Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Can Shoulder Blade Pain Cause Arm Pain

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Armpit Anatomy And Structure

Before discussing the possible reasons for armpit torment and what your specialist may prescribe to lighten it, its useful to think about the life structures of the underarm and what structures live there.

Structures and tissues found in the armpit include:

  • Muscles towards the back of the axilla are the teres major and latissimus dorsi muscles the pectoralis significant enters this area from the chest the coracobrachialis runs midway through the armpit and the arm muscles including the deltoid long leader of the triceps and biceps are adjacent
  • Blood vessels both veins and supply routes travel through this area
  • Nerves the brachial plexus lies simply over the armpit and the middle ulnar spiral and musculocutaneous nerve all movement through this area
  • Sweat organs there are many perspiration organs in the armpit which are in charge of the very natural underarm scent and common diseases in this district
  • Lymph hubs there are approximately 20 to 40 axillary lymph hubs in every armpit these lymph hubs thus get waste from lymph vessels in the arm bosom and part of the neck chest and upper stomach area

If You Have To Go To The Doctor

If you talk with your doctor about right shoulder and arm pain, they may recommend the following, depending on the severity of your condition.

  • Immobilization: In some cases, limiting the movement of your shoulder or arm may help it heal. This is often achieved using a sling, brace, or cast. Your doctor will let you know when it can be removed.
  • Corticosteroid injections: This is a type of medication that your doctor can inject into the affected area to help reduce inflammation.
  • Prescription medications: Prescription pain medications may be given for severe pain. Oral corticosteroids can help ease inflammation. If you have RA, your doctor will likely prescribe a disease-modifying drug.
  • Physical therapy: Your doctor may give you a list of exercises to do that can help you regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion. In some cases, they may recommend that you work with a physical therapist.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be recommended when other treatments havent been effective or when damage is severe. The specific procedure thats used can depend on whats causing your condition.

Bone And Joint Issues

There are several potential bone or joint problems that can cause shoulder blade pain.

As the shoulder blade is a bone, it is possible for a person to experience a fracture. This is an unlikely occurrence in most cases, as it requires a fall, an accident, or a similar direct injury to the shoulder blade.

As a person ages, degenerative conditions may cause shoulder blade pain. Some of these conditions include:

More specifically, a type of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis is most common among people aged 2040. It is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, but it can cause pain and inflammation to surrounding areas.

Certain cancers may also cause pain in the shoulders and shoulder blades. The most common cancers that may cause shoulder blade pain include lung cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

Why Do I Have Pain In My Neck And Shoulder Radiating Down My Arm

Neck pain and shoulder pain are normal parts of life. Its not unusual to have a sore neck or shoulder after a long day of physical work or sports activities. However, when you have pain in the neck and shoulder radiating down your arm, you might understandably be concerned.

Pain in your neck and shoulder radiating down the arm can be related to different conditions, so its best to let a health care professional perform an examination to achieve a diagnosis. Usually, this type of pain is related to cervical radiculopathy, better known as a pinched nerve.

Most Common Reasons You Cannot Lift Your Shoulder

Shoulder Pain

Here are the most common reasons why you may not be able to move your arm.  While there can be neurological reasons, like Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, most of you cannot move the arm or shoulder because of pain.  The most common causes of shoulder pain and loss of motion are: 

  • rotator cuff tendonitis
  • calcific tendonitis
  • adhesive capsulitis or a frozen shoulder

The cause of your shoulder pain and the reason why it hurts will vary by age.  Some problems are more common in different age groups.  In younger athletes, tendonitis, or inflammation of the rotator cuff is more common. 

In middle age, rotator cuff tendinosis, calcific tendinitis, AC Joint arthritis, and a frozen shoulder are more common causes of pain. 

Lets run through each of these individually.  

What Causes Shoulder Blade Pain

There could be many potential causes which can lead to shoulder blade pain. Due to wide range of motion of this area, it can be affected because of various issues. Some common cause of shoulder blade pain are-

1.Strain from lifting heavy object, weightlifting, etc.

