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What Can Cause Pain In Your Left Shoulder Blade

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Pain Between Your Shoulder Blades: Causes

Rhomboid Pain (Shoulder Blade Discomfort)

To differentiate the causes of interscapular pain, one must be familiar with the region’s anatomical structures. These anatomical structures reside near the interscapular region:

  • Cervical and Thoracic spine, including vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs.
  • Scapula or shoulder girdle.
  • Muscles, such as the rhomboids, lower trapezius, middle trapezius, upper trapezius, and the Paraspinal muscles.
  • Spinal and peripheral nerves.
  • Portions of the lungs.
  • A portion of the heart.

While this list of anatomical structures is not exhaustive, it serves as a baseline for possible pain causes between the shoulder blades. One of the most common causes of interscapular pain is muscular pain due to muscle strain, trauma, or posture strain. This can result in interscapular pain and result in combined neck and shoulder pain as well. The severity of muscular pain is typically mild and temporary. A strain of the rhomboids or trapezius muscles can result from repetitive pulling movements, such as pulling a starter on a lawnmower or performing rows at the gym. A muscle strain is typically the result of an excessive load placed on the muscle, causing inflammation and the muscle belly’s tearing.

Nerve Compression Or Damage

A seated, rounded posture can also lead to compression of the cervical spine , leading to pain between the shoulder blades, Louw says.

Louw mentions that another possible cause of shoulder blade pain is thoracic outlet syndrome. This group of conditions results from compression on the blood vessels and nerves in the lower neck and upper chest. It can cause pain and weakness in the shoulder and tingling or pain in the fingers. Theres debate about what exactly causes this syndrome, which can be misdiagnosed because the symptoms look similar to rotator cuff injuries or other conditions.

Physical therapy can help treat the issue by guiding you in strengthening your chest and improving your posture.

Another nerve-related issue that can lead to pain is scapular winging, a condition in which one or more of the shoulder blades sticks out rather than laying flat against the body. But Dr. Baxi notes that its not very common.

Sleeping Posture With Mattresses And Pillows

  • A relatively firm mattress is generally best for proper back support, although individual preference is very important
  • Sleeping on the side or back is usually more comfortable for the back than sleeping on the stomach
  • Use a pillow to provide proper support and alignment for the head and shoulders
  • Consider putting a rolled-up towel under the neck and a pillow under the knees to better support the spine
  • If sleeping on the side, a relatively flat pillow placed between the legs will help keep the spine aligned and straight.

    See Pillow Support and Comfort and Choosing the Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain

It is important to note that an overall cause of bad posture is tense muscles, which will pull the body out of alignment. There are a number of specific exercises that will help stretch and relax the major back muscles. Some people find that meditation or other forms of mental relaxation are effective in helping relax the back muscles. And many people find treatments and activities such as massage therapy, yoga, tai chi or other regular exercise routines, or treatments such as chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, etc. to be helpful with both muscle relaxation and posture awareness and improvement.

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What To Do For Pain Between Shoulder Blades: 8 Treatments

There are numerous ways to treat pain between shoulder blades. These range from inexpensive at-home solutions to invasive treatments that require professional intervention. You should always talk with a doctor before starting any kind of treatment plan.

These are some of the more common treatments for upper back pain and shoulder blade pain that your doctor may recommend, or that you may wish to bring up to your doctor at your next appointment.

Above all, remember to be patient with yourself. Depending on the severity of your pain, it can take weeks or months for you to fully heal. Dealing with pain is tough, so dont push yourself too hard, and ask for help and support when you need it.

Thoracic Vertebral Compression Fractures

Shoulder Blade Pain: Left, Right or Under Scapula ...

Compression fractures are those that happen when the spine squeezes down to a shorter height. They can occur as a result of metastatic cancer or osteoporosis.

These fractures can cause interscapular pain.

Since fractures in this region aren’t as common as those in the cervical or lumbar spine, the diagnosis may be delayed.

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The Pain Gives Under The Left Shoulder Blade

The description of this symptom is a typical characteristic of the radiating pain, the pathological source of which can be located quite far from the place of pain. The pain gives under the left shoulder blade most often with diseases of the stomach and heart. Cardiac zone of the stomach, undergoing inflammatory or erosive process, often manifests itself as pain reflected to the left. For an experienced physician it is not difficult to accurately determine the primary source of pain according to the diagnostic scheme of Zakharyin-Gedd or Gaava-Luvsan. These methods are designed to differentiate the clinical signs of reflected pain according to the specific transmission of impulses along the vegetative path of the nervous system to symptomatic zones.

Things That Can Cause Pain Between Your Shoulder Blades

December 2, 2021 6:06 pm / Category: Wellness

It is very common for a person to experience discomfort between their shoulder blades. You know it weve all been there. Overuse, strains, sleeping awkwardly, and rotator cuff issues all fall into this category. These problems are often related to pain in the muscle groups surrounding the shoulders, including some of the arm muscles. Heres why you may feel pain between your shoulder bladesand how to find relief from the discomfort. If you want assistance to get to the root cause of your issues we are here!

