This pain may limit arm movements and interfere with daily activities and can range from being sharp or burning
By Dr. Shadman Pandit P.T
The scapula, or shoulder blade, is a large triangular-shaped bone that lies in the upper back. The bone is surrounded and supported by a complex of muscles that work together to help you move your arm.
This pain may limit arm movements and interfere with daily activities and can range from being sharp or burning, such as between the spine and shoulder blade, to tender or achy across the shoulder or upper back. Upper back pain is classified as pain or discomfort in the area between your shoulder blades. It may be constant, or you may only notice it with activity.
Common characteristics of shoulder blade pain:
Shoulder blade can likely present with the following symptoms.
- Dull and aching pain of the shoulder blade
- Difficulty using affected arm(s)
- Feeling of a pulled muscle
- Pain in nearby muscle groups: Shoulder or back pain, for example.
- Instability of the shoulder
What causes Shoulder blade pain?
Shoulder blade pain doesn’t always have an obvious cause. The following details may help you better understand your symptoms :
- Poor posture: Prolonged sitting with poor posture may cause your spine to undergo structural changes that eventually cause pain underneath the shoulder blade. Hunching your back, tilting your head down, or sitting to one side while working behind a desk or reading from a cell phone can weaken your muscles and place pressure on spinal discs, muscles, and ligaments. This routine imbalance can contribute to upper back pain.
Ø Improper lifting technique: Lifting weight above your head without proper technique can leave your upper back and shoulders susceptible to injury. If you lift an object that is too heavy, or if the object is held away from the body with the spine misaligned, you can place undue pressure on your upper back. Lifting objects overhead that are too heavy can strain muscles or sprain ligaments, or potentially injure the shoulder joint or spine, which could refer to pain under or near the shoulder blade.
Ø Overuse: Painting a ceiling, moving furniture are examples of activities that can put your upper back and shoulders through more work than they’re used to doing. Overuse can lead to muscle strains and ligament sprains, which can cause pain in the upper back, such as between your shoulder blade and spine. Another example is scapulothoracic bursitis, also called snapping scapula syndrome, in which the bursa between the shoulder blade (scapula) and thoracic spine becomes inflamed and painful from overuse or injury.
Ø Cervical herniated disc: A herniated disc in the cervical spine (neck) can cause pain and may inflame a nearby nerve root that radiates pain down into the shoulder, arm, and/or hand. A disc herniation in the lower cervical spine is more likely to radiate pain into or near the shoulder blade area.
Ø Dislocated rib: While less common, a rib may pop out of place or become misaligned after repetitive strain or reaching for an item overhead. Sharp pain near your shoulder blade can result from this activity, and it can sometimes make it difficult to take a deep breath.
Ø Heart condition: Some heart conditions can present as pain in the shoulder blade region. A heart attack may also present as pain felt in the upper back and/or shoulder.
Ø Musculoskeletal causes: Shoulder blade pain may be due to musculoskeletal causes:
- Muscle strain: The most common cause of shoulder blade pain are muscle strains from intense workouts, heavy lifting, or even sleeping in an uncomfortable position.
- Snapping scapula syndrome: If your discomfort is accompanied by cracking and popping noises, this muscular condition could be the cause.
Shoulder blade pain treatment:
Most cases of shoulder blade pain are treatable. A little bit of time and rest should do the trick. Tips to have yourself feeling better quicker.
- Exercise and stretching: Strengthening your back could help alleviate pain. Try pushups, sit-ups, and pullups. Remember to start slow if you don’t exercise regularly. Light stretches can also help loosen tense muscles.
- Therapy: Both massage and physiotherapy can help with shoulder blade pain that comes and goes, especially if due to an injury or compressed nerve.
- Medication: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can temporarily relieve shoulder blade pain.
- Restoring good posture: As you perform your everyday activities, try to stand and sit properly. To do this, pull your shoulder blades back together, and bend your elbows down and back as if you are trying to put them in your back pockets.
- Balancing your exercise routine: If you are in a regular exercise program, make sure your upper body strength sessions are balanced. Your program should also include stretching exercises for your front shoulder muscles and for shoulder joint rotation.
- Heat therapy: Soaking in a hot bath or using a heating pad may help alleviate tight shoulder muscles.
Any back or shoulder pain that lingers a few weeks or interferes with daily activities should be evaluated by a doctor. If your pain is severe or accompanied by symptoms such as headache, tingling, weakness, or nausea seek immediate medical attention. You can directly consult a Physiotherapist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
(Dr. Shadman Pandit P.T, MPT(Neuro), MPT(Cardio) and Consultant Physiotherapist can be reached at [email protected] , Mobile No. 9149965711)