HomeHealth articlesexercisesScapular Dyskinesis or SICK Scapula

This article discusses scapular dyskinesis or SICK scapula, one of the causes of vague arm pain, especially seen in homemakers. Read the article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

iCliniq medical review team

Published At May 15, 2017
Reviewed AtSeptember 29, 2023


There are many reasons behind a typical vague pain in the arm, but one of the commonest is scapular dyskinesis or SICK scapula. This mimics many types of pain in the shoulder and neck. The scapulothoracic muscles are the group of muscles that form the most important musculoskeletal foundation for the upper quarter of the body. They are connected to the backbone, scapula (shoulder blade), and humerus (arm), together. They work in harmony with the scapulohumeral muscles to provide free movement of the arm. This harmony is called a scapulohumeral rhythm. Out of these scapulothoracic muscles, the serratus anterior, middle trapezius, and lower trapezius are the major stabilizers of the scapula. Together, they keep the scapula, 30 to 45 degrees medially rotated in a coronal plane, 10 to 20 degrees anteriorly tipped in a vertical plane, and 10 to 20 degrees elevated from the vertical plane. This typical positioning gives depth to the shoulder joint, and the optimum length-tension relationship of arm muscles, which improves their working efficiency.

What Are the Unusual Shoulder Blade Positioning Found in Homemakers?

  1. A prominent inferior angle of the scapula at rest.

  2. A prominent entire medial border of the scapula at rest.

  3. A prominent superior angle of the scapula at rest, with anterior displacement of the scapula.

  4. At rest, the symmetrical positioning of the scapula. While on movement, no scapular muscle control.

What Are the Causes of Musculoskeletal Disorders in Homemakers?

The causes of musculoskeletal disorders in homemakers are as follows:

  • Repetitive Movements: Repetitive and overuse of the muscles in various fine and gross arm activities, which are required for most of the activities such as scrubbing or sweeping can strain the muscles.

  • Stress: Mental stresses, resulting in poor relaxation of muscles. So, they are constantly working.

  • Poor fluid or electrolyte levels in the body.

  • An inherent weakness of the scapular muscles.

  • Awkward postures can put a strain on the muscles.

  • Insufficient rest.

  • Heavy lifting such as furniture and children can put stress on muscles.

  • Rounded shoulders, due to heavy breast tissues.

  • Kyphosis or hunchback, due to weak thoracic bones, or lack of vitamin D3.

  • Hormonal factors during menopause can impact bone health.

What Are the Various Musculoskeletal Disorders Found in Homemakers?

The musculoskeletal disorders found in homemakers are as follows:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Homemakers who do repetitive movements such as cleaning and chopping can cause the condition. The condition may compress the wrist nerve. The symptoms include weakness and hand pain.

  • Tendonitis: Scrubbing and gardening can lead to inflammation of the tendons.

  • De Quervain’s Syndrome: Frequent twisting can affect the wrist tendons on the thumb side. This can lead to swelling, pain, and difficulty in thumb movements.

  • Osteoarthritis: Repetitive stress on the hips and knees can cause pain and limited function of these joints.

  • Muscle Strains and Sprains: Falls, injuries, and excessive stress on the joints can cause muscle strains and sprains.

  • Neck and shoulder pain can be due to holding children.

  • Back pain can be due to bending and lifting.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Musculoskeletal Disorders in Homemakers?

The signs and symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders in homemakers are as follows:

  • Pain in neck, back, shoulders, wrists, and hands.

  • Muscle and joint stiffness.

  • Swelling in the affected tendons, joints, and muscles.

  • Reduced flexibility and mobility.

  • Weakness in the affected muscles or joints.

  • Difficulty in performing daily tasks.

  • Numbness in the hands or fingers.

  • Muscle fatigue.

How Are Musculoskeletal Disorders in Homemakers Diagnosed?

The musculoskeletal disorders in homemakers can be diagnosed by a comprehensive examination. The diagnostic tests are as follows:

  • Physical Examination: The healthcare professional may physically assess the affected area. The doctor may look for symptoms such as pain, swelling, and limited mobility. An individual's muscle strength and posture can be assessed.

  • Medical History: The healthcare provider may ask the patient about any previous medical conditions or injuries leading to musculoskeletal disorders.

  • Imaging Tests: The doctor may prescribe the patient some imaging tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computed tomography (CT) to see the joints, bones, muscles, and soft tissues. This will help in identifying any muscle tears or fractures.

  • Blood Tests: The doctor may prescribe blood tests to check for any systemic conditions.

How Can Musculoskeletal Disorders in Homemakers Be Managed?

The treatment options are as follows:

  • Medications: The doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to get rid of pain and inflammation. Additional topical creams and muscle relaxants can be given.

  • Physical Exercise: The physiotherapist may advise the patient to do physical therapy to improve strength and flexibility. This will also help in improving joint mobility.

  • Devices: The doctor may prescribe devices like splints and orthotics to provide stability and support.

  • Lifestyle Changes: Frequent breaks between work can improve the condition.

  • Injections: The doctor may prescribe corticosteroid injections to reduce pain.

  • Surgical Treatment: The surgeon may recommend surgery in the case if the above treatment does not provide relief to the patient. The surgical procedure includes spine surgery and joint replacement.

How Are Musculoskeletal Disorders in Homemakers Prevented?

The preventive measures are as below:

  • Take frequent breaks from work.

  • Keep the shoulder blades tight.

  • Stretch the spine backward, at least three to four times a day.

  • Avoid stooping forward.

  • Keep a minimum fluid intake of three to four liters (0.79 to 1.06 gallons) a day.

  • Maintaining a straight posture.

  • Regular exercise.

  • Weight management.

  • Avoid overloading with excessive household work.


Homemakers are more prone to musculoskeletal disorders. Common musculoskeletal disorders include back, neck, and shoulder pain. The symptoms include pain, weakness, swelling, and fatigue. The healthcare provider may prescribe medications, injections, surgical interventions, and lifestyle modifications. Homemakers must follow preventive measures such as regular exercise, taking breaks, avoiding household chores overload, and weight management.

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Tanushree Agarwal
Tanushree Agarwal


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