What is Shoulder Blade Pain?
Pain in the shoulder blade is nearly always due to a problem in the neck. The joints of the neck share many of the same nerve pathways as the bone and muscle of the shoulder blade region. If a problem arises in the lower part of the neck or the upper part of the back then it is often felt in the region of the shoulder blade.
The shoulder blade is also called the scapula and this kind of shoulder blade pain is sometimes referred to as scapular pain
Shoulder blade pain only rarely arises due to a problem with the shoulder blade.
True scapular problems are rare and include bone disease such as infection or bone tumour. These causes account for no more than a tiny percentage of shouder blade pain problems.
Virtually all cases of shoulder blade pain are due to problems in the lower part of the neck or the upper part of the back. This pattern of pain is known as referred pain. Referred pain from the neck is usually felt along the inner side of the shoulder blade - the side nearest the spine in other words.
Your doctor or therapist will begin the diagnosis of shoulder blade pain with a simple examination. They will examine your shoulder joint, muscles and the nerves of the upper arm. Your cervical spine (or neck) will also be examined - along with your upper back or thoracic spine. This can help to rule out conditions like frozen shoulder which can coexist.
If your shoulder blade pain is arising in the cervical spine then neck movements will trigger it or make it worse.
Your doctor may organise an x-ray of the neck or an MRI scan to confirm the diagnosis of a neck problem although this is not always required.
If your doctor suspects another reason for your shoulder blade pain then you may need blood tests, a chest x-ray or an MRI scan of the chest or thoracic region.
Severe shoulder blade pain of sudden onset can be an indication of serious heart or blood vessel problems. You should seek medical attention immediately if this occurs
Here's a useful video dealing with neck pain that spreads down the arm:
The treatment of shoulder blade pain will in part depend on the cause that your doctor or therapist discovers. The commonest cause is related to the neck or cervical spine and treatment is usually best directed at this area.
Neck treatments for shoulder blade pain often result in a quick and full recovery.
Treatment options for shoulder blade pain include:
- painkiller or anti-inflammation medication
- physical therapy from a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath
- manipulation of the neck or thoracic spine
frozen shoulder treatment
adhesive capsulitis treatment
shoulder blade pain treatment
shoulder bursitis treatment
shoulder calcification treatment
shoulder impingement syndrome
neck and shoulder pain treatment
shoulder muscle injury
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