Bodybuilding 4 MIN READ 52 VIEWS June 7, 2024

Shoulder Blade Pain: Here’s What You Can Do

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Shoulder Blade Pain

You may feel shoulder blade pain when rotating your arm or trying to lift something with your hands. If it is a minor pain, it usually goes away in a few hours to a couple of days. However, if the pain continues longer or increases in intensity, it requires immediate attention.

As per a study, 16%-26% of people report experiencing shoulder pain annually, while only 1% of them consult with a health practitioner. Although it may seem like a common occurrence, a sudden throbbing pain in the shoulder blade, which could hint at serious health conditions like coronary heart disease. This blog will highlight the symptoms, causes, and home remedies for easing excruciating shoulder blade pain.

What is Shoulder Blade Pain?

Shoulder blade pain happens to the scapula, a triangular flat bone in the upper back, against your rib cage. You can touch and feel your shoulder blade if you bend your arm behind your upper back.

Shoulder blade pain is different from general shoulder pain in the sense that the former is limited to a specific part of the shoulder, i.e., the scapula or shoulder blade.

Scapula pain can affect the movement of your shoulder as it impacts the connective tissues and muscles around it. This can lead to various symptoms, as discussed in the next section.

Symptoms of Shoulder Blade Pain

Having back shoulder blade pain can vary in severity and may increase if you put more strain on the affected areas. This can lead to the aggravation of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling throbbing, sharp, intolerable pain when trying to lift your arm
  • Difficulty moving your arm while holding something firmly in your hands
  • Inability to hold your arm outstretched for a few seconds
  • Feeling soreness in the shoulder blade
  • Unnaturally protruding shoulder blade, like a wing.

What Causes Shoulder Blade Pain?

The causes of shoulder blade pain can be many. Some of the most common ones include:

1. Muscle Damage

If you exert too much strain over your shoulder blades during exercise or games, it can lead to sore muscles and may cause damage to the connective tissues. This can lead to sharp pain initially, which gradually goes away as the muscles recover. 

2. Bone Condition

Conditions such as osteoporosis (porous bones) or osteoarthritis (degeneration of the bone-connecting tissues) are responsible for poor bone health. They can cause bone loss in the scapula and hamper the ball and socket joints of your arm, exaggerating the pain.

Another possible cause could be a shoulder blade fracture, which can make you experience shooting pain. You need personalised nutritional care and therapy to treat bone-related shoulder blade pain.

3. Heart Issues

Some of the common left shoulder blade pain causes also include some heart-related problems such as:

  • If you have recently undergone cardiac surgery, you may experience moderate to severe pain in your shoulder blade pain left side or upper back.
  • You may also feel sharp left shoulder blade pain if you have had aortic dissection, i.e., a tear in the blood vessel of the heart.
  • Pericarditis is the inflammation of the lining of the heart. It can also lead to scapula pain. Although men are at higher risk of pericarditis, it can cause left shoulder blade pain left side woman or man, regardless of gender.
  • Women who have coronary heart disease may experience its symptoms differently than men. They may feel discomfort in the left shoulder blade, as explored by a 2009 study featured by the National Library of Medicine.

Possible Home Treatments 

Whether you are feeling scapula pain left side or right side, you need to fix it soon to carry on with your daily tasks and avoid any health consequences. Here’s what you can do:

1. Try a Cold Compress

You can use a refrigerated gel pack or an ice pack to help numb the shooting shoulder blade pain. Set the pack for about 15-20 minutes, around 5 times per day. Make sure to use a layer of fabric or plastic between the ice and skin, as not doing so can damage skin tissues.

2. Take Medication for Inflammation

Medicines like ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin can help manage the painful inflammation in your rotator cuffs and shoulder blades. 

3. Heat Therapy

You can use a heated pad or water bottle to ease the stiff muscles, tissues, and shoulder joints. It is especially effective for bone-related problems, such as arthritis.

4. Take Rest

Minor scapula pain can be managed if you do not try to aggravate the pain. Giving your shoulder a rest will aid in quicker healing and muscle injury recovery.

When to See a Doctor?

While the above remedies can be helpful, there may come a time when you must seek professional medical attention. You should schedule a doctor’s consultation when:

  • You have tried all sorts of methods for pain relief, but the pain does not subside.
  • The pain increases in intensity.
  • The pain spreads to other parts of the body, such as the neck, arm, chest, or back.
  • There is swelling in the shoulder, along with redness and tenderness.
  • You are not able to lift your hand or hold any object at all.

Conclusion

Shoulder blade pain can be caused by different health reasons, such as muscle or bone injuries or heart-related problems. Temporary relief can be provided by heat and ice therapy, rest, and medications. While general pain can be treated with home remedies, it is best advised to visit your physician if the symptoms persist to avoid health complications.

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