Scapula Pain
Tenderness around the scapula is a hallmark symptom of scapula pain.

The scapula or shoulder blade is a large triangular bone that lies in the upper part of your back. Various reasons can cause scapula pain. The most common cause of scapula pain is injury or the strain of muscles and tendons surrounding the scapula.

The scapula pain may not be severe, but in rare cases, it could indicate a health condition.

The causes of scapula pain include:

  • Muscle strain: Also called pulled muscle, interferes with daily activities and can make simple tasks difficult, such as reaching for an object. They are easily treated with simple massage techniques that use moderate pressure to relieve pain.
    • The most common cause of muscle strain is due to the following:
      • Improper posture
      • Lifting heavy objects
      • Working for longer periods on a computer
      • Exercises
  • Muscle injuries: Any injuries to other parts may result in pain in the scapular region. 
  • Shoulder blade fractures: Any trauma or fracture in the shoulder blade can result in sharp dull aching pain, swelling, and bruising in the scapular region. Only 10 percent of people with shoulder blade problems may require surgery.
  • Nerve inflammation: A referred pain caused by the pinched nerve in the upper spine. The symptoms may include pain, numbness, and tingling.
  • Heart and lung conditions:
  • Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia causes pain and stiffness of muscles and joints in the trunk, neck, shoulders, back, and hips. People with fibromyalgia may experience severe scapula pain.

Other causes of scapula pain include:

What are the symptoms associated with scapula pain?

A network of muscles and tendons surrounds the scapula. Any strain or injuries to these muscles may lead to the symptoms.

The following are the symptoms that are associated with scapula pain:

  • Dull, achy, sharp pain
  • Tenderness around the scapula, particularly in the upper and medial regions of the scapula
  • Weakness in the affected side of the arm when working extensively
  • Tightness around the scapula region
  • The affected side may have titled posture
  • With limited movement in the arm, the person may not be able to raise the hand above shoulder level
  • Snapping sound in the shoulder during the shoulder movements
  • Scapula protrusion

What are the ways to diagnose scapula pain?

The doctor will examine the shoulder first to determine the causes of the pain.

The other tests to assess the pain include:

How to treat scapula pain

Scapula pain due to injuries can be treated in the following ways:

  • Properly rest the scapula muscles
  • Exercise programs to strengthen the upper body include stretching exercises for shoulder muscles and joints
    • A few exercises may help strengthen the upper back muscles, such as push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups
    • Shoulder blade squeeze, arm circles, and planks may help relieve the symptoms
  • Soaking in a hot bath or using a heating pad may help reduce the pain
  • Medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, may help alleviate pain.

Some conditions, including severe shoulder blade pain, pain that is non-responsiveness to nonsurgical treatment, severe arthritis, and shoulder blade fracture, may necessitate surgery.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/11/2022
References
Image Source: iStock image

Shoulder Pain. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/why-does-my-shoulder-hurt

Scapular (Shoulder Blade) Disorders. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/scapular-shoulder-blade-disorders

Shoulder Pain and Problems. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/shoulder-pain-and-problems