Shoulder Blade Muscle Pain

The most common cause for that shoulder blade muscle pain that you’ve been having is strained muscle. Is it causing you less restful sleep at night? On-going pain? Restricted movement of the shoulder / arm / neck?

If this is your case, and has been confirmed by your doctor, then you can rest assured in the knowledge that it is a very common condition and one that can be treated with a few simple home remedy solutions – ice packs help reduce inflammation, holding an ice pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes a few times a day will help reduce inflammation, anti-inflammatory medicines can help reduce swelling and manage pain and massaging the area between your shoulders will help ease the tension in the muscles.

However, unrelenting or worsening shoulder blade muscle pain can sometimes be the sign of a more serious problem. If the shoulder pain is on-going and not going away with any of the above mentioned remedies, then it might just be time to call in the expertise of an orthopedic surgeon who will assess your situation, ask pertinent questions to create your profile which will then allow him to evaluate treatment possibilities.

Before considering what kind of more serious complications we might be looking at, let’s have a look at the anatomy of the shoulder blade.

The shoulder blade, also known as the scapula, is a triangular-shaped bone at the back of the shoulder. It is attached to other muscles, four of which make up what is known as the rotator cuff. The scapula is attached to the spine, neck and lower part of the skull, by other muscles. The pectoralis minor is what attaches the scapula to the front of the chest at the ribs.

More serious shoulder blade muscle pain causes:

  • Broken Scapula – an uncommon, but very painful injury, a spatula fracture is usually brought on by direct impact to the shoulder blade, often caused in car accidents, or in hard-ball sport’s impacts like cricket or hockey, or heavy collision between player in sports such as rugby or football.
  • Rotator cuff injury – the pain associated with a rotary cuff injury is described as a dull ache in the shoulder area, which increases in intensity when lying on the affected side. Those affected might have difficulty reaching behind their back and there is a general weakness in the arm. Injuries in the rotator cuff are often seen in people whose jobs (or sports) include repeated overhead motions, this might include painters, carpenters, baseball or tennis players. Rotator cuff injuries can mostly be treated and cured with physical therapy exercises, improving strength and movement of the muscles in the shoulder joint. If a tear occurs in the rotator cuff, immediate medical attention is recommended as sometimes tear injuries may need surgical intervention.
  • Shoulder Blade Dislocation – the head of the upper arm bone (the humerus) sits in an extension of the scapula, called the glenoid fossa. A deeper receptacle for the head of the humerus is created by a ring of cartilage. The rotator cuff muscles also provide stability for the shoulder joint. However, because the shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body, allowing multi directional arm movement, it means the shoulder joint is also more prone to dislocating. What actually happens is that the head of the upper arm bone (the humerus) comes out of the glenoid fossa socket.
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