What are the Most Common Causes of Shoulder Blade Pain?

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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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In most cases, shoulder blade pain is the result of strains, tears, or inflammation of the shoulders or muscles and tissues surrounding them. Pain in the shoulders might also occasionally be referred pain, which means that there is a problem with some other part of the body, and the pain is referring to the shoulders. People who suffer from heart attacks have often reported experiencing pain between their shoulder blades shortly before their attacks. Sometimes problems with the gall bladder will also refer to the shoulders. Shoulder blade pain is normally minor when it is related to muscle strain and typically resolves itself, but if the pain doesn't go away within a few days to a week, a doctor's visit might be necessary to rule out other problems.


It is normally easy to injure the shoulders without realizing how it happened because the shoulder joint is fairly complex. The shoulder actually consists of three main joints surrounded by four different major muscle groups. In order to determine exactly what is causing shoulder blade pain, doctors often have to perform several series of X-rays to determine which part of the shoulder has been injured. If the injury is minor, doctors typically recommend massage and stretching exercises as well as regular applications of both heat and ice to help with pain and swelling until the shoulder pain resolves itself. More serious injuries causing shoulder blade pain might require either physical therapy or regular chiropractic visits to help get the joints and muscles back to their normal states.

Shoulder blade pain that is not responsive to pain-reliving medicine or heat and ice therapy might actually be referred pain. People who suffer from chronic shoulder pain that doesn't seem to improve no matter what measures are taken might need to see a doctor just in case something else is wrong. When a heart attack is impending, a person might feel lightheaded, faint, and may experience tightness in the chest in addition to experiencing shoulder pain. When these symptoms are present along with shoulder blade pain, a doctor's visit should not be delayed.

People who are having problems with their gall bladders often report experiencing shoulder blade pain. When shoulder pain is related to the gall bladder, a person might initially feel slight discomfort in between the shoulder blades that continues to grow and spread until the discomfort is so intense that she cannot get comfortable no matter what she does. This pain is also typically unresponsive to any over-the-counter pain-relieving medicine. When the pain is related to the gall bladder, it might be much more severe toward the right shoulder blade, which is on the same side of the body as the gall bladder.


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