At times, the movement of the human shoulder leads to strange noises that can be alarming to some. Typically, the popping sensation is felt around where the arm connects to the joint. This noise, or pop, is called crepitus. This noise, whether you consider it a click, pop, or grinding can be experienced on its own, or there can be pain or a sudden feeling of warmth involved. Any pain involved with this condition could be a symptom of another condition or a potential injury. Commonly reported symptoms that go along with a click, pop, or grinding in the shoulder include pain, warmth, and stiffness. While these symptoms could be a symptom of minor irritation, they can also be a symptom of a serious medical condition as well.

What Causes Shoulder Crepitus

The shoulder joint may look like it is the strongest joint in the body, but it has many weaknesses. Your shoulder is composed of three primary parts. Your arm bone fits into a cup in the shoulder blade. The arm bone is then held in place by a group of muscles, referred to as the rotator cuff. Inside the structure we call our shoulder, there is a soft cup-shaped piece of cartilage that cushions the shoulder joint. This structural make up allows the range of motion we experience in our shoulder. However, this same freedom of movement leaves our shoulder at risk for developing a serious injury. Here are some common reasons why people experience a shoulder clicking when lifting arm.


Many times, people experience this cracking or popping noise when they have been working out a lot. It can also occur when you lift your arm quickly. This popping is not much different then what you experience when you pop your knuckles and it does not indicate any underlying condition. Typically, this happens without any pain, but if there is pain experienced it is not greater than what you experience when you pop your knuckles. Simply put, this is caused by an air bubble being released from the joint. Other conditions that may cause the sound of popping, cracking, clicking, or grinding in your shoulder joint include: Bursitis, Fractures of the ribs or scapula, Labral Tears, Osteochondroma, or Osteoarthritis.

These conditions are likely to cause noises in the shoulder. These conditions are known to cause pain. They may also cause burning in the joint and surrounding muscles.

Shoulder Pain and Popping

The condition referred to as crepitus in the shoulder does not always cause pain. Even when the shoulder is in perfect condition, the joint can pop, crack, and grind. If you experience this condition and it is painful or causes a burning sensation, take time to rest your shoulder. If the pain is severe or does not subside after a few days, consult your doctor to ensure that there is no underlying condition causing it. They may preform x-rays or a CT scan to ensure you do not have an injury to your shoulder joint.

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