The scapula, more commonly known as the shoulder blade, is a flat bone shaped much like a triangle. This bone attaches the arm bone to the bones of the ribs. Pain in this area of the body is quite common and can have several potential causes, the most common being excessive or strenuous physical activity. Scapula pain can also be caused by sleeping position or degenerative diseases such as arthritis. Physical trauma or injury can also cause shoulder blade pain, so it is important to see a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Occasional scapula pain is to be expected due to the amount of muscle usage in this area of the body. However, if the pain becomes persistent or severe, a trip to the doctor is advisable. Sometimes, changing sleeping positions can help to alleviate the pain. Doctors typically suggest sleeping on the back as much as possible. If this is too difficult, using a high-quality pillow and avoiding sleeping in one position for too long at a time can be quite beneficial.
Arthritis is not a common cause of shoulder blade pain, but it has been reported. In arthritic conditions, especially in osteoarthritis, the surrounding joints become damaged. This can lead to a significant amount of pain and inflammation. Doctors will often prescribe medication to help relieve these symptoms, with cortisone injections being a popular treatment option.
If the scapula pain does not restrict itself to the shoulder area but instead travels down the arm, a compressed, or pinched, nerve may be suspected. A pinched nerve in the neck region of the spine is a common cause of shoulder blade pain. Various treatment options are available for this type of injury, including medications, massage therapy, and in some situations, surgical intervention.
One of the most common sources of scapula pain is a rotator cuff injury. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that work together to support and stabilize the joint found in the shoulder. When one or more of these muscles become damages, the pain frequently manifests itself as scapula pain. This type of injury is most common among athletes who use their shoulder muscles repetitively. If left untreated, this type of injury can lead to permanent damage.
Treatment for a rotator cuff injury is a bit different from treatment options involving other types of scapula pain. In some cases, this type of injury can be treated at home with ice therapy, rest, and medications. However, surgery is frequently necessary to repair muscle damage so that healing will occur, hopefully without any permanent loss of function.