Shoulder Blade Pain Explained: Causes and Treatment Options

Pain under the shoulder blade is a common complaint, affecting people of all ages and activity levels. It can range from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing pain, significantly impacting your daily activities. This blog post dives into the various causes of shoulder blade pain, including shoulder blade winging, retraction, and fractures. We will also explore treatment options to help you find relief.

Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment or changing your existing treatment plan.

Understanding the Anatomy

The shoulder blade, also known as the scapula, is a flat bone that connects your upper arm bone (humerus) to your collarbone (clavicle) and spine. Several muscles attach to the shoulder blade, allowing for arm movement and stability.

Common Culprits of Shoulder Blade Pain

  • Muscle Strain: Overuse, poor posture, or awkward movements can strain muscles around the shoulder blade, leading to pain and stiffness. This is a frequent cause of pain, especially for those with physically demanding jobs or those who hunch over desks for extended periods.
  • Shoulder Blade Winging: This condition occurs when the shoulder blade protrudes outward from the back when the arm is raised. It can be caused by weakness or imbalance in the muscles that control the shoulder blade’s movement.
  • Shoulder Blade Retraction: In this case, the shoulder blade squeezes inward toward the spine. It can be associated with tight chest muscles or postural issues.
  • Herniated Disc: When the soft inner material of a spinal disc in the upper back bulges or leaks out, it can compress nerves and cause pain that radiates to the shoulder blade area.
  • Cervical Spondylosis: Wear and tear on the joints and discs in the neck can sometimes lead to pain that travels up to the shoulder blade.
  • Rotator Cuff Injury: Tears or inflammation in the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint, can cause pain that radiates to the shoulder blade.
  • Shoulder Impingement: When tendons or muscles in the shoulder become irritated due to rubbing against nearby bones, it can lead to pain under the shoulder blade.
  • Scapular Fracture: While less common, a fracture in the shoulder blade can occur due to a fall or direct impact. Pain will likely be severe and accompanied by bruising and swelling.

Left Shoulder Blade Pain/Pain in Upper Back Left Side Under Shoulder Blade

Pain specifically on the left side under the shoulder blade could be caused by any of the conditions mentioned above. However, it’s also important to consider other possibilities like:

  • Heart-Related Issues: In rare cases, pain on the left side of the chest or back can be a symptom of a heart attack. If you experience this pain along with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, or lightheadedness, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Spleen Issues: The spleen is an organ located on the left side of the upper abdomen, near the ribs. Inflammation or enlargement of the spleen can sometimes cause referred pain to the left shoulder blade area.

When to See a Doctor

While some pain might improve with self-care, it’s crucial to consult a doctor if you experience:

  • Persistent or worsening pain
  • Pain that radiates down your arm or hand
  • Numbness, weakness, or tingling in your arm or hand
  • Difficulty with daily activities like reaching or lifting
  • Fever, chills, or unexplained weight loss (which could indicate a more serious condition)

Treatment Options for Shoulder Blade Pain

Depending on the underlying cause, treatment options for shoulder blade pain may include:

  • Rest and Activity Modification: Avoiding strenuous activities that aggravate the pain can allow for healing.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can assess your specific condition and create a personalized exercise program to improve flexibility, strengthen muscles, and correct postural imbalances.
  • Pain Management: Medications like over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage pain and inflammation.
  • Massage Therapy: Massage can help loosen tight muscles, improve circulation, and alleviate pain and stiffness.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: Injections can be used to reduce inflammation around irritated nerves or tissues.
  • Surgery: In rare cases of severe fractures or rotator cuff tears, surgery might be necessary for repair.

At Healing Edge, we understand the challenges of shoulder blade pain. Our team of experienced professionals can help diagnose the source of your discomfort and develop a personalized treatment plan to get you back to living a pain-free life. We offer a variety of services, including physical therapy, massage therapy (if offered), and pain management techniques to address your specific needs.

Schedule a consultation today to discuss your pain and explore a personalized treatment plan for lasting relief!