2.Trauma from an accident, fall or hit

3.Sleeping in a odd position or strain while sleeping

Apart from these general conditions shoulder blade pain can also be due to serious health issues in another part of the body. This causes pain in shoulder blades and can result in health complications. Some potential issues related to this condition are-

Pancoast Tumor Risk Factors

Pancoast tumors and other lung cancers share many of the same risk factorsa characteristic or behavior that may increase the likelihood of developing a certain condition. Established risk factors for Pancoast tumors include:

  • Smoking tobacco
  • Prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke, asbestos or other industrial substances, such as nickel and chromium
  • Being male
  • Being between the ages of 50 and 60

Pancoast tumors can affect anyone, including individuals who do not have any known risk factors for this cancer. Still, people with one or more risk factors should be particularly mindful to seek care for symptoms and receive appropriate treatment.

Calcific Tendonitis And Calcific Periarthritis

Sometimes pain, swelling and difficulty moving your shoulder is caused by calcium crystals that form insidea tendon. Tendons are the strong cords that attach muscles to bones.  

We all need the mineral calcium in the body, as it helps make bones and teeth strong. But sometimes, if you have too much of it in the body, sharp, tiny, crystals can form in the wrong places.  

If they form in tendons, this is called calcific tendonitis.  

This can happen at various places around the body, including the shoulder.  

Calcium crystals can then shed from a tendon and cause pain and swelling around a joint. This is called calcific periarthritis.  

Steroid injections often work well to reduce swelling. Butsometimes the calcium deposits mayneed to be removed by keyhole surgery. 

    How Is It Diagnosed

    As with any potential medical issue you are facing, you should always seek the advice of a qualified medical professional.  If a pinched nerve causes your shoulder pain, you will need a thorough physical examination of your neck and shoulder to diagnose the issue.

    A spine specialist can usually identify the issue by assessing your symptoms and a thorough physical exam.  The doctor can also examine your reflexes.  As part of the process, it is usual practice for your doctor to ask you to perform specific movements designed to cause you discomfort.  Allowing your doctor to visibly see what is causing you pain will lead to a quicker and more accurate diagnosis.

    Relieving The Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade

    Pain under your shoulder blade can be a sharp or burning pain near the spine, or more of a deep aching sensation that spreads across the shoulder or upper back. When shoulder blade pain persists, it can affect quality of life and limit arm and back movements. Here are 5 ideas that may help ease your pain.

    If pain underneath the shoulder blade develops without any signs of an emergency, most people can safely try to alleviate the pain on their own using self-care treatments. ReadEarly Treatments for Upper Back Pain

    Ways To Relieve Pain From A Shoulder Problem

  • Resting from activities that aggravate pain.
  • Icing the shoulder, especially at night.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Cortisone injections to reduce inflammation in the shoulder.
  • If these measures fail to bring relief, you may need an MRI of your shoulder. If that shows a torn rotator cuff, then shoulder surgery may be necessary, says Dr. Ricchetti. If the physical exam and imaging indicate arthritis or a nerve-related pain in your neck, he recommends referral to a spine specialist. Spine specialists will conduct a thorough neurological examination, and do imaging and other tests. They will also begin with conservative care.

    Why Is This Better Than Conventional Diagnosis

    This live approach to diagnosis means that causes of arm & shoulder pain can be defined and ultimately confirmed so that misleading diagnoses caused by strange nerve links in the neck can be avoided. Subsequent endoscopic examination, with the patient awake, then leads the surgeon to the precise source of pain at the specified intervertebral level. This is in contrast to conventional diagnostic techniques that rely on pre-operative guesstimation based upon X-rays, MRI scans and CAT scans – and often result in the overkill of multiple level surgery performed to attempt a treatment catch all.

    Acute Shoulder Pain Or Arm Pain Treatment

    Shoulder pain. Causes, symptoms, treatment Shoulder pain

    • Simple treatments like hot or cold packs, physical activity, exercise and physical therapy.

    • Pain medications like anti-inflammatories and anti-spasm medications to provide pain relief.

    If pain is long lasting , debilitating and has not been responding to treatments an assessment should be made by a pain management specialist, who can assess and treat most types of chronic pain.


    Partial Rotator Cuff Tears

    As the rotator cuff continues to age or degenerates, a portion of the rotator cuff might separate from the bone that it is normally attached to.  This is usually part of the natural progression of tendinosis. 

