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Shoulder Blade Pain

Are you suffering from Shoulder blade pain?

A chiropractor administering an adjustment on a patient.
Pain between the shoulders or shoulder blades can be a common problem arising from overuse of the shoulder muscles, a pinched nerve in the neck, or rotator cuff tendonitis.

You can experience sharp, shooting pain or a dull throbbing ache in your upper back or between your shoulders because of the trauma of a car accident or inflammation in the region.

Shoulder pain can be due to the following causes:

Musculoskeletal Causes

Damage or injury to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding the shoulder blade can cause pain and discomfort in your shoulder blades.
The muscles tissues can be damaged in the case of:
- An impact injury from a car accident: You can have shoulder blade pain after a car accident because of injuries like a rotator cuff tear or a fracture.
- Muscle strain or sprain: Shoulder muscle strain and sprain can happen because of:
poor posture
Improper lifting of heavy weights
Working on a computer for a long time
Improper sleeping posture
Overuse of shoulder muscle

Cardiovascular causes

The following heart-related issues can cause shoulder blade pain:
Heart attack with accompanying chest pain
Heart problems, like aorta dissection and pericarditis
A chiropractor administering chiropractic treatment at the Vancouver clinic.

Gastrointestinal Causes

Certain abdominal problems can cause referred pain in your shoulder blades like:
Peptic ulcers
Acid reflux
Liver disease

Bones and joint-related causes:

You can have shoulder pain because of:
Arthritis: You can have arthritis in your shoulders, or it could be a referred pain from arthritis of the chest, ribs, or spine.
Osteoporosis: It may affect your shoulders, shoulder blade, and neck.
Compressed nerves: Pressure on the nerves in the neck can cause pain in your shoulder blades.
Shoulder blade fracture: Though uncommon, you can experience a fracture from a fall or an injury resulting from a car accident.


Certain cancers affecting the chest may cause pain in the shoulder blade.
Stomach cancer
Pancreatic cancer
Esophageal cancer

What are the symptoms of shoulder blade pain?

The symptoms of shoulder blade pain will vary depending on the cause of the pain as follows:

Shoulder strain

It is common to experience shoulder strain from a sports injury or following a car accident.


A sharp pain accompanied by swelling, bruising, and tenderness in the affected area.

Shoulder Arthritis

It can result from abnormal wear and tear of the joints in your shoulders or inflammation in the area. You can have arthritis because of an autoimmune condition, as in rheumatoid arthritis, or from an injury from a car accident like post-traumatic arthritis.


Pain that worsens with movement of the affected joint
Limited range of motion involving the shoulder joint
Pain when trying to sleep or during rest

Rotator cuff Tendinitis

You can experience pain from an inflammation of the rotator cuff due to the repeated throwing and swinging of objects that cause overuse of the shoulder muscles.


Nagging, aching pain in the shoulder and upper arm that worsens with raising arms or reaching backward, limiting your shoulder movement.

A pinched nerve in the neck

Nerve compression in the neck by the surrounding muscles, bones, or tissues can happen due to a traumatic injury from a car accident or sports.


Sharp, burning pain with numbness or tingling sensation that spreads from the neck to the shoulders
Weakness and numbness in the arm or hand
Working on a computer for a long time
Improper sleeping posture
Overuse of shoulder muscle

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

It happens from overuse of muscles that cause the development of scar tissues, and leads to pain in the affected area.
Deep aching pain in the muscles that may worsen with massage or rest
Difficulty sleeping because of the pain and discomfort

Frozen Shoulder

An injury causes the shoulder capsule to become immobile, tight, and painful. Frozen shoulders can also arise from diabetes, thyroid abnormalities, or heart problems.


A gradual worsening of the ability to move the shoulders because of pain and stiffness in the upper arm and shoulder area
Dull, achy shoulder pain that limits movement


Although the exact cause is unknown, it can happen after a stressful physical or emotional event like a car accident or a divorce.


Poor sleep with foggy thinking and headaches
Painful menstrual periods
Chronic fatigue
Increased sensitivity to bright lights, loud noises, heat, and cold
Some degree of depression and anxiety.

Some of the other common symptoms of shoulder pain include:

Fatigue and weakness in the affected arm or shoulder
A snapping or crunching sound with shoulder movement
A tilted posture on the affected shoulder
A visible projection of the shoulder blade

When shoulder blade pain can be an emergency?

If you experience a sudden pain in your shoulder blade followed by the following symptoms, you need to seek emergency care.
Excessive sweating
Tightness in the chest
Difficult or painful breathing
Pain in the neck or jaw
Difficulty with speaking

How is shoulder blade pain diagnosed?

Diagnosis of shoulder blade pain would involve an interview with your doctor to determine the specific cause of your pain. Your doctor can perform the following tests to rule out serious health issues.
MRI or CAT scan to rule out abnormalities in the lung and chest
Blood work to test liver functions
ECG or EKG or stress test to determine your heart condition
Endoscopy to test for abdominal issues

What is the treatment of shoulder blade pain?

The treatment of shoulder blade pain would depend on the cause and severity of the symptoms and may include:
Rest: For simple causes of shoulder pain involving overuse of muscles, resting the area can relieve the pain and discomfort
Physical therapy: A chiropractor can use light stretching exercises and physical therapy to relieve pain and discomfort in the affected shoulders
Medications: Painkillers like Ibuprofen or corticosteroid injections and ointments with muscle relaxers are used to remove the symptoms
Surgery: In case of severe shoulder fractures and arthritis or damage to the tendon or ligament, your chiropractor can refer you to a specialist for surgery
Pain in the neck or jaw
Difficulty with speaking

Can a chiropractor help you with shoulder blade pain?

Chiropractic care can be an effective and non-invasive treatment for shoulder blade pain.
Experienced chiropractors like those at Accidental Care Chiropractic use techniques that utilize your body's inherent strength and flexibility to heal the pain and symptoms in the affected area.
Depending on the cause of injury, the treatment may involve the following
Chiropractic adjustments: Techniques are used to correct spinal and rib misalignments that help restore your scapula posture relieving pain in the area;
Soft tissue and massage therapy: Specific massage is used to loosen stiff muscles and strengthen them around the scapula.

Visit Accident Care Chiropractic for Shoulder Blade Pain

If you are currently experiencing shoulder blade pain because of an auto accident or other causes, the doctors at Accidental Care Chiropractic can help you.

Our service area extends to Portland, OR; Vancouver; Salem; Hillsboro; and beyond. So if you are experiencing shoulder blade pain, reach out to us today to schedule a consultation!

How Can We Help You?

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