scapular pain


The scapula, or the shoulder blade, is the flat triangular bone that is found in the shoulder. Scapular pain is a type of pain that occurs when a scapular nerve (originating from the neck) is pinched. The pain usually starts at the root of the nerve, the neck, and then goes down to the shoulder. In some cases, it may go into the arm. The pain is usually the result of excessive physical activity, and it is quite common.


The scapula is found at the back of the shoulder. It attaches the arm bone, with the ribs. Experiencing occasional scapular pain is not such a serious thing. However, persistent pain in the scapula, that prevents you from your daily routine, may be an indicator to something more serious. Inappropriate sleeping position is one of the causes for scapular pain. Because of sleeping only on one side and not using a pillow, your shoulder blade hurts. A good anatomic pillow is the solution, because it provides support for the neck and the head, causing the shoulder minimal stress. Another cause for scapular pain is excessive usage of the shoulder. In sports like badminton, tennis, golf, handball, the shoulder is excessively used, causing pain in the scapula. Fractures can as well cause shoulder blade pain. Osteoarthritis is usually the cause of shoulder blade pain with older people. It is a painful condition, which causes joints to inflame. Shoulder Nerve impingement, as we said before, may also result in pain.

A rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor) located in the shoulder area, which provide support to the shoulder joints. Any kind of rotator cuff injury, such as a subscapularis tear, can result in scapular pain. You need to maintain your posture while standing, while sitting, even while you are resting, in order to prevent the pain from worsening. A simple thing like correcting the body posture can bring you great relief.

Treatment for shoulder blade pain

Treatment depends on the real cause so that the physician can make an accurate diagnosis. When the scapular pain is not severe, it can be treated with ample rest, reduced physical activities and medication. Ant-inflammatory injections and corticosteroid injections are administered to solve the problem in more moderate pain situations. In other cases, physical therapy is required to help achieve full recovery in the mobility of the arm. If the medicines and physical therapy does not help, then the patient must undergo surgery to correct the problem. Exercises and therapy will be necessary after the surgery in order to gain mobility.

It’s important to note that shoulder blade pain is a condition that can be referred from gall bladder, heart, aorta, fallopian tubes, lungs and abdominal organs. The physician will perform thorough physical exam and laboratory test to be able to find the cause of the problem. Imaging and scan is also necessary. The shoulder problems can originate from problems not related to the shoulder. It is good to take care of yourself at home through massage and treating with warm water to alleviate the pain.

Exercises for Relief

There are exercises you can do at the comfort of your own home, which will help you with your scapular pain. One of them is retraction and protraction, which basically is motion of the shoulder. Sit in a chair, and extend your arms in front of you, as far as you can. Now try to touch your shoulder blades with your palms (left shoulder blade with right arm, right shoulder blade with left arm), stay steady for one second, and extend your arms again, returning them to the previous position. Repeat several times. Another exercise that can help is the pull apart, which will require you to use an elastic rubber band. Stand up, put your feet apart in the shoulder-width, and hold the band in front of your chest. While keeping your arms straight, pull the rubber in different directions, till it is right in front of your chest. Slowly move your arms to the previous position, and repeat the exercise several times. In addition, you could do the shoulder stretch. For this exercise, you could be seated, or you could stand up. Move your arm over the front side of your chests, and try to touch the opposite shoulder with your palm. This will allow the scapula to stretch. Hold for at least 10-15 seconds, and then release. Repeat several times.