Shoulder Blade Pain: How to Identify, Relieve, and Prevent It

Shoulder Blade Pain: How to Identify, Relieve, and Prevent It


Shoulder blade or scapular pain refers to the discomfort, aching or feeling sore between the shoulder blades. It may get intense during certain daily life activities such as lifting an arm to any object, turning your head sideways, etc. 


If it happens to you occasionally, then there is nothing to worry about as it’ll go away on its own. However, if shoulder blade pain is occurring more frequently, it might signal a serious health issue.


To prevent serious health issues, let’s identify the cause of your shoulder pain and look into its relief methods and prevention tips.


Causes

 

a woman representing good posture and bad posture

 

There’s a number of reasons that you may experience shoulder pain. But you can identify the leading cause as it gets noticeable while performing certain activities in your daily life. Some of them may include:


1. Heavy Lifting


Sometimes heavy lifting causes certain muscles of your shoulder to feel intense pressure, and your body reacts to it by a spiking pain on your shoulder blade. It may even cost you not lifting a heavy object for a very long time.


It is recommended to see a doctor if the pain prolongs. It’ll help you to avoid worsening your shoulder’s muscle strains or tearing.


2. Poor Posture


If you have a sedentary lifestyle, long working hours while sitting in one place, or sleeping in an uncomfortable position, you are bound to have shoulder pain due to poor posture. 


Poor posture makes your muscles static that cause you discomfort, and eventually, you begin to feel pain in your back and shoulder blades. You may also feel pain due to bad posture while sleeping, leading to static muscles.


3. Muscle Overuse, Injury Or Fracture


You might experience shoulder blade pain due to the kind of activities you do. If you are a sporty person or your job requires physical labour, you might feel pain because of the overuse of the rotator cuff. 


While other reasons may include any scapular injury or fracture that have caused trauma during some accident, leaving intense pain whenever your shoulder muscles are active.


4. Signs Of Severe Medical Conditions


However, shoulder blade pain may be a warning for severe medical conditions, such as:


  • Degenerative disc – Related to aged conditions that deteriorate spine.
  • Herniated disc – A disk in the spine ruptures, slips or cracks.
  • Scoliosis – Sideways curves in the spine that may happen before reaching puberty.
  • Osteoarthritis – Arthritis occurs when flexible tissue in your bones wears down, usually in the joints around your neck, spine, or ribs.
  • Spinal stenosis – Puts pressure on the spinal cord along the nerves within. 
  • Acid reflux – Heartburn, pancreatitis or peptic ulcer.
  • Fibromyalgia – Pain muscles accompanied by sleep, fatigue, memory loss and mood swing issues.
  • Shingles – A chickenpox virus, causing painful rashes and shoulder pain.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) – Muscles pain due to its overuse.
  • Certain cancers – Such as lung cancer, bone cancer, or other cancers spread to bones and near shoulder blades.
  • Nerve compression syndrome – Direct pressure on the nerves on or around the shoulder blade.
  • Heart attack or other diseases – Sudden spike recurrent pain in the shoulder blade, especially among women.
  • Gallstone – Stones in the gallbladder, often followed by pain in the upper right part of abdomen and nausea.
  • Thoracic aorta rupture – Aortic dissection due to the blood surges through the inner and middle layers of the aorta, causing it to separate and tear blood vessels near your heart.
  • Pulmonary embolism – Blood clot breaks free and enters into lungs, causing a decrease in oxygen level and permanent damage.
  • Other accompanying signs – Such as chest pain, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, swelling in your legs, coughing up blood, fever, sudden vision loss, speaking difficulty, losing conscious or irregular heartbeat may also occur. 

All of these signs indicate severe and severe medical conditions that are life-threatening. You must seek emergency treatment from a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.


Shoulder Blade Pain Relief Options

 

a woman doing exercise

 

If your pain is not frequent and bearable, then it might be chronic shoulder blade pain, and you might be able to treat it without getting any emergency treatment. 


After making sure that your condition is not one of the warning signs of any serious medical condition, you can follow some of the shoulder blade pain relief techniques, which are:


1. Exercise


Exercises can help you strengthen, relax your back muscles, and ultimately relieve you from shoulder blade pain. Physical activity such as stretching improves blood circulation to your muscles and joints, which often provides pain relief. 


One of the top and easiest exercises that you perform at home are arm stretches. You may cross one arm over your body, use the other arm to grab and pull your outstretched arm from the elbow toward your chest, then hold this stretch for about five to ten seconds. However, you can also look into other exercises or ask your physician about them.


2. Diet and Routine


Some processed foods, such as high-fructose sugar, artificial trans fats, refined carbohydrates, or processed meat, could cause inflammation, making your symptoms worse. Try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in omega-3 fatty acids to avoid inflammation.


Sometimes all you need is to rest to recover from your shoulder blade pain, especially if you have an injury or a fracture due to some accident.


3. Hot or Cold Compresses


Applying hot or cold compresses on your tight or tense shoulder blade for about ten to fifteen minutes could help you to relieve discomfort and pain. You can keep the compresses till the swelling or pain is reduced.


Compresses are generally good techniques to relax muscles, but be careful as the temperature may vary depending on your applying environment.


4. Massage Or Occupational Therapy


If the pain is caused due to the overuse of muscles or joints, then a massage therapist can work on the problem areas to relax muscle tissue.


