifting something on the shoulder, and in so many ways. They can come along with acute pain on the shoulder.

Sometimes we don’t feel any discomfort along with them, so avoid pain on the shoulder. Sometimes we feel mild pain but neglect them anyway. But the reality is, even if it doesn’t hurt, you should consult with the doctor immediately.

Why Is Your Shoulder Popping, Clicking, or Cracking

Shoulder Popping, Clicking, or Cracking

Indeed, they do not point at something dangerous all the time. But sometimes your shoulder generates such kind of sound because of something dangerous on your shoulder. There might be a lot of reasons behind it. We are going to enlist all possible causes for shoulder clicking, popping, or cracking in this article.

Body Type

The physical structure of the human body is directly related to the movement capabilities as well as resultant noise. People with active shoulder muscles tend to feel less pain on their shoulders.

On the other hand, people with weak shoulder muscles may have body misalignment, which results in cracking or clicking noise. Besides, it can also occur due to the weak posture of the body or imbalances of muscles.

The Pressure of Gas

You may hear a clicking, popping, or cracking sound because of cavitation. It happens when various kinds of gases are releasing from your joints to lubricate them. Most often, this process doesn’t create any pain in the shoulder.

It happens when you stretch the arm after a long time. The joint capsule extends all of a sudden and releases gases with a popping sound. The sound dissipates as you move the arm a few more times.

Unnatural Shoulder Stretching

It happens when people try to do heavy work, which they are not used to do. For example, if you start to work out and bend your arm, you may hear popping sound. But as you keep doing exercises regularly, the shoulder muscles will be flexible, and you won’t hear such kind of noise. So please don’t push your arms too hard because it might create permanent shoulder pain.

Tensed Muscles

Tensed muscles refer to the muscle’s stiffness, which increases tensions in them. When the muscles press against the bones, they produce friction. If the muscles are tight, the amount of generated friction will be more than usual.

As a result, you will hear a popping sound. The stiffness of muscles will vanish after regular exercise, massage, or light movements. Don’t stretch too much when the muscles are tensed; otherwise, it will create permanent injury.

Scapulocostal Syndrome

Scapula, the shoulder bone of the human body, is protected by bursas. The bursas are sacs consisting of lubricating fluid, which situates between bones or skins. They reduce friction among bones and helps to move the shoulder efficiently. But if they get inflamed, you will feel a severe pain along with popping sound. It happens due to over-stretching the arm and shoulder.

Torn Cartilage

The labrum consists of fibrocartilage tissue helping to keep the joints in place. But it can be damaged due to excessive pressure and aging. When the labral tears occur, it generates a sharp pain while making an audible sound.


As we get older, we gradually lose the smoothness of the joints. It is also applicable to the super active person. As they work so hard, the smoothness of the joints vanishes. So whenever they try to move the arm, it causes a lot of popping and cracking. Besides, if anyone has arthritis, it will get more acute while getting older, resulting in shoulder pain with popping noise.

Physical Injury

Shoulder cracking or clicking can occur when you have a shoulder injury. Some damages like Rotator Cuff Tears take a long time to heal completely. If you hear a popping or cracking noise from the shoulder, there could be a chance that you still have the effect of the injury.

There are also some minor physical injuries which can result in painful popping should, if they are not healed in time. If your shoulder bones become dislocated by accident, they become unstable and create a cracking noise.

Final Words

Studies show that most people are suffering from shoulder pain at any stage of their life. So, never ignore clicking, popping, or cracking sound and contact with a shoulder specialist. If it is happening because of any disease or injury, It has a high probability of becoming more severe as time passes. Even a regular diagnostic MRI scan can detect problems on the shoulder.


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