shoulder blade

Shoulder blade blues!

Pain in the shoulder blade or scapula is extremely common and can be caused by a number of different factors and can be referred to as interscapular pain!

Shoulder blade pain can feel aching, dull, sore, and shooting. Most of the time it isn’t anything to worry about and your Chiropractor can diagnose and treat it quite easily.

As the shoulder blade is connected to the neck, collarbone and shoulder joint, any injury or inflammation in these areas can affect the shoulder blade and cause pain.

Let’s look a little bit closer at the shoulder blade

The scapula, commonly called the shoulder blade is one of two triangular bones in your upper back on each side of the spine.

Around the scapula and attached to it is a network of muscles that support and maintain its position. These muscles make it possible for you to move your arms.

The scapula enables a wide range of movement of the shoulders including:

  • Moving the shoulders forwards.
  • Moving the shoulders backwards.
  • Rotating the shoulders.
  • Lowering the shoulders.
  • Lifting the shoulders.

When an injury or condition weakens or otherwise damages these muscles, the position of the shoulder blade may change. The change in the position or motion is called dyskinesis and is a common cause of shoulder blade pain.


Shoulder blade pain differs from shoulder pain in that it is limited to the scapula or the muscles and ligaments that move and support them.

The symptoms of scapula pain can provide clues as to the underlying cause and might include:

  • Pain that may be dull, sharp, throbbing, aching, burning and could be chronic (persistent) or migrating (moving) in nature.
  • A limited range of movement that makes it difficult to raise your arm above your shoulder.
  • Weakness in the affected arm, especially when attempting overhead movements.
  • A “snapping” sound when you move your shoulder.
  • A tilted posture on the affected side.
  • A visible projection of the scapula (called “winging”).


The cause of shoulder blade pain may be obvious, such as from a sports injury, or it may be hard to identify.

The most common cause of shoulder blade pain involves the muscles controlling the scapula or the connective tissues supporting the scapula. The pain may be isolated to the shoulder blade or accompanied by pain in other muscle groups, such as the shoulder and back.

Muscle strains

These can be as a result of:

  • Poor posture.
  • Heavy lifting.
  • Over exercising.
  • Extended periods hunching over a mobile phone or computer.
  • Poor sleeping position.


This can cause:

  • Shoulder and back muscles to spasm.
  • Tightness of shoulder muscles.
  • Pain in shoulder blades, shoulders, neck and back.

Snapping scapula syndrome

This condition affects the joint that connects the scapula to the ribcage and causes:

  • Popping sounds when the shoulder blade is moved.
  • Pain.

Rotator cuff tears

This is a tear in the tendons that connect the muscles to the bones around the shoulder joint.


This is a poorly understood condition that causes:

  • Pain.
  • Tenderness throughout specific parts of the body.

Myofascial pain syndrome

This is a chronic condition that affects the connective tissues that cover the muscles in various parts of the body.


The most common form of arthritis that causes:

  • Pain can be felt in the scapula.
  • Pain may also be felt in the chest, spine, ribs, or shoulders – known as referred pain.

Spinal stenosis

A condition that results in the narrowing of spaces in the spine which causes:

  • Pain from spinal nerve compression.


This is an age-related condition that causes:

  • Porous bones.
  • Brittle bones.
  • Pain often affecting the upper back and spine.

Degenerative disc disease

This is when one or more of the vertebral discs become compressed and can cause:

  • Referred pain into the neck.
  • Referred pain into the shoulders.


Although this is uncommon, a fracture to this area is possible due to a fall or a high-speed road traffic accident.

Generally speaking, any time that the pain is severe, persistent and occurs for no apparent reason, it would be a good idea to seek medical help as there may be more serious causes of your pain such as:

  • Heart attack.
  • Cancer
  • Blood clot.

How can my Chiropractor help?

Chiropractors treat shoulder blade pain through a variety of methods, but it starts with a full medical case history, orthopaedic and neurological testing to arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Treatment options can include:

  • Chiropractic adjustment of the shoulder blades which aims to reduce pain and restore function. This can help reduce muscle spasms, inflammation and improve mobility.
  • Targeted stretching and strengthening exercises which aims to help strengthen the muscles in the shoulder blade area to improve mobility and reduce pain.
  • Soft tissue therapy such as massage and ultrasound aimed to reduce muscle tension, deal with stress, improve mobility and reduce pain.
  • Postural advice aimed at correcting bad posture helping to reduce the strain on the muscles and joints, which can help reduce pain.

A final note….

Chiropractic treatment is an effective and safe method of treating shoulder blade pain.

It can help to:

  • Reduce pain.
  • Improve mobility.
  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Improve flexibility.

If you are suffering with shoulder blade pain, it may well be worth your while considering seeing your Chiropractor to put you back on the path to wellness!

If you would like some further information or to speak to a member of our team please call us on: Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687, alternatively e-mail us at: or