Chronic Shoulder Blades Pain and Causes

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Shoulder blade is in the upper side of your back, the scapulae, which become prominent if you pull your elbows close to your trunk or extend your elbow towards your back, the triangular shaped bony prominence is called shoulder blade. Its basic function is to provide support to the shoulder girdle and helps in the movement of arms.

shoulder blade pain

image credit: ehealthstar.com

It is prone to both acute and chronic types of pain. Reasons for acute pain are described in the other article. Some of which may persist as chronic or recurrent pain. Chronic shoulder blade pain’s reasons are not as diverse as acute pain. Most people complain about chronic shoulder blades pain that have to sit for a long period of time at their jobs like computer operators, call operators, data managers etc. It affects both neck and shoulder. There are two clinically recognizable conditions in which shoulder blades are prone to chronic pain:

  • Muscular irritation (myofascial pain)
  • Joint dysfunction

Muscular Irritation:

Muscular irritation or myofascial pain develops in large muscles that hangs scapula (shoulder blades) with the shoulder girdle and do support thoracic rib cage. They are prone to dysfuctions especially tears, sprains, over function lethargy and lactic acid accumulation which may persist for a long time. It is very difficult to continue with these conditions. There are a number of therapies advised by orthopedics and GPs. Some of them are:

  1. Exercise/active and passive physical therapy
  2. Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulations
  3. Massage therapy
  4.  Acupuncture

Some medications can also be helpful for chronic pains, most of it involves inflammation of muscles, so, anti-inflammatory will be helpful. Drugs like ibuprofen or other COX-2 inhibitors are advised in this case.

Joint Dysfunction:

The ribs connect with the thoracic spine by two joints, one on each side. These joints are prone to dislocations most often which cause chronic shoulder blades pain.

Its treatment is dependent on various factors:

  1. Joint mobilization.
  2. Pain relief
  3. Lasting effect

Joint mobilization can be achieved with manual manipulations with an osteopathic physician, chiropractor or a physical therapist trained in manipulation. It also involves lifestyle modifications. Yoga or aerobics adaptation has proven vital for the complete pain free mobilization of joints.

In addition to manual treatments, medications are also advised in this case too. Because joint dislocations usually causes joint inflammations which can be reduced by anti-inflammatory drugs, as stated earlier, ibuprofen or other COX-2 inhibitors are useful.


Dr.Mark Gomez is an accomplished orthopedic surgeon. He has a lot of experience in this remarkable medical specialty and he believes all the education and training that he has received is rewarding. He helps patients with the diagnosis of problems associated with musculoskeletal system.

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