Also referred to by medical professionals as interscapular pain, shoulder blades pain is in most instances not to be worried about. However, in serious cases as well as to manage the discomfort associated with the pain, it is still recommended to seek help from your doctor. For starters, a shooting pain felt between the shoulder blades is one of the symptoms to watch out for. As the pain continues other signs will be felt such as aching pain or the feeling of soreness in the shoulder blades.
It is important that the pain is addressed as early as possible to easily eliminate the symptoms and provide shoulder blade pain relief to the patient. However, before we proceed with the treatments to be offered, it is best to know the other aspects of this medical condition. To start with, let us tackle the different causes of shoulder blades pain.
What Causes Shoulder Blade Pain?
One of the most common reasons behind the occurrence of shoulder blades pain is a muscle strain or muscle injury. This could be due to any of the factors cited below.
- poor posture
- lifting of heavy things
- long periods of computer use
- strenuous exercise and physical activities
- wrong sleep position
- spinal fractures
- muscle trauma
- tears in the rotator cuff
In addition to muscle injury or muscle strain, in some cases, the occurrence of pain in the shoulder blades indicates possible heart attack especially when it happens along with other symptoms such as breath shortness and chest pain. When these symptoms are felt, it is highly recommended to seek immediate medical help.
Many medical studies also found shoulder blades pain as an indicator of aortic dissection, which is a medical condition that is characterized by a large blood vessel tear. Aside from shoulder blades pain, severe upper middle back pain is also experienced by patients who have an aortic dissection.
Another alarming illness that has shoulder blades pain as its symptom is the pulmonary embolism. This is because at this condition the legs blood clots are reaching the lungs, thus causing the pain. Breath shortness is also felt when pulmonary embolism occurs.
Other health conditions that cause us pain between the shoulder blades are as follow.
- herniated spinal disease
- spinal stenosis
- joints osteoarthritis
- acid reflux
- myofascial pain syndrome
- liver cancer, lung cancer, bone cancer, and esophageal cancer
- nerve compression
When Is It Time to Seek Medical Help?
As mentioned, mild cases of shoulder blades pain usually go away on its own. However, since the medical condition is a symptom of some serious illnesses, it is important to watch out for other signs that a patient is experiencing in addition to the pain. Here is a roundup of other symptoms that when felt along with the pain warrants a patient to ask for emergency care.
- breath shortness
- chest pain
- sweating excessively
- legs redness
- legs swelling
- blood when you cough
- irregular beating of the heart
- vision loss
- consciousness loss
5 Shoulder Blade Pain Relief Options
For patients whose shoulder blade pain is not that severe can try some of the alternative remedies at home. One of these is regular exercise as it will surely strengthen your back. Among the home exercises that are best to provide us with shoulder blade pain relief are situps, pushups as well as pull-ups as these are all designed to improve our abdominal and back muscles.
In addition to regular exercise, stretching, and other physical activities, having a balanced and healthy diet is important to recover from this type of muscle pain. Nutritionists agree that there are some foods that are not to be eaten when you are suffering from shoulder back pain. Among these is the processed foods as these could worsen the pain and result in inflammation. If processed foods are a big no, fruits, vegetables, and foods that have high omega-3 fatty acids are highly recommended to speed up a patient’s recovery.
Massage and Physical Therapy
Different therapies are also advised to eliminate the pain and discomfort that the patient is experiencing. Patients can always opt for physical therapy or for massage therapy. Either way, these will provide comfort and may relieve muscle injury or strain.
What are the different benefits of massage therapy and physical therapy that patients with shoulder back pain can get? As for massage therapy, the therapist can focus on the shoulder blades and apply different massage devices to relax the tissues and joints in the back. On the other hand, physical therapy is commonly advised by doctors for patients who have compressed nerve aside from the pain.
For faster relief, medical professionals may also recommend or prescribe several pain relievers to the patient to eliminate the discomfort one is experiencing. Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly prescribed treatments. In some cases, antidepressants along with muscle relaxers are also recommended as these could alleviate stiffness and soreness in the shoulder blades. If the pain relievers and relaxers are still ineffective, patients may also be prescribed with an injectable or pill steroids to eliminate the inflammation as well as pain.
Above all, if diet, exercise, therapies, and medications seem to still not be working to provide a patient with shoulder back pain relief, then the patient should consult and ask the physician about undergoing a surgical procedure. Doing surgeries for the shoulder blades are rarely recommended unless the pain is severe. However, if after diagnoses, the patient is found to have scarred tissue or tendons resulting in the back pain, then surgery is the best option to go with. What is important is to first try the nonsurgical options before going for surgery since a study by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found that rest, medications and exercise are effective in treating 90 percent of patients with this pain.
Prevention Is Still Better Than Cure
As always, I still go for the saying, prevention is better than cure. As for those who have previously treated from shoulder back pain, below are some preventive measures to try to avoid the pain from recurring.
- Avoid lifting heavy things
- Always have a good posture
- Eat healthy foods
- Have at least eight hours of sleep daily