These are the most common conditions for shoulder cracking and popping:

1. Rotator Cuff Tears:

The rotator cuff tendons are structures that usually have little blood supply. The higher the blood supply to a tissue is, the better and faster it can repair and maintain itself. Areas of low blood supply to the rotator cuff make these tendons especially vulnerable to degeneration and aging.

The common degeneration of aging helps explain why the rotator cuff tear is a common injury, the older the patient is. Rotator cuff tears usually occur due to low blood supply especially in case of the normal degeneration of age.

This degeneration can be accelerated by repetitive movements of the shoulder. This is what happens to athletes "pitchers" that are much studied in the USA. But even routine tasks such as cleaning windows, washing and waxing cars, or painting can cause fatigue to the rotator cuff due to its over usage.

Excessive force can also tear the rotator cuff tendons. This force can result from trying to pick up a heavy object falling or lifting a heavy object at arm's length. Usually the breaks for wear of the rotator cuff are painful, but at times may be asymptomatic. Researchers estimate that about 40% of people over 50 have ruptures of the rotator cuff, but the vast majority are asymptomatic.

2. Recurrent Shoulder Dislocation:

The shoulder instability often results in a traumatic episode of anterior shoulder dislocation. The joint after the episode of dislocation should be reduced immediately (put in place). The shoulder may seem to return to normal, but the joint often remains unstable. The ligaments that hold the shoulder in the glenoid, along with the labrum, may get stretched or torn. This makes them too loose to keep the shoulder in engagement when it moves. This results in shoulder cracking or snapping.

3. Arthritis

Cartilage is a tissue present at the ends of bones and is responsible for the sliding between them. When there is motion in the joint, thanks to the lubricating synovial fluid and damping cartilage, bones between them slide with minimal friction. The osteoarthritis is cartilage degeneration. In the early stages of osteoarthritis the cartilage becomes rougher, thus increasing the friction during the movement of the joint causing sound of shoulder cracking and popping. The treatment of osteoarthritis must be performed early. There are no methods to prevent altogether the development of osteoarthritis, but there are ways to slow its deterioration and to avoid pain and chronic inflammation.