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7 Possible Causes for Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade

How often have you felt pain creeping under your shoulder blade? Especially since working from home became a new norm. Working from almost any room and various postures have led several people to suffer pain in the upper back, particularly pain under the shoulder blade. Juggling work at home and household chores makes us more likely to ignore the correct postures to work in.

While pain in the right shoulder blade and left side shoulder blade pain may often be due to straining the muscles in the upper back, several other causes lead to back pain. It is always a good idea to find out what has been causing the pain. Here are some of those reasons:

What causes pain under the shoulder blades?

Musculoskeletal causes

Pain under the shoulder blade often arises from muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and intervertebral discs. Here are the musculoskeletal causes of pain:

Muscle strain

Muscle strain in the left side shoulder blade pain and right shoulder blade pain can happen due to lifting heavy weights or overuse injuries from overdoing any activity outside your routine. The muscle fibers are loaded beyond their capacity and get injured. This causes sharp pain and inflammation around and under the shoulder blade.

Poor posture

A poor posture overloads the spine and puts unequal stress on the structures around the spine. Many times, you may have to adopt continuous postures while working. You may work at your desk as an IT professional or bend while doing your chores. A poor posture can overload the muscles of the upper back and cause pain in the shoulder blades.


Fractures can cause pain under the shoulder, right shoulder blade pain and left side shoulder blade pain. The pain may also extend around the shoulder blade, making moving the arm pain. 

Cervical Disc Herniation

Cervical disc herniation causes the 'slipped' disc to put increased pressure on the neck and the upper back's ligaments, nerves, and muscles. The pain is often felt under the shoulder blade due to weakened upper back musculature.


An accident or a fall can cause the shoulder blade and the area around the shoulder to suffer injury. An injury from contact sports or a hit can cause pain and inflammation around and under the shoulder. The degree of pain would depend on the mechanism and extent of the injury.

Cardiac causes

Though less common than pain in the chest, pain under the shoulder blade may arise from cardiac causes. The possible reasons for pain in this area may be a heart attack, myocardial infarction, aortic dissection, or pericarditis.

Pulmonary causes

Pain under the shoulder blade may arise from pulmonary diseases. Conditions like pneumothorax or pulmonary embolism may also cause pain. Lung cancers and Pancoast tumors may also contribute to pain under the shoulder blade.

Abdominal and pelvic causes

Causes of abdominal and pelvic origin pain under the shoulder blade may occur from gastritis, acid reflux, inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, ectopic pregnancy, or ovarian cyst. This type of pain is called referred pain, though it is unusual in this area and is still possible. 

Other visceral causes

Another possible causes of shoulder blade pain are shingles, an infection that affects the area supplied by the affected nerve. It causes burning or tingling pain with a preceding rash. Gallstones may also cause pain.

Malignant causes

Lung, liver, oesophageal, lymphoma, or bone cancer may also lead to pain spreading to the area under the shoulder blade.

How to Get shoulder blade pain relief?


Short breaks from postures that cause pain help reduce the strain on the upper back muscles. Sometimes even taking a day off can relieve the pain in the shoulder blades.

Correct your posture

To get shoulder blade pain relief and allow the body's muscles to work efficiently without causing any strain. Small ergonomic changes to workplaces and household areas go a long way in reducing postural stress.

Support your back

Using back supports that help you prop yourself up and keep you in the correct posture will further get you to shoulder blade pain relief. Back support aligns your spine and sends the proper feedback to your brain to reinforce correct posture.

Apply a hot or cold pack

Using a hot or cold pack temporarily reduces pain or inflammation due to muscle strain in the upper back. Use them for at least ten minutes two to three times a day.

Stretching exercises

You can perform basic upper back stretches to relieve shoulder blade pain in the muscles. Performing basic stretches can also help prevent muscle strain in the upper back.

Seek treatment

Pain in the shoulder blade requires a thorough assessment. Seeking treatment is the best way to alleviate pain effectively.

How to prevent pain under the shoulder blade?

Learn the correct postures for every task

Whether working from home or cooking in your kitchen, learn the best postures to perform each task. Knowing which poses can relieve shoulder blade pain over your body will help you consciously work toward good postures.

Take regular breaks

Regular breaks every few hours help relieve any strain that may have accumulated in the structures of your body, particularly the postural muscles.

Watch your diet, and take supplements.

A balanced diet with the supplements your body requires will keep your body in the best of health. Muscles fatigue if you are not adequately hydrated or lack essential nutrients. Poor nutrition of muscles and bones makes them more susceptible to injury.

Exercise regularly

Keeping an active routine helps your body to maintain the strength and flexibility of your body. Regular exercise, whether yoga, pilates, swimming, or gymming, will contribute towards a healthy lifestyle to keep you pain-free.

When should I see a doctor about shoulder blade pain?

A variety of injuries and diseases can cause discomfort and reduced function in the shoulder. When you experience pain in your shoulder blades that persists for more than a few weeks or does not respond to home remedies, exercises, or hot/cold therapy, it would be an excellent time to visit your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes pain in the shoulder blade?

Some possible causes of pain in shoulder blades are 1) Muscle Strain - Overusing your upper body and arm muscle can cause muscle strain. 2) Poor Posture - Bad posture can bring structural changes in the spine 3) Bone & Joint. Arthritis may cause pain in areas like the chest, shoulder, and spine.

How do you relieve pain in your shoulder blades?

Things you can do to relieve shoulder blade pain

1) Exercise can help in instant pain relief.

2) Massage therapy 

3) Heat and cold therapy

4) Taking medical help

When should I see a doctor about shoulder blade pain?

You should seek medical help if

1) In case of Intense Pain

2) Visible deformation

3) Pain remains even after taking rest or doing exercises.

How long does it take for shoulder blade pain to go away?

This kind of pain is most likely temporary and goes after proper rest. It can take around 2-weeks to ease your pain, but sometimes it takes around 6-month to recover fully.

Can pain in the left shoulder be heart-related?

Left shoulder pain can indicate Angina. Angina is a condition in which your heart does not get enough oxygen.

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