We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Winged Scapula?

By H. Colledge
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A winged scapula is a shoulder blade, or shoulder bone, which protrudes abnormally from a person's back. Since the scapula sticks straight out, it resembles a wing, which gives rise to the name of this condition. A winged scapula is typically caused by damage to a nerve known as the long thoracic nerve. This nerve supplies a muscle called the serratus anterior, which is situated on the side of the chest and normally acts to pull the scapula forward. While this is the true winged scapula condition, a number of other problems affecting muscles around the shoulder may also cause winging of the scapula to some extent.

Damage to the long thoracic nerve can be caused by a blow to the neck or shoulder, or by activities such as weight lifting or those sports that involve a lot of throwing. Sometimes other structures in the body press on the nerve, or it may become inflamed during a viral illness. Pushing against a wall with both palms is a way of testing whether a winged scapula is due to long thoracic nerve damage; this action should cause the scapula to protrude. As well as looking odd, a winged scapula may cause pain and catch on the backs of chairs, and it can be difficult to raise the arm or lift heavy loads.

Many different muscles are attached to the scapula and work together to move it around normally. If any of the muscles are not functioning as they should, this can lead to the whole system becoming unbalanced, resulting in winging of the scapula. For example, an important muscle known as the trapezius muscle, which helps to raise the scapula into its normal position, may have its nerve supply damaged during surgery. Injuries and fractures of the ligaments and bones that surround the scapula can also cause winging. A winged scapula may occur in muscular dystrophy, a condition which causes muscle weakness, and winging may even be a result of pain, where shoulder movement becomes abnormally limited.

The treatment of a winged scapula depends on the cause and severity of the problem, with some cases resolving by themselves. Sometimes, if the long thoracic nerve has been injured but the damage is not too serious, a course of physiotherapy over several months will cure the condition. Where the long thoracic nerve is severely compressed by other structures, surgery may be needed to remove whatever is causing the pressure. In extreme cases, parts of another nerve may be used to help restore function.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.