How often have you felt pain creeping under your shoulder blade? Especially since work from home became a new norm. Working from almost any room, in a variety of postures has led to a number of people to suffer from pain in the upper back, particularly pain under shoulder blade. Juggling work at home along with household chores also makes us more likely to ignore the right postures to work in.
While back pain under the shoulder blade may often be due to straining the muscles in the upper back, there may be a number of other causes leading to it. To get better relief from pain, it is always a good idea to find out what has been causing the pain under shoulder blade. Here are some of those reasons:
Pain under the shoulder blade often arises from muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and even intervertebral discs. Here are the musculoskeletal causes for pain under the shoulder blade:
Muscle strain at the upper back can happen due to lifting heavy weights or from overuse injuries from overdoing any activity outside of your routine. The muscle fibres are loaded beyond their capacity and get injured. This causes sharp pain and inflammation around and under the shoulder blade.
A poor posture is one that overloads the spine and puts unequal stress over the structures around the spine. Many times, you may have to adopt continuous postures while working. You may be working at your desk as an IT professional, or bending continuously while doing your chores. A poor posture can overload the muscles of the upper back and cause pain under the shoulder blade.
Pain under the shoulder can be caused due to fracture of the shoulder blade. The pain may also extend around the shoulder blade, and makes moving the arm painful.
Cervical disc herniation causes the ‘slipped’ disc to put increased pressure on the ligaments, nerves, and muscles of the neck and the upper back. The pain is often felt under the shoulder blade due to weakened upper back musculature.
An accident or a fall can cause the shoulder blade and the area around the shoulder to suffer injury. An injury from contact sports, or a hit can also cause pain and inflammation around and under the shoulder pain. The degree of pain would depend on the mechanism and extent of the injury.
Though less common than pain in the chest, pain under the shoulder blade may arise from cardiac causes. The possible reasons for pain in this area may be a heart attack or myocardial infarction, aortic dissection, or pericarditis.
Pain under the shoulder blade may arise from pulmonary diseases. Conditions like pneumothorax or pulmonary embolism may also cause pain around the shoulder blade. Lung cancers and Pancoast tumors may also be contributing factors to pain under the shoulder blade.
Causes of pain under the shoulder blade of abdominal and pelvic origin may occur from gastritis, acid reflux, inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, ectopic pregnancy, or ovarian cyst. This type of pain is called referred pain, though unusual in this area, it is still a possibility.
Among other possible causes of pain under the shoulder blade, shingles, an infection that affects the area supplied by the affected nerve. It causes burning or tingling pain with a preceding rash. Gallstones may also cause pain under the shoulder blade
Lung cancer, liver cancer, oesophageal cancer, lymphoma, or bone cancer may also lead to pain that may spread to the area under the shoulder blade.
Taking short breaks from postures that cause pain help in reducing the strain over the muscles of the upper back. Sometimes even taking a day off can ease the inflammation of muscles under the shoulder blade.
Ergonomic changes allow the muscles of the body to work efficiently, without causing any strain. Small ergonomic changes to workplaces and household areas go a long way in reducing postural strain.
Using back supports that help you prop yourself up and keep you in the correct posture will further reduce strain in the upper back. Back support not only aligns your spine but also send the right feedback to your brain to reinforce correct posture.
Using a hot or cold pack temporarily reduces any pain or inflammation that occurs due to muscle strain at the upper back. Use them for at least ten minutes two to three times a day.
You can perform basic upper back stretches to relieve any tension in the muscles. Performing basic stretches in your routine can also help in preventing muscle strain in the upper back.
Whether working from home or cooking in your kitchen, learn the best postures to perform each task. Learning which postures help in reducing strain over your body will help you to consciously work towards good postures.
Taking regular breaks every few hours helps in relieving any strain that may have accumulated in the structures of your body, particularly the postural muscles.
A balanced diet along with the supplements your body requires will keep your body in the best of health. Muscles fatigue easily if you are not adequately hydrated, or if they lack essential nutrients. Poor nutrition of muscles and bones makes them more susceptible to injury.
Keeping an active routine helps your body to maintain the strength and flexibility of your body. Regular exercise, whether yoga, pilates, swimming, or gymming, will contribute towards a healthy lifestyle to keep you pain free.
Dr. Bhashkar Singh