7 Possible Causes for Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade

How often have you felt pain creeping under your shoulder blade? Especially since work from home became a new norm. Working from almost any room, in a variety of postures has led to a number of people to suffer from pain in the upper back, particularly pain under shoulder blade. Juggling work at home along with household chores also makes us more likely to ignore the right postures to work in.

While shoulder blade pain or pain under shoulder blade may often be due to straining the muscles in the upper back, there may be a number of other causes leading to back pain under shoulder blade. To get better relief from pain, it is always a good idea to find out what has been causing the pain under your shoulder blade. Here are some of those reasons:

What causes pain under shoulder blade?

Musculoskeletal causes

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

Muscle strain

Muscle strain at the upper back can happen due to lifting heavy weights or from overuse injuries from overdoing any activity outside of your routine. The muscle fibres 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 is one that overloads the spine and puts unequal stress over the structures around the spine. Many times, you may have to adopt continuous postures while working. You may be working at your desk as an IT professional, or bending continuously while doing your chores. A poor posture can overload the muscles of the upper back and cause pain under the shoulder blade.

Fracture

Pain under the shoulder can be caused due to fracture of the shoulder blade. The pain may also extend around the shoulder blade, and makes moving the arm painful. 

Cervical Disc Herniation

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

Trauma

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 also cause pain and inflammation around and under the shoulder pain. 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 or 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 around the shoulder blade. Lung cancers and Pancoast tumors may also be contributing factors to pain under the shoulder blade.

Abdominal and pelvic causes

Causes of pain under the shoulder blade of abdominal and pelvic origin 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 unusual in this area, it is still a possibility. 

Other visceral causes

Among other possible causes of shoulder blade pain, 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 under the shoulder blade

Malignant causes

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

How to relieve pain under the shoulder blade?

Rest

Taking short breaks from postures that cause pain help in reducing the strain over the muscles of the upper back. Sometimes even taking a day off can ease the inflammation of muscles under the shoulder blade.

Correct your posture

Ergonomic changes allow the muscles of the body to work efficiently, without causing any strain. Small ergonomic changes to workplaces and household areas go a long way in reducing postural strain.

Support your back

Using back supports that help you prop yourself up and keep you in the correct posture will further reduce strain in the upper back. Back support not only aligns your spine but also send the right feedback to your brain to reinforce correct posture.

Apply a hot or cold pack

Using a hot or cold pack temporarily reduces any pain or inflammation that occurs due to muscle strain at 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 any tension in the muscles. Performing basic stretches in your routine can also help in preventing 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 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. Learning which postures help in reducing strain over your body will help you to consciously work towards good postures.

Take regular breaks

Taking regular breaks every few hours helps in relieving any strain that may have accumulated in the structures of your body, particularly the postural muscles.

Watch your diet, take supplements

A balanced diet along with the supplements your body requires will keep your body in the best of health. Muscles fatigue easily if you are not adequately hydrated, or if they 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 shoulder blade pain that persists for more than a few weeks or that does not respond to home remedies, exercises, or hot/cold therapy, it would be a good time to give your doctor a visit.

FAQs 

What causes pain in the shoulder blade?

Some of the possible causes of shoulder blade are 1) Muscle Strain - Overuse of muscle of your upper body and arms can cause muscle strain. 2) Poor Posture - Bad posture can bring structural changes in the spine and that might lead to pain underneath the shoulder blade. 3) Bone & Joint - Some of these problems cause pain in the shoulder blade. Arthritis may cause pain in areas like chest, shoulder and spine.

How do you relieve shoulder blade pain?

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?

Most likely, this kind of pain is 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.