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What Causes Pain In Left Shoulder After Eating

While eating may normally be a pleasurable experience, there may be occasions when you experience discomfort like pain in left shoulder. When this happens, you may have just eaten too much food. However, there may be a more serious cause that you need to keep an eye on or in some cases, seek emergency help.

Left shoulder pain is often a type of “referred pain,” that is pain from something occurring somewhere else in your body. Places that cause this include heart, esophagus, teeth, your pancreas, or other areas even lower in your digestive system.

1. Overeating

If you eat too much, the muscles around your stomach can become overstretched. Too much food can cause your stomach to push on other organs and tissues sending pain up into your shoulder.

Signs of overeating include: abdominal pain, diarrhea, excessive gas and belching, side-pain, cramping, inability to take a full deep breath, and nausea.


GERD is the short term for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It happens when your stomach acids flow back up into your esophagus and causes irritation. When you eat too much, it will cause even more acid to push upward. This can cause pain in left shoulder after eating, as well as at the center of your chest. It is often mistaken for a heart attack.

Other symptoms of GERD include heartburn after eating or even when your stomach is empty, pain in your chest, feeling of acid or food coming back up, cough, trouble swallowing, and hoarseness.

3. Gas

4. Heartburn

5. Pancreatitis

Pain Between The Shoulder Blades

Shoulder Blade Pain Relief – 4 Ways

Trauma to the muscles of the interscapular region can also cause inflammation and bruising, resulting in pain. This condition’s mechanism of injury is typical while playing contact sports or being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Moreover, a postural strain can cause a pain in the muscle in the interscapular region. This typically arises when a specific posture against gravity is maintained for a long period of time without a change in position. The best example of this is posture is prolonged sitting at a computer without changing positions for extended periods of time. Muscular pain can typically be managed well with conservative measures. Often, symptoms can be easily reproduced with palpation of the muscles and loading of the muscle at fault. Physical medicine, such as massage, ice, and heat, can provide short-term relief of pain while strengthening, and range of movement exercises can reduce poor movement patterns contributing to muscle and postural strains and provide long-term relief.

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Causes Of Shoulder Blade Pain

There are a number of different things that can cause shoulder blade pain:

  • Bursitis: Constant, dull aching shoulder blade pain with snapping/grating/grinding noise/sensation with arm movements
  • Muscle Problems: Dull ache that gets worse with arm movement and better with rest. Tends to only affect one arm/shoulder
  • Posture: Aching pain between shoulder blades, worse after being in one position for a long time
  • Nerve Problems: Associated with tingling/pins and needles, numbness and weakness. Symptoms often refer to other areas and may affect one or both shoulders/arms
  • Bone Problems: Sudden, severe, sharp localised pain caused by an injury/accident
  • Medical Disorders: Associated symptoms such as feeling unwell, chest pain, dizziness, nausea, weight loss and shortness of breath

Lets look at each cause of scapula pain in more depth.

Severe Pain Under The Left Shoulder Blade

This is a reason to immediately consult a doctor, because an intense pain signal is not characteristic of the scapular zone, therefore, is associated with a serious, possibly threatening condition. At best, severe pain under the left shoulder blade may signal intercostal neuralgia, however, a peptic ulcer or a pre-infarction condition or a heart attack can be a more disturbing cause. In a situation where the symptom is associated with gastric ulcer , the person experiences so much pain that he cannot move, pressing his arm or leg to the diseased area. Irradiating to the left, penetrating a painful symptom can serve as a direction in the diagnostic sense, since such manifestations are characteristic of an ulcer in the cardiac zone of the stomach. Severe pain under the left shoulder blade may also indicate that an angina attack goes into the pre-infarction stage, especially when it is not stopped by heart medications. In addition to a strong painful sensation, a person feels a spreading, burning sensation, perhaps pressure with a reflection in the left side – in the arm, in the neck, under the scapula.

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What Causes Left Shoulder Blade Pain

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. Accordingly, what causes pain under left shoulder blade?

The most frequent and common reason for shoulder blade pain is a muscle strain, also known as a pulled muscle. This may result from overuse or stress on the arms or upper back. As a result, you may feel pain under your shoulder blade. Further, a rotator cuff tear may lead to pain under the shoulder blade.

Similarly, how do I get rid of pain in my shoulder blade? Relieving the Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade

  • Rest your upper back from activity. If your pain worsens when you do certain movements or physical activities, such as household chores or exercise, rest for a day or two.
  • Apply ice and/or heat.
  • Visit a health care provider.
  • Also to know, can left shoulder pain be a sign of heart attack?

    People experiencing angina feel discomfort or pain as a result of the heart getting less oxygen than it needs. Along with left arm pain, symptoms might occur in the shoulders, neck, back, or jaw. Angina is not a heart attack. However, it is a sign of a heart problem.

    Is shoulder blade pain a sign of cancer?

