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Shoulder Blade Pain

The shoulder blade or scapula is a bony structure which floats over the upper thoracic spine on each side of the body and to which are attached the rotator cuff muscles which control and facilitate shoulder movement. It is rare to have shoulder blade pain coming from the shoulder blade itself but it is often involved in neck pain and upper back pain. Further information about upper back pain can be accessed at Wikipedia's upper back pain page and more general back pain information at NHS Choices.

Shoulder pain itself is not felt over the shoulder blade but rather over the point of the shoulder or down the outside of the upper arm.

Upper back pain symptoms can be very annoying and persistent and are often brought on when we do things such as sit at a desk or use a computer, which we do a lot of these days. Although the pain may often feel like upper back muscle pain the most likely candidates for this kind of pain are the joints of the upper back, the facet joints and the rib joints.

Pain over the upper and inner parts of the shoulder blade are strongly associated with neck problems and a physiotherapist will assess the neck and upper thoracic spine as the likely primary source of the problem. There may be neck stiffness, particularly in the mornings and pain may worsen as the day goes on and activities are persisted with.

Shoulder blade pain may come on in concert with neck pain in someone who has slept awkwardly and has a stiff neck, or it can be part of an arm pain problem from a nerve root lesion or compression in the neck nerves.


Upper Back Pain between Shoulder Blades

This kind of pain can again be referred from the cervical structures of the neck or can be generated by the local area facet joints. If a pain is below the tip of the shoulder blade it becomes middle back pain rather than upper back pain.

Shoulder blade pain may also be referred from a number of internal organs which includes the diaphragm, the abdominal organs, the heart, the gall bladder and the fallopian tubes, with it also being potentially a manifestation of lung pain. These possibilities need to be medically reviewed if there is any doubt about the musculoskeletal nature of the pain.

Upper back pain left side is commonly found as is upper back pain right side, as musculoskeletal complaints are rarely the same on both sides and a joint on one side can easily give one sided pain. Upper back pain during pregnancy may also occur although low back pain is much more common, with physiotherapy and exercise continuing to be the likely management.

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