Have you suffered from sharp shoulder blade pain?
And no matter what all you did it does not go away. All the normal tasks feel impossible to complete this pain.You may have no idea how you hurt your blade, but you need to fix it as soon as possible.
Discover the underlying causes of shoulder blade plain and how can you get rid of with help of exercises and home remedies.
The pain is generally felt on the back side of the chest and the upper abdominal area. The shoulder blades are located in the upper back area where the rib cages connect to the spine.
The pain can be constant with different intensities. Shoulder blade pain is uncomfortable and you should take measures to overcome it as soon as possible.
Where Will You Exactly Feel The Shoulder Blade Pain?
The shoulder blades are medically called scapulae. They resemble triangular shape bones on the upper back that sticks out and easy to be seen when you stretch your elbow towards your back. These blades function to support pivotal movements of the shoulder.
You will feel dull, aching, sore, or sharp high-intensity pain in the upper part of the back between the shoulder blades.
The shoulder blade connects the upper arm bone to the collarbone and has muscles attached to it. The muscles move along with the shoulder joint to rotate and move the shoulder.
As the shoulder can move in many ways so, it’s easy to injure and cause pain in the shoulder blades. The pain can occur due to multiple reasons that affect the shoulder blade or the nearby area.
Causes Of Shoulder Blade Pain
There can be many potential causes of the shoulder blade pain. Sometimes, you can easily figure the cause of the pain and at times it’s impossible to figure out the cause without a doctor’s consultation.
A few examples that can cause shoulder blade pain and are obvious to be known are as follows:
- A trauma from a fall, accident, or hit.
- Uncomfortable sleeping position.
- Strain from a lifting a heavy thing.
- Exercise or other strenuous activities.
Nevertheless, there are some conditions that might cause pain and are very difficult to determine. These conditions that cause pain are called referred pain.
It is the pain that you feel in the shoulder blade but due to a problem in some other part of the body.
The causes of referred shoulder blade pain are as follows:
1. Bone And Joint Problems
There are many bone and joint issues that can cause shoulder blade pain. In some cases, an accident can cause a fracture which might be the reason for shoulder blade pain.
Nevertheless, with age, you might suffer from shoulder blade pain due to many degenerative conditions. Arthritis, Scoliosis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and spinal stenosis are few degenerative conditions that can cause this pain.
More off, a few types of cancer like breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer can also cause shoulder pain.
2. Musculoskeletal Causes
Musculoskeletal issues can cause shoulder blade pain. Overusing the musculoskeletal muscles, bad posture, and rotator cuff issues arising from various accidents come in this category. They arise due to pain in the linked muscles surrounding the shoulder and arms.
3. Cardiac Causes
This is the most serious cause of shoulder blade pain. An issue with the heart can cause shoulder blade pain. Experts suggest if you have a localized pain in the left shoulder, it might be a sign of heart attack, especially in women.
A few other heart conditions that may cause shoulder blade pain include a wear tear of the aorta and an inflammation in the lining of the heart.
4. Pulmonary Causes
A few of the lung abnormalities can cause pain in the shoulder blades too.
A few examples of such causes are cancer growing in the upper part of the lungs, clots in the lungs, or collapsed lungs. Progression of pulmonary issues often causes shoulder blade pain.
5. Abdominal Causes
There are a few conditions that occur in the abdomen that may cause shoulder blade pain. An abdominal surgery, nerve pain, peptic ulcers, liver diseases, and pancreatitis can cause shoulder blade pain.
6. Back Issues
Muscles pain at the back, slipped disc in the back, or an inflammation of the back muscles can also result in shoulder blade pain as the pain radiated from back to the upper portion.
7. Acid Reflux
This is one of the unpredictable cause of shoulder blade pain. The stomach acid that travels upward from the stomach can cause the pain in and around the shoulder blades.
8. Chest Wall Related Causes
Shingles, an infection caused by a virus that causes chickenpox can cause shoulder blade pain. The infection causes a rash initially and is often preceded by a pain in the shoulder blade after few days.
Symptoms Of Shoulder Blade Pain
The symptoms of shoulder blade pain are not many. It’s just a pain in the back of the shoulders just near to the upper back. It can be sharp, sore, or tingling depending on the cause.
Generally, the pain if occurred due to injury lasts for few weeks. However, the referred causes of pain last till the cause is treated.
In serious cases, the symptoms of shoulder blade pain may show serious signs of fever, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, etc. However, it occurs rarely only with few individuals.
Home Remedies For Shoulder Blade Pain
There are multiple ways to relieve this problem. In some cases, the pain can seem unbearable and you wish to take painkillers, but soon you will realize the painkillers just mask the pain instead of curing it.
So, it’s always better to opt for some shoulder blade pain relief methods at home. There are some very good exercises and stretches that can provide you with surprising results.
In addition to this, there are few alternative methods that you can do at home to ease the pain.
1. Changing Sleep Posture
Changing your sleep position reduces the strain on your back and might help you to ease the level of pain you experience. When sleeping opt for support pillows and good quality mattress meant for back pains to get optimum relief.
2. Release The Pressure On The Blades
Prefer massaging the area of pain between your shoulder blades. This will ease the tension going through the back muscle. You can use a massage ball, stress ball, or any other squishy ball to do the same at home.
How To Do This?
- For the remedy, lie down on your back on a hard surface. Place the massage ball in the area of pain between the shoulder blades.
- Apply as much weight as you can over the ball. Move your arm up and down in between the hollow area of the shoulder blades.
- Try targetting those painful areas to release the pressure from the muscles.
- The tighter the muscles are more relief you will get. Continue pressurizing the ball for good five minutes.
- Do it daily until you get optimum relief.
