As a back pain expert, Dr. James Nassiri of Westside Pain Specialists sees plenty of different types of pain. Pain under the shoulder blades may not be as common as neck or lower back problems, but it still affects many people at various points in their lives, and for widely varying reasons.
Like many other sources of pain, you might experience pain from muscle strain, posture, and other musculoskeletal injuries that create symptoms under the shoulder blades. More serious conditions can include heart and spine issues.
We’ve prepared a review of five possible causes of pain felt under your shoulder blades.
1. Cardiac issues
Heart attacks may include pain felt under the shoulder blade, particularly in women. Symptoms of a heart attack often differ between women and men. As well as shoulder blade symptoms, chest pain and shortness of breath may occur simultaneously.
The aorta, a large blood vessel that connects with the heart, can rupture or tear, causing sudden, sharp pain in your upper mid-back, in the shoulder blade area. This is a medical emergency requiring a 911 call and immediate attention.
Pulmonary embolisms result when blood clots that form in the veins of the legs break loose and travel to the lungs. Also a medical emergency, pulmonary embolisms cause breathing difficulties accompanied by severe and sudden pain between the shoulder blades.
2. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Also known commonly as heartburn, acid reflux can produce shoulder blade pain that resembles that of a heart attack. It will likely accompany upper chest symptoms.
Sufferers of GERD, a more serious form of acid reflux, report that heartburn pain is sharp and in the central chest. Those who survive heart attacks describe their pain as dull and heavy, slightly to the left of their central chest.
3. Bad posture
Long hours of sitting at a workstation or with your head bent forward to view handheld digital devices can cause back pain at or beneath shoulder blade height. Without attention to strengthening your support muscles, prolonged posture issues can cause permanent changes to the spine that might lead to chronic pain issues.
4. Herniated disc
When a spinal disc ruptures, the distorted shape of the herniated disc may press against nerve tissue, causing pain at the site of injury or anywhere along the path of the root nerve. Discs in the lower cervical spine can create pain symptoms at the bottom of your shoulder blades.
Compression fractures resulting from osteoporosis and other conditions of the spine can create similar issues.
5. Dislocated ribs
While rib dislocation is less common, repetitive strain and reaching injuries can cause sharp pain around a shoulder blade. Pain symptoms could accompany the feeling of being unable to draw a full breath. A rib may pop out of place or cause problems due to misalignment.
These and other reasons can cause pain under your shoulder blades. When it begins to interfere with your daily life, contact Westside Pain Specialists in Beverly Hills or Rancho Cucamonga, California, for a consultation.
Call our nearest office directly to schedule an appointment. We can help with most sources of pain, so book your visit today.