There are multiple potential causes for a pain under shoulder blade and it may be confusing at first. Sometimes the pain will be nothing to worry about and other times it may indicate a serious or even fatal condition, like lung cancer. The first thing to do is to eliminate the opportunity of having any serious problems with your shoulder blades and the related joints as these areas of the body are complex.

Common Causes of Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade


Postural Patterns

  • Poor Posture at Work: You may not know that using a mouse in a poor posture for a long time can make you feel pain. If so, you should set up your mouse so you can touch it only by raising your hand while keeping your elbow by your side.

  • Driving for a Long Time: If you have your arms high up with elbows up, you will notice pain under left shoulder blade.

  • Holding an Object: Holding an object for a long time also can cause pain. So whether you are holding a child on your hip or some other object in front of you, always rely on additional support if you will be holding the object for a while.

  • Holding a Shoulder Bag: This will create a holding pattern in your shoulder that extends to your head and neck.

  • Sleeping on Your Side: This will put additional pressure on your shoulders, neck, and jaw. Sleeping your belly causes jaw pressure and is worse.

  • Lifting Weights: If you lift weights, but don’t balance your back muscles, you should expect pain under shoulder blade.


Getting Older

As you get older, your bones get brittle as bone density decreases. Osteoporosis can make your bones even more brittle or susceptible to injuries. In this case, minor falls may lead to pain in left shoulder blade from a fractured shoulder bone or scapula.


Getting the Flu or Cold

When you first get the flu, you may notice body aches first. After this, your general discomfort is joined by a fever and runny nose. If your shoulder muscles have a rigid feel from the flu or cold, remember it is temporary. You can relieve it with a hot compress.


Compressing a Nerve

Compressing or pinching a nerve causes pain to radiate from your shoulder down your arm. You can usually treat this with over-the-counter cream-based ointments, liquid relievers, or medications to soothe the nerve. If the problem recurs, your doctor may suggest physiotherapy.


Having a Frozen Shoulder

This occurs if you don’t have enough synovial fluid in your shoulder as this fluid is responsible for the shoulder moving smoothly. A frozen shoulder will cause pain under shoulder blade that gets worse with movement. You will need to completely restrict your motion and do some combination of physiotherapy, heat therapy, low-intensity exercises, and taking medication.


Having Arthritis

Arthritis may also lead to stabbing pain in or surrounding the shoulder. It restricts your arm movement and is controllable with specific medications.


Developing a Fracture

One of the strongest causes of shoulder pain would be a fracture of the collarbone or shoulder blade. Any accident traumatizing the bones may lead to a crack and as the pain has a radiative nature, it covers the entire shoulder. In some cases, you may need surgery to reposition the bone and to then follow post-surgical exercises.


Having a Gallbladder Attack

Gallbladder diseases like gallstones frequently cause pain underneath the right shoulder, particularly the blade. Gallstones obstruct bile flow, leading to upper abdominal pain that may move up to the right shoulder. A gallstone attack may be fifteen minutes or several hours. Gallstone attacks are usually after a heavy, fatty meal and may include nausea or vomiting as well.


Experiencing a Heart Attack

For men, heart attacks include shoulder pain and in women, the pain is between their shoulder blades. Remember that other symptoms also determine whether it is a heart attack. Therefore you should call an ambulance if you have pain under your shoulder blade and other symptoms, such as vomiting, dizziness, pain on your chest’s left side, or excessive sweating.


Developing Liver Diseases

Liver abscesses, cancer, or other liver diseases can lead to pain underneath your right shoulder. Liver cancer may be the culprit if it has spread. Liver abscess (bacterial infection) eats part of the liver so there is a gaping hole that causes pain. This pain travels up to the shoulder.


Developing Breast Cancer

In many cases, shoulder pain is the result of breast cancer which has spread. Women who have a breast cancer risk should be screened as soon as possible if they have pain under either shoulder blade.

General Measures to Relieve Pain Under Shoulder Blade


Restrict Arm and Shoulder Use

The very first thing to do if you develop pain is to pay attention to how you use your arms and shoulders on a regular basis. Try to stop doing anything that will apply pressure to your shoulders so you can rest it instead. Try to also rest the shoulder regularly, by supporting your back or lying flat.


Careful Stretching

Gentle stretching exercises or simple yoga can help you relax fatigued shoulder muscles and experience pain relief.


Apply Ice/Heat

In cases of inflammation from overstretched soft tissues, like muscles, applying ice can help provide relief. Wrap the ice in cloth so it doesn’t directly touch the skin and apply it for fifteen minutes three times a day to reduce pain and inflammation. Applying a heating pad to the shoulder can also help. It will improve blood circulation to relieve pain and speed up recovery.



A doctor will usually give you a prescription for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs to help with temporary pain relief. They may also give you a steroid injection.

When to See a Doctor

You can only select the right treatment option for pain under shoulder blade after diagnosing the cause. Therefore any regular pain in this area should mean a trip to the doctor to determine the cause and treatment.

Always contact your doctor if there is nausea, trouble breathing, or chest pain over a long period of time. Also pay attention to other symptoms you experience as this will make your doctor’s diagnosis easier.


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