3. Hot Water Treatment
Hot water compress can heal the inflammation and swelling of the muscles in and around the shoulder. Fill a hot water bag and keep it on the shoulder while lying down comfortably.
How To Use?
- Keep it for good 10 minutes to relax the shoulder blade.
- You can carry it multiple times a day to get optimum relief from symptoms.
- Be careful, the water shouldn’t be too hot otherwise you will end up burning your skin.
4. Epsom Salt Bath
It has magnesium sulfate which has many therapeutic benefits. It can help reduce your shoulder pain significantly. Epsom salt has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the swelling of your shoulder muscles and joints. Not only this, it can improve your blood circulation and release the stress on the shoulder muscles.
How To Use?
- For the remedy, fill a bathtub with lukewarm water. Add 3 cups of Epsom salt in it.
- Stir it thoroughly so that the salt dissolves in water.
- Soak yourself in the water for good 20-25 minutes.
- Do this daily before going to bed to get a sound quality sleep.
Massaging is a good way of relaxing the stressed and sore shoulder muscles and joints. A gentle massage will relieve your shoulder tension and give you optimum relief. More off, it will also increase the blood circulation and thereby reduces the stiffness too.
How To Do It?
- For the remedy, you can use olive, coconut, mustard, sesame, or any other oil.
- Warm the oil and apply it on your entire shoulder.
- Slowly squeeze the shoulder muscles and put pressure to relieve the pain.
- This will also increase the blood flow.
- Massage slowly and gently in circular motions on the affected area for good 15 minutes.
- Follow it morning and evening until you get optimum relief.
There are a few exercises that you can do at home to release shoulder blade pain.
7. Trigger Point release Exercise
Shoulder blade pain can occur due to muscle spasms. Generally, it put pressure on few trigger points that have to be released for relief. You have to perform this exercise using a tennis ball.
How To Do This?
- Lie down on the floor straight with your back facing the floor. Place a tennis ball under your shoulder blade.
- Bend your knees and adjust yourself well. Your position should be as such that the ball presses the painful areas.
- You will feel a sharp pain or burning sensation when pressing and it’s normal.
- Remain in the same position until your pain subsides. Do it daily for optimum relief.
8. Chest Stretch
Sometimes when you sit in a slouched posture the muscles in your chest becomes tight causing a pain in your shoulder blades. Stretching these muscles several times a day can relieve your pain.
For the stretch stand in an open doorway with your feet stretched to maintain the balance.
How To Do It?
- Keep your forearm against both sides of the doorway.
- Your elbows should be at shoulder height.
- Slowly bend yourself forward until you feel a stretch in your chest.
- Be careful don’t stretch the pain areas.
- Remain in the position for 45 seconds.
- Repeat the same for five times to get an optimum relief.
9. Shoulder Blade Stretch
Stretching your shoulder blades will help you release the tension in the painful areas. It’s an effective stretch that works instantly for shoulder blade pain.
How To Do It?
- For the stretch, place your right elbow on top of left elbow with your hands towards your face.
- Now take your left hand and interlace it around the right hand.
- Stay in the pose for good 30 seconds.
- Repeat it on the other side. Perform it 3-5 times daily to get optimum relief.
10. Cow Face Arms
This is an efficient stretch to squeeze ad release the shoulder blade muscles.
How To Do It?
- For the stretch sit cross-legged, or in a kneeling position.
- Inhale and lift your right arm alongside your ear.
- Exhale, bend your right elbow and place your right hand between your shoulder blades. Your right palm should be flat near your shoulder blade.
- Next, sweep your left hand from behind. Try to catch your right hand from behind with your left hand. Be cautious don’t force yourself too much. Stay in the same position with your abs in and face forward. Remain in the position for around 5 breaths.
- Release leave your hand and come back from where you started. Do this daily for good 5 times to get good results.
Prevention Of Shoulder Blade Pain
You should take preventative measures if you suffer from slight or negligible shoulder blade pain.
The following measures can help you prevent your shoulder blade pain:
a) Maintain good posture. Whenever standing or sitting maintain a straight posture, avoid slouching your shoulders down. If it’s inevitable for you to sit and work the whole day, you can opt for an ergonomic chair or special sitting pillows to keep your posture straight at all times.
b) Don’t lift a heavyweight or perform strenuous activities. Heavy lifting can lead to injuries which would trigger the pain between your shoulder blades. If you have to lift the weight, always bend your knees and try not to put too much pressure on your back.
c) Don’t sit for very long hours. After every one hour, get up stretch and frequently for few minutes. This will help your muscles loosen and relax.
d) Opt for healthy habits. A healthy lifestyle is always good to keep you energetic and help you manage any kind of pain, discomfort or disease. Eat wholesome foods, take eight hours of sleep, and exercise at least three days a week.
When To See A Doctor?
When you can relate your pain to a strenuous activity, due to a fall, or due to some less harmful accident than the shoulder blade pain can go off and doctor’s consultation is not that necessary.
Nevertheless, if your pain hinders your daily activities and is unexplainable and unbearable you should see a doctor.
However, if you are a woman and you have a pain in your left shoulder blade, you should seek a doctor’s help as it may be a sign of a heart attack.
In addition to this, the signs or symptoms that need an immediate doctor’s attention are chest pain, rapid heartbeat, slurred speech, lightheadedness, pain or swelling in legs, sudden fever, loss of consciousness, excessive sweating, and coughing up blood. All these signs require immediate action.
For bearable simple pain, it is likely that you will recover in a week without any medical help. In most cases, shoulder blade pain takes three to six days for a full recovery and relief from symptoms.
However, if your pain is due to an underlying cause, the length of the treatment and the recovery period might vary greatly. If you suffer from prolonged shoulder blade pain, it is necessary to address the cause and get it treated.