    If enough of the rotator cuff starts to separate then we have a small cleft or defect in the rotator cuff attachment. We call that a partial tear. Partial tears are not large enough to cause weakness of the shoulder.  However, if you have a painful partial tear, you can have pain on top or on the side of the shoulder. In addition, you may find it very painful when trying to lift the arm overhead.

    Some partial tears hurt, while others do not. Determining if your partial tear is painful is usually possible with a physical exam.  Most people with partial tears of the rotator cuff are going to respond to physical therapy.  If physical therapy and other non-surgical treatments do not improve your pain, then surgery to place a unique biological patch has a high likelihood of alleviating your night pain and pain with lifting your arm. See this post for more information about the patch and how it works.  

    Test 1: Neck Stretching

    This test will determine whether relieving tension on the nerve reduces or relieves your symptoms.

    First, tilt your head to the side that does not cause discomfort.  Hold your head in this position for a minute or two, stretching the neck muscle with your other arm.

    Does this relieve your symptoms, including a reduced sense of numbing or warming sensation in the arm?  If yes, move on to test 2.

    What Causes A Pinched Nerve

    A pinched nerve refers to a nerve in your neck that has become irritated due to an increase of pressure on it. Muscle tension, herniated discs and bone spurs are just a few examples of conditions that can pinch the nerve in your neck. 

    When this affects a nerve ending that extends into your shoulder, you may feel pain, tingling and weakness that radiates through the shoulder and down into your arm. 

    Moffitt Cancer Centers Approach To Pancoast Tumors

    The multispecialty team in Moffitt Cancer Centers Thoracic Oncology Program leverages leading-edge technologies and focused expertise to efficiently identify Pancoast tumors and collaborates to create refined treatment plans. As a high-volume cancer center with specialists who focus solely on lung cancers, our team routinely treats Pancoast tumors and spearheads an ambitious clinical trial program to facilitate treatment breakthroughs. A testament to our commitment to research, Moffitt is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centerthe only such cancer center based in Florida.

    If youve been experiencing possible symptoms of a Pancoast tumor, Moffitt can work with your primary care provider to help you find answers and specialized lung care. Contact us at 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form to consult with a Moffitt physician.

    Pain In One Side Of The Neck

    Stretching may help to ease shoulder blade pain.

    Isolated pain in the right or left side of the neck is most commonly the result of muscle strain or injury.

    The following activities could contribute to pain in one side of the neck:

    • Bad posture. Poor posture can strain the muscles in and around the neck and may also lead to an uneven spreading of weight, which could cause pain on one particular side.
    • Poor sleeping position. Sleeping in an awkward position can cause neck pain, and this is more likely for people who sleep on their stomach. Using too many pillows or an unsupportive mattress can also lead to problems.
    • Whiplash. Pain from neck sprains are the result of ligament or muscle damage. While whiplash is most commonly associated with being in a vehicle accident, other common causes include doing vigorous sporting activity and riding a rollercoaster.

    Ways To Relieve Pain From A Neck Problem

  • Physical therapy or yoga to increase range of motion and strength.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications and /or muscle relaxants.
  • Ice, heat and massage therapy.
  • Injection of cortisone to reduce inflammation or local anesthetics to relieve pain.
  • Whether you have chronic pain in your shoulder, your neck or both, dont wait to see an expert. Having a neck or shoulder specialist evaluate your complaints will determine where the main problem is and will get you started on the correct treatment, says Dr. Ricchetti.

    Arm Pain & Shoulder Pain

    Arm and shoulder pain and injuries are common.

    Problems with the shoulder and arm can affect all aspects of life from getting dressed to driving a car and even working productively.

    There are a few reasons for shoulders being prone to injury and pain; one reason is because the shoulder joint can move around in so many ways and is the most mobile of all the joints. Another reason is because the actual shoulder joint has a very small surface contact area, which means that the joint is unstable and open to injury. This explains why the shoulder muscles are so very important in securing and stabilising the shoulder joint.

    Shoulder pain and arm pain can often be related to problems in the neck or even back. Its important that whoever assesses the pain makes sure that the pain is not being caused by neck problems.

