Pain under right shoulder blade can be a temporary symptom or it may be a symptom of some underlying disorder. Some of the common causes of pain under right shoulder blade are listed below:
Minor causes of pain under right shoulder blade
- Sitting in front of the computer for long hours and working continuously can sometimes result in pain under right shoulder blade. Sitting at an abnormal distance from the computer away from the keyboard and continuous use of the mouse usually trigger such shoulder pain.
- Carrying anything heavy such as backpacks, heavy handbags, etc., either on a daily basis or for prolonged periods can also cause right shoulder blade pain.
- Another common cause is carrying a child across the right shoulder for prolonged periods.
- Incorrect sitting posture, such as leaning or slouching, etc. can strain the muscles which may eventually trigger the occurrence of pain under right shoulder blade. Muscle strain and subsequent pain may also occur due to incurred sleeping positions or posture.
- Athletes may experience shoulder pain due to muscle injuries which may have occurring while playing sports.
Major/serious causes of pain under right shoulder blade
Pain under right shoulder blade may also occur due to the presence of serious underlying disorders. Some such common causes are listed below:
- Conditions of the gallbladder: Gallbladder diseases and gallstones are major causes of pain under right shoulder blade. In most cases, any kind of gallbladder problem, including gallstones which block bile flow, tend to cause pain in the right section of the upper abdominal region. However, sometimes this pain may radiate upwards towards the shoulders, especially the right shoulder. The associated pain may be mild or intense and may have a sudden onset. Pain due to gallstones persist for about 10 minutes to an hour or two. Once the pain subsides, patients may not experience it for many weeks or months at a stretch. Gallstone-related pain typically occurs after eating a fat-rich heavy meal. In addition to shoulder pain, severe gallbladder dysfunction may occur along with nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and sweating.
- Heart attack: Heart attack symptoms in men include pain in shoulders while female patients may experience pain between the shoulder blades. This however by itself cannot be considered as a symptom of cardiac arrest. Additional symptoms include vomiting, nausea, increased sweating, dizziness, pain in left side of chest, and breathlessness. Such cases need immediate emergency care.
- Liver disorders: Liver abscess, liver cancer, and other liver diseases can also cause pain under right shoulder pain. When liver cancer metastasizes and spreads to other areas, then shoulder pain is one of the most common symptoms. Additional symptoms of liver cancer include occurrence of a hard lump in the abdomen, discomfort in the upper right abdomen, jaundice, and abdominal swelling and fullness. Liver abscess caused due to infection by bacteria or other germs can also cause pain in the shoulder area. The pathogens adversely affect the health of the liver and cause a big hole in the organ by destroying its cells, thereby triggering pain. As the liver is situated just under the rib cage, liver pain from the abdomen can easily spread to the shoulder area. Additional symptoms of liver abscess include jaundice, fever, and flu-like symptoms.
- Arthritis: Arthritis of the shoulder joint is another common cause of pain under right shoulder blade. Rheumatoid arthritis as well as osteoarthritis can cause pain in left or right shoulders or both. The former is an auto-immune disease while the latter occurs due to age-associated joint cartilage degeneration. In addition to pain in and around the shoulder area, arthritis may also cause symptoms like restricted movement of the arms, difficulties in lifting the arms, and stiffness, etc. The symptoms can be alleviated with medications.
- Breast cancer: Pain in the shoulder area is one of the first signs of the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body. Women with metastasis of cancer of the right breast are most likely to experience pain under right shoulder blade. Hence, women in the high-risk group for breast cancer should immediately undergo testing for breast cancer if they experience any kind of pain in the shoulder region.
- Other causes: Muscle spasms, pinched nerve, muscle strain, shoulder dislocation, sprain, esophageal cancer, and neck injury or other neck problems are some of the other conditions that can cause pain under right shoulder blade.
Treatment of pain under right shoulder blade
As mentioned above, pain under right shoulder blade may occur due to mild causes or severe underlying diseases. It is therefore imperative for patients to visit a doctor for diagnosis whenever they experience any kind of pain in the shoulder area.
- For minor pain, doctors may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or other pain killers. Doctors may also suggest the RICE treatment option, i.e., rest, ice, compress, and elevation for alleviation of the symptoms.
- Breast cancer and other cancers are treated via surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.