Pain in the scapula or around the scapula is a problem that almost everyone experiences from time to time. There may be complaints such as sharp pain, blunt pain, tingling, discomfort, crunching sound between or around the shoulder blades. The pain may be exacerbated by turning the neck to one side or extending the arm. Often these symptoms are caused by temporary muscle problems, but sometimes they can be a sign of a more serious disease. In this article, we have discussed the most common causes of pain in the scapula.
The scapula is called the scapula in medical terminology. This triangular shaped flat bone in our back functions as a support for shoulder movements.
What Causes Shoulder Bone Pain?
The most common cause is muscle and tendon strain or injury. Posture disorder may occur due to working at the computer for a long time, sleeping in an unfamiliar position, lifting heavy loads, exercising intensely or with the wrong technique.
Stress and strain can create small tender knots (trigger points) in muscle fibers. These knots (trigger points) can cause a crunching sound when the shoulder and scapula are moved. The pain of shoulder muscle compression and tear can also hit the shovel.
Pain around the scapula can be associated with many other causes. Musculoskeletal problems such as spinal calcification (degenerative disc disease), neck hernia , scoliosis , spinal canal narrowing (spinal stenosis), fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome , which are common muscle rheumatism, and nerve compression can be found.
If there has been a trauma such as a fall or blow, the possibility of fracture should not be overlooked.
Shingles infection can lead to complaints such as pain, aches and burning in the back. In this case, there may be a strip-like redness and a blistering rash on the back along the nerve affected by the shingles virus.
Sudden onset scapula pain can sometimes be a sign of a heart attack . If complaints such as chest pain and shortness of breath are accompanied, this possibility should be reviewed. In the event of a heart attack, immediate medical attention should be sought.
If there is fever, shortness of breath, cough, sputum, lung infection (pneumonia) may be present.
There are two main different diseases known as muscle rheumatism among the people: fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome.
- Fibromyalgia: It is a kind of soft tissue or muscle rheumatism with widespread muscle and bone pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, forgetfulness, mood disorders. You can read our related article about fibromyalgia symptoms .
- Myofascial Pain Syndrome: There is the formation of trigger points that produce pain in the muscles. Repetitive straining of the muscles can cause trigger points. One or more muscles may be involved. The pain of the trigger point may radiate to distant areas from where it is located, this is called referred pain. Trigger points are also known as kulunç among the people .
Does Neck Hernia Cause Pain in the Shovel?
Causes such as neck hernia, calcification in the neck and back, narrowing of the spinal canal, nerve root or nerve fiber compression may also cause pain in the shoulder blade. Pain may be affected by neck movements, may spread to the arm and hand, and may be accompanied by sensations such as numbness, burning, and muscle weakness.
Scapula Pain and Cancer
Sometimes diseases in the internal organs can also be felt like scapula pain. Stomach acid reflux, gallstones, gallbladder inflammation, various types of cancer can cause scapula pain. Lung cancer, liver cancer, esophageal cancer, cancers involving bones, connective tissue tumors should be suspected, especially if the pain is unrelated to movement, continuously, intensifying, and awakening at night. Although these reasons are seen less frequently, a doctor should be consulted when in doubt.
Right Scapula Pain
The symptoms of all of the conditions we mentioned above can be reflected in the right shoulder blade. In addition, liver and bile problems can cause right shoulder pain.
Left Scapula Pain
The symptoms of all of the conditions we mentioned above can be reflected in the right shoulder blade. In addition to these, heart problems can be felt towards the left shoulder. Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), problems with the spleen can also cause pain radiating to the left shoulder.
Sudden Severe Pain in the Middle of the Back
Sudden onset of sharp, severe pain in the upper middle part of the back may be a sign of a rupture or separation in the aorta , the largest vessel exiting the heart . This condition, which is not observed very often, can be difficult to diagnose. Rupture of the aorta is a medical problem that requires immediate attention.
Another serious problem that can feel like back or shoulder blade pain is a clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism). Clots in the leg veins may occur due to prolonged inactivity or for another reason; this clot may break off and travel to the lungs. Symptoms such as sudden severe back pain and shortness of breath may occur in the person. It is an urgent issue. A hospital should be sought immediately.
When Should You Go to the Doctor Urgently for Shoulder Bone Pain?
If the pain is severe, does not relieve, or if it is a pain that you have never felt before, you should consult a doctor. Although the pain felt in the scapula is not a serious problem most of the time, it is useful to have it checked if it bothers you.
Some symptoms accompanying the pain may indicate a serious, life-threatening problem. The following symptoms may indicate a medical emergency:
- Shortness of breath
- chest pain
- clouding of consciousness
- excessive sweating
- leg pain swelling redness
- coughing up blood
- Loss of strength in an arm or leg
- vision loss
- speech impairment
Your doctor first listens to your complaints. It questions the onset time and form of pain, its relationship with movement and day and night, factors that increase and decrease pain, and other accompanying symptoms. Then he inspects. It examines tenderness in the painful area, pain and limitation in joint movements, strength and sensation. Depending on the situation, lung, heart and abdominal examination may be required. The result is a preliminary diagnosis. In order to confirm the preliminary diagnosis and exclude other possible causes, tests such as blood examination, ECG, X-ray film, and ultrasonography may be required.
How Is Scapula Pain Treated?
If there are no additional symptoms mentioned above, the problem is most likely caused by muscle or connective tissue. In this case , methods such as stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, correcting posture, applying hot or cold , massage, avoiding excessively challenging activities can relieve the pain.
Sometimes it may be sufficient to take a break from work and exercises that only increase the pain for a few days. On the other hand, being inactive for a long time is not good for the muscles either. In order to reduce the risk of recurrence of muscle pain, factors such as regular sleep and healthy nutrition should be considered. Pain relievers or muscle relaxants may be prescribed by your doctor for short periods. Dry needling , neural prolotherapy is an effective treatment method for pain caused by myofascial trigger points . Physical therapy methods such as TENS , ultrasound therapy , laser application can also be applied.
If there are problems such as neck hernia, nerve compression, fibromyalgia, the treatment is planned specifically for these problems.
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