    Most of the time more than one cause for the pain may occur at the same time, which can then make assessing and managing shoulder pain and arm pain more complex.

    Should Blade Pain Symptoms

    Shoulder Pain: Causes, Treatment, and When to See a Doctor

    If you have shoulder blade pain that persists beyond a few days it is important to make an appointment to see your doctoreven if you have participated in activities that you suspect has caused your pain. Which shoulder blade is affected is an important question, as some conditions are more likely to affect the left shoulder blade, and others more likely to affect the right.

    If your pain is severe or is accompanied by symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, or if you simply have a sense that something serious is wrong, call 911 or your doctor immediately.

    You Have A Muscle Knot Or A Tense Muscle

    The most frequent reason for shoulder blade pain is a tense muscle or a muscle knot. The area around the muscle will feel tender to touch or tight. A way of thinking about it is imagining you pull on a loose thread in a sweater. This will create a hard knot in the fabric.

    Why do the muscles become tense? It can come from doing too much, too soon, which is often the case in sports or exercise. For example, repetitive throwing may result in a muscle knot or tender spot under the shoulder blade. They may also develop as the result of pain in the neck and the shoulder.

    These knots limit your functionality and impact your day-to-day life. You may find it hard to reach for an object on a high shelf or have difficulties twisting your torso.

    Luckily, muscle knots are often easily treated with a massage technique known as myofascial release. Myofascial release is where moderate pressure is applied to the spot to release the stuck tissues. A popular example of this technique is foam rolling .

    Exercises For Shoulder Blade Pain

    So, what exercises should you be doing? We outline the best ones to start with below. Make sure you go slow. If any pain occurs, back off and adjust. Try again and if it happens again, avoid the pain-causing exercise for now.

  • Trapezius stretch

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    The trapezius muscle makes up the upper back and shoulders. Its a common area for individuals to experience tightness, especially if the cause is posture-related. By stretching out this muscle, you can also relieve tension or pain under the shoulder blades.


  • Sit on a chair with your back straight.
  • Place one hand over your head on the back of your neck so that your forehead is resting on your forearm.
  • You should use the other hand to fixate your shoulder by holding onto the edge of the chair.
  • Turn your head towards the same side as the raised arm.
  • Pull the head diagonally forward to the side and feel it stretching down towards the shoulder blade.
  • It should not hurt in the direction that you bend your head.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then repeat the stretch with your head bent to the opposite side.
  • Posterior shoulder capsule stretch
  • The Pectoralis Major And Pectoralis Minor:

    The pec major and pec minor lie on the front of the shoulder.  The pec minor attaches to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rib and runs to the front of the humerus.  The pec major has two origins – the sternum and the clavicle, and runs laterally towards the humerus.   Both assist in scapular/shoulder motion, and as many of us sit and do desk work all day, they can get tight relatively easily .

    Typical referral pattern

    If your hand and elbow pain seems to be ongoing and not improved by stretching of the hands, wrists and elbow – try doing some postural work and give your shoulders some TLC! For specific ideas – check out the flexibility blog posts and the shoulder articles already up on the site!

    If those don’t help – consider reaching out to your favorite physical therapist for an evaluation and some recommendations tailored to your specific needs.

    Left Shoulder Pain And Chest Pain

    Simultaneous pain in the left shoulder and chest may be due to some serious underlying diseases. It may be due to injuries and inflammation. Following are some of the main causes;

  • Bursitis
  • Rotator cuff tear, and
  • Fracture
  • The pain may start in the chest and may radiate to the shoulder blade. However, in some cases, the originating place is the shoulder.

    When To Be Concerned About Shoulder Pain

    It can take some time for shoulder pain to settle, perhaps weeks or months. In general, if your shoulder pain has not begun to settle in a week or two, or if it worsens over time, then it may be worthwhile seeing an experienced doctor or health practitioner. 

    If you find that you need stronger medication to manage your shoulder pain, discuss this with your doctor. You may need a referral to a specialist.

    Note: Shoulder pain or discomfort around the front of one or both of the shoulders can be a sign of a heart attack. It is often described as an ache, heaviness or pressure sensation spreading from the chest to the shoulders. This requires immediate medical attention. Call 000 immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms.