    Shoulder pain is the most common symptom of a type of cancer called Pancoast tumor. These tumors are rare. As they grow, the pain can spread to your upper back, between your shoulder blades, your arm, and even your armpit.

    Abdominal Conditions Can Cause Shoulder Blade Pain

    Pain Between Shoulder Blades When Slouching

    Sometimes, referred pain can be felt in the shoulder blades when there are conditions affecting other organs in the body.


    The Mayo Clinic reports that along with intense pain in your right upper abdomen, gallstones can also cause pain in your right shoulder and pain between your shoulder blades.12

    Liver Disease and Cancer

    The symptoms of liver disease are usually pain or discomfort in the right upper abdomen and the skin looks yellowish as well as other symptoms. However, along with these symptoms, liver disease can cause referred pain in the right shoulder blade.13

    Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed.

    One of the symptoms of pancreatitis is a pain below the left shoulder blade. As with the other abdominal conditions, pancreatitis will have more symptoms than just pain in the shoulder.14

    According to, pancreatitis can also cause pain just under your ribs in the middle of your body and radiate to your chest, back or side. The chest pains from pancreatitis can occur in the right side or left side of your chest. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and bloating.

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    Dull Pain Under The Left Shoulder Blade

    Most often associated with developing cervical or thoracic osteochondrosis. The onset of the disease is characterized by implicit, weak, radiating to the side of the infringement of the roots, pain. The pulling, periodically subsiding sensations in the initial period do not disturb the person very much, because they are quite tolerant, besides, the pain can go away after warming up, massage, bathing in a warm bath. Often, dull pain under the left shoulder blade gradually begins to become familiar, especially clearly it is felt after sleep, in the morning, or before going to bed after long sedentary work or work that requires uniform static voltage. The pain spreads from the nape down to the arm, along the back, under the scapula, often accompanied by dizziness, nausea, paresthesias in the hands.

    Constant Pain Under The Left Shoulder Blade

    It may be a signal of developing left-sided pneumonia, dry pleurisy. Such pain is not specific, however, if it increases with deep breathing, sneezing or coughing, the condition of the bronchopulmonary system should be examined as soon as possible. Constant pain under the left shoulder blade caused by pneumonia can subside in a horizontal position when turning the body to the healthy side. In addition, a constant reflected pain symptom is a typical sign of osteochondrosis of the cervical, less often the thoracic spine. The painful sensations are chronic, but they can increase like a pulmonary symptomatology with paroxysmally, with coughing, active movements, and deep breathing. Differentiate permanent left-side pains can only be a doctor with the help of x-rays of the lungs, spinal column.

    The pain under the left shoulder blade and cough indicate a possible left-sided inflammation of the lung, which is also manifested by the following symptoms:

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    Arm Pain In The Morning And Heart Attacks

    Left arm pain is a common symptom of a heart attack. And heart attacks most commonly happen in the morning. The pain associated with a heart attack usually increases in intensity over several minutes and may be associated with a tight or heavy sensation in the chest, sweating or a feeling of being generally unwell. If this sounds like you, call an ambulance and go to an emergency room to have your heart properly assessed right away.

    Ice And Heat Application

    Relieve pain between your shoulder blades

    Ice packs are most often used to reduce swelling and pain from an acute shoulder injury. They can also be used to treat shoulder overuse injuries .

    In these cases, the ice is applied right after the overhead activity to minimize the onset of inflammation.

    Heat pads are also used to treat chronic shoulder conditions, but generally before the overhead activity is performed. Heat can relax the muscles, ease stiffness, and reduce pain.

    Before applying ice or heat, talk with your healthcare provider or physical therapist. Developing a specific plan for the timing and duration of each treatment is important so that you heal properly.

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    The Course Of Upper Back Pain

    Few studies have been done to track the frequency of upper back pain. A French study of workers across various professions found about 9% of men and 17% of women reported at least some upper back pain, but other studies have found numbers that range lower and higher.1,2

    Upper back pain can appear suddenly, such as from an injury or for no apparent reason. It can also start gradually, such as from sitting with poor posture at work.

    In some cases, upper back pain can be managed with self-care, including rest, adjusting posture, or applying heat or ice. If the pain persists, other treatments may be needed, such as medication, physical therapy, or manual manipulation.

    Due to a combination of the thoracic spines rigidity and close proximity to the heart, lungs, and other vital organs, surgery is less likely to be performed on the thoracic spine compared to the cervical and lumbar spines. Only in rare cases will an MRI or CT scan find an anatomic problem in the thoracic spine that is amenable to any sort of surgical solution for upper back pain.

    When To See A Healthcare Provider

    It’s time to seek medical attention if you have new, worsening, or severe shoulder pain. Other symptoms ought to spark the same reaction:

    • Abdominal pain
    • An injury that causes joint deformity
    • Inability to carry objects or use your arm
    • Inability to raise your arm
    • Shoulder pain that occurs at night or while resting
    • Shoulder pain that persists beyond a few days
    • Signs of an infection, including fever, skin redness, and warmth
    • Swelling or significant bruising around your joint or arm
    • Trouble breathing

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