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Pain Under Right Shoulder Blade

Written by Dr.Mary

If you are experiencing pain under the right shoulder blade, the most important thing that you need to avoid is diagnosing yourself. While this symptom might be caused by a minor health issue, it can also be the sign of more serious health problems. It is for the best that you seek out the specialized assistance of a doctor, allowing him or her to put the years of knowledge to good use, making the correct diagnosis. Once the diagnosis has been made, the doctor can recommend you the appropriate treatment measures and pain relief solutions.


Causes of Pain Under Right Shoulder Blade

These are the most common causes that lead to the appearance of pain under the right shoulder blade:

Gallstones

  • These accumulate in the gallbladder, due to improper dietary choices, stress and lack of physical exercise
  • The pain is quite intense and it most often appears after a meal that is too heavy
  • The pain irradiates to other parts of the body, including under the right shoulder blade

Heart attack

  • The blood supply to the heart is blocked by a thrombi, leading to the heart attack
  • One of the most characteristic symptoms of the heart attack is pain – commonly experience in the chest or left arm, it can also radiate to other parts of the body, such as under the right shoulder blade
  • This constitutes a medical emergency, as the condition can become life-threatening in a short period of time

Scapula fracture

  • Intense pain experienced under the right shoulder blade
  • The patient cannot move the right arm – lack of mobility + really intense pain
  • Immediate intervention is necessary

Liver cancer

  • In case of such diagnosis, there are two possibilities:
    • The tumor in the liver has grown so big that it causes a lot of pain; this pain can irradiate, being felt by the patient under the right shoulder blade
    • There are metastases that cause such kind of pain in that particular location

Lung cancer

  • Depending on the size of the cancerous growth, the patient might experience pain under the right shoulder blade
  • It should be noted that the pain is not aggravated by movement and that it is also present when the patient is resting

Breast cancer

Often times, when the pain appears under the right shoulder blade, it is a sign that the cancer has spread (possible metastases developed)

Arthritis

  • In patients suffering from arthritis, the most common symptoms include inflammation and pain
  • The pain can originate right under the shoulder blade or can irradiate from other parts of the body
  • The patients generally describe the pain as ‘stabbing’, preventing them from functioning normally (function loss, reduction of daily living activities)

Subscapularis muscle inflammation

  • Muscle inflammation is a common cause that leads to the appearance of pain under the right shoulder blade
  • Often appears in athletes, as a result of overuse in physical training

Other causes

  • Bad posture – especially when sitting in front of the computer (tendency to slouch) – muscle spasms lead to pain under the right shoulder blade
  • Neurological problems – if you have a problem with your spine, such as a disc hernia, you might also have an entrapped or pinched nerve; depending on the affected root, you might experience such kind of pain in the shoulder blade
  • The bad posture during sleep can lead to such problems as well.

Treatment

These are the most common treatment measures that can be taken for pain under the right shoulder blade:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication

  • Most recommended – acetaminophen, ibuprofen
  • Aspirin should be taken with care by those who have clotting problems
  • Benefits – pain relief and reduction of inflammation
  • Oral administration

Analgesics

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  • Pain relief
  • Oral or topical administration (ointment, cream, gel)

Physical therapy

  • The physical therapist can show you an exercise program designed to reduce pain
  • After the acute period of pain, you will be given a new set of exercises – these are going to help you regain your normal range of motion

Occupational therapy

  • The occupational therapist can show you the best way to handle daily living activities (you practically learn how to overcome the pain, maintaining the maximum amount of functionality that is possible)

Relief

If you are looking to obtain relief from the pain under the right shoulder blade, you should first consider the R.I.C.E protocol. This constitutes of:

  • Rest – no more physical movement, especially in the area where the pain is experienced)
  • Ice – avoid applying direct ice to the skin or you can cause circulatory problems; it is for the best that you wrap the ice packs in a towel and then apply it to the skin
  • Compress – there are special straps that the doctor can recommend in order to maintain the shoulder blade in a correct position and compress it a little bit; the main advantage is that the swelling is reduced
  • Elevation – try to sleep on several pillows, so as to keep the shoulder elevated; this will contribute to pain relief and reduction of inflammation

It should be noted that cold applications can bring relief in only certain cases. There are situations in which the pain experienced under the right shoulder blade is best treated with heat. This is the situation of muscle spasms, as the pain relief is infinitely better when heat applications are used. In fact, there is a general rule that you can abide: for contraction or spasm you use heat, for inflammation you use cold. If you follow this rule, you will always obtain relief from the pain you are experiencing.

In conclusion, you should never treat the pain experienced under the right shoulder blade as a mere symptom. As you had the opportunity to read, it can hide a wide range of serious medical conditions. If you get the right treatment for the underlying condition, it is guaranteed that the pain will disappear as well. One last advice: continue with the physical therapy sessions even after the pain has subsided.

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