    Other Pancoast Tumor Symptoms

    As a Pancoast tumor continues to spread, so can the pain. Patients with an advanced Pancoast tumor may feel intense, constant or radiating pain in their arms, around their chest wall, between their shoulder blades or traveling into their upper back. Patients whose tumor has spread into the scalene muscles may also feel pain in their armpit.

    In addition to disruptive pain in various areas of the upper body, a Pancoast tumor may cause the following symptoms to develop:

    • Swelling in the upper arm
    • Chest tightness
    • Weakness or loss of coordination in the hand muscles
    • Numbness or tingling sensations in the hand
    • Loss of muscle tissue in the arm or hand
    • Fatigue
    • Unexplained weight loss

    If a Pancoast tumor compresses or irritates a nerve in the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates many of the bodys involuntary actions, a patient may experience flushing and/or excessive facial sweating. Physicians occasionally refer to these complications as Pancoast syndrome. These symptoms typically only affect one side of the facethe same side where the tumor is causing the compressionand can develop long before cancerous cells invade nearby tissues.

    Some patients also experience a tingling or prickly feeling in their hands. This symptom, sometimes referred to as paresthesias, is also a result of nerve compression. In advanced cases, this compression can lead to permanent sensation loss.

    Can Shoulder Blade Pain Be A Symptom Of Breast Cancer

    Pain is not a common symptom of breast cancer. However, breast cancer that has metastasized can sometimes cause shoulder blade pain.

    One of the most common locations for breast cancer metastasis is in the bones. Pain can be related to the cancer itself or fractures that happen when bones weaken.

    Bladder, prostate, thyroid, uterus, lung, and kidney cancers can also spread to your bones. Lung and kidney cancers are also known to spread to the shoulder joint and shoulder blade.

    It is also possible that pain near your right shoulder could be an indication that breast cancer has spread to your liver, because some of the nerve networks around the liver originate from the same nerves that attach near your right shoulder blade.

    If youve had breast cancer in the past, and youre now experiencing shoulder pain, its a good idea to see a doctor about it as soon as possible. If it is a cancer relapse, treatment may help slow the cancers growth, relieve your symptoms, and protect your bones.

    Yes. If youve had chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, you may have pain around your shoulder blade because of those treatments.

    Trigger Points For Rhomboid Muscle Pain

    Q and A On Causes of Shoulder Pain: 13 Major Medical ...

    A trigger point is a part of the muscle where there is a significant amount of increased tension.

    Having trigger points in certain muscles can refer pain between the shoulder blades.

    What to do:

    The following postural distortions will specifically influence the shoulder blade region:

    a)Rounded shoulders

    Rounded Shoulders places the shoulder blades in a position where the Rhomboids will constantly be active to counteract the forward pull of the shoulder.

    Check out this post to fix your Rounded shoulders!

    b)Scapula Winging

    Check out this post to fix Scapula Winging.

    c)Uneven shoulders

    Check out this post to fix your Uneven shoulders.

    d)Thoracic kyphosis

    A hunched upper back can cause the shoulder blades to slouch forwards.

    Check out this post to fix your Hunched back.

    e)Twisted spine

    If your spine is twisted to one side, it can force one of the shoulders to go too far forwards.

    This can result in over activity of the shoulder blade muscles in the attempt to counter-rotate the twist in the spine.

    Check out this post to fix your Twisted spine.

    When To See A Doctor

    Immediate medical attention should be sought for unexplained pain in the left shoulder blade accompanied by shortness of breath or chest pain.

    In many cases, a person can trace shoulder blade pain back to a seemingly harmless incident, such as a recent fall or an occasion when they lifted too much weight.

    It may be less evident to a person who slept badly, but warning signs include sleeping on one side for too long or having recently switched mattresses.

    People who are unable to explain a pain in their shoulder blade should see their doctor.

    Women should be particularly wary of any pain in the left shoulder blade as it could be a sign of a heart attack, and they should seek out immediate attention from a doctor.

    A person may also wish to see a doctor in the case of a strain as the doctor may be able to recommend additional treatment.

    Symptoms that signal a need for immediate attention include:

    • chest pain

    Other means of prevention include:

    • eating a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients
    • getting moderate exercise

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