Shoulder Blade Pain
It may or may not be coming from your shoulder blade.

Shoulder blade pain or pain in the region of your scapula or shoulder blade may or may not be coming from your shoulder blade. There are other organs and structures in that area that may cause referred pain, or pain that only feels like it is coming from your shoulder blade.






Ask Yourself...

When trying to understand what is causing your shoulder blade pain
here are some questions to consider:

Is the pain on both sides? Or is it only on one side? 

How long has your pain been there?

How did the pain start? Did it start suddenly or did it develop gradually? 

Has anything happened that may have caused the pain? Such as a fall or motor vehicle accident? 

Describe the pain. Is it aching or sharp? Is it burning and itching? Is it intermittent or constant?

Do you have any other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, profusely sweating, or abdominal pain?

All of these may give you a clue as to what is causing your shoulder blade pain.

Pain on only one side is concerning for possible referred pain from internal organs.

Pain on both sides is most likely related to activities such as gardening or a weekend football game.

Pain that has developed gradually over several weeks or months may indicate referred pain or pain that is not really shoulder blade pain.

Pain that develops suddenly may be a hint to some type of injury.

Pain that begins after an accident is most likely some type of injury.

Pain with a burning or itching quality may be related to the nerves.

There are many different possibilities to consider. These are all only very general guidelines that may give you some idea as to what is causing your pain.

The most common cause of upper back pain
is muscle strain or sprain.

Most upper back pain is muscular and related to activities. Have you been doing anything different? 

Have your activities at work changed? Have you started a new hobby? Is there anything new in the things you are doing at home or at work?

Upper back pain that is from the muscles can develop on one or both sides whenever your activities change. If you start doing something that puts stress or strain on muscles that are not used to it you may develop an aching soreness in the area of your shoulder blade.

This type of pain should go away on its own with a few days of rest. Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or Tylenol can help to relieve the discomfort.


A scapula fracture will cause shoulder blade pain that is truly coming from your shoulder blade. This usually requires significant trauma such as a fall or a motor vehicle accident, and people are usually very aware that they have been injured. 

Scapular fractures definitely need to be evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon. In most cases these fractures will heal without surgery, but if the fracture fragments are not well aligned you may need surgery to prevent permanent disability.

Pain On Only One Side?

Pain that is referred to your right shoulder blade may be radiating from your gall bladder or your right lung. Left scapula pain can develop with heart disease or a heart attack.

If you are having any other symptoms of heart problems such as shortness of breath, profuse sweating, or chest pain, you need to call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.

Burning, Itching, Tingling, Pain?

Pain that has a burning, or itching, or tingling quality may be neuropathic or nerve pain. If you have ever had chickenpox you must consider shingles.

In the beginning your skin may look normal and then after several days you may notice a red blistering rash. This will occur on only one side of your back and it may extend around to your flank but it will not extend across the center line of your back. If symptoms occur on both sides of your back shingles can be ruled out. You can read more about shingles pain at Cure Burning Upper Back Pain Ch2

What Should You Do?

Anytime you begin having upper back or shoulder blade pain you should be concerned. Especially, if you have no idea what caused it.

If your pain is mild, and you do not have any other symptoms, you are probably safe to give it a few days and it will most likely go away on its own. 

If your pain prevents normal activities, or if you have other worrisome symptoms, you need to be seen by your doctor.  



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