However, you might need to see an occupational therapist if you have an injury on your shoulder blade, as it will require certain exercises to relieve you from your shoulder pain.


5. Medications


Medications such as ibuprofen and paracetamol are prevalent for short time pain relieves. Sometimes, anti-inflammatory or anti-depressants are also recommended by doctors depending on your health conditions.


In some cases, doctors may prescribe pain killer injections or pills to reduce your shoulder blade pain. However, every drug has its limitations, so do not take any medication without consulting your doctor.


6. Surgery


If you are experiencing severe pain and no other treatment works for your shoulder blade pain, then there is a chance that your shoulder may be imbalanced and requires surgery to adjust the position of the scapula.


However, most Orthopaedic Surgeons first recommend nonsurgical options for their patients. Also, conducts few tests to confirm the root cause of the pain. Then they proceed with the surgery of your shoulder blade.


Prevention Tips For Shoulder Blade Pain


Aside from knowing the cause and treatment options, few practices can help you avoid or reduce your shoulder blade pain. 


A few of them are:


  • A healthy diet and physical activity – Take a healthy diet that strengthens your bones and doesn’t cause inflammation. Make sure that your diet food must contain the necessary amount of vitamin D and calcium.
  • Practice proper posture – Avoid slouching, leaning, or uncomfortable posture. Use special pillows for your back to sit tall and straight when working. It will help your neck and spine alignment.
  • Avoid lifting heavy items – Don’t carry heavy weight with your one shoulder as it may lead to injury and trigger intense pain on your shoulder blades. Still, if you need to do the heavy lifting, then be sure not to put too much pressure on your back and do it with proper posture while using both shoulders and bending knees.
  • Change positions – Changing your position frequently helps you to avoid getting your muscles stiff. So stretch from time to time when you’re working for long hours in the same position. Also, try to sleep in a comfortable place to change your position with ease while sleeping.
  • Follow healthy habits – Take complete rest, sleep at least seven to nine hours based on your age requirement. Avoid too much smoking and, if possible, quit it. Maintain a healthy lifestyle as it can help you avoid or manage your shoulder blade pain.

To Conclude


Most of the time, the shoulder blade pain is temporary due to our lifestyle choices. So, there is much we can do to prevent this pain.


Knowing the root cause of your shoulder blade pain will help you diagnose your health’s exact condition and avoid life-threatening medical situations. However, if the pain doesn’t go away with the mild treatment options, you must see a doctor for better health care.

 

Scabies: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Scabies: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

 

Have you ever noticed your itch getting more intense at night? Did you experience this severe itching after you visited a nursing home? If that’s the case, then chances can be that you are infected with “Sarcoptes scabiei.” 


Sarcoptes scabiei is a microscopic mite that is famous for causing scabies. Anyone can contract this contagious disease, but it has a higher prevalence in urban areas and greater frequency during the winter season.


This blog post will cover everything related to scabies and help you understand this medical condition closely — so let’s get into it!

 

About Scabies 


Scabies is a skin infection caused by the burrowing action of a female parasite. The mites burrow and lay eggs into the skin that later mature into adults, and the process repeats.


It is characterised by:


  • Intense itching (pruritus)
  • Secondary infection (usually by Streptococcus pyogenes or Staphylococcus aureus)
  • Pimple-like rash
  • Superficial burrows

Keep in mind that mites are often confused with lice — which is not the case. Lice live on the skin and are often associated with areas that grow hair, i.e., the scalp or pubic area. In comparison, mites dig into the skin (burrowing) and cause infection.


Life Cycle 

 

scabies life cycle

 

Before discussing further medical aspects of scabies, it would be better to start with the fundamental understanding of how Sarcoptes scabiei wreaks havoc on an individual.


We have tried to summarise its life cycle in a few points that are as follows:


  1. Adult female parasites dig into the skin and lay 2-3 eggs daily.
  2. In about 3-4 days, eggs finally hatch into their larval form.
  3. The larvae then travel to the skin and further dig into the moulting pouches (smaller burrows as compared to adult burrows).
  4. Transformation of the larva into nymphs occurs, which finally transforms into adult mites.
  5. Mating occurs when male mites enter the moulting pouches.
  6. The impregnated female leaves the moulting pouch in search of a permanent burrow. 
  7. Once the burrow is decided, she continues to lay eggs, and the process repeats itself.

Causes and Transmission


Scabies is a parasitic infection and can only be caused by Sarcoptes Scabiei. However, certain factors can promote the transmission of this mite and may lead to this disease. 


How Does Scabies Occur?


  1. Skin-to-skin contact – establishing a direct connection with someone (touching) who has contracted scabies.
  2. Sexual contact – having a sexual relationship with someone suffering from scabies.
  3. Transfer from bedding, towels, and clothing – using someone’s toiletries.

Exposure to this mite is also most common in nursing homes, daycares, and hospitals. Moreover, it must be considered that transmission only occurs as long as the person is infected and untreated.


Symptoms  


There are a few symptoms that are specific to scabies. If an individual is suffering from any of these symptoms, chances are they are a victim of this parasite. 


Let’s take a look at the manifestations of this disease for better understanding:


  1. Pimple-like rash or burrows between fingers, wrist, elbows, armpits, female breasts (specifically on the skin of nipples), umbilical area, scrotum, penis, buttocks, beltline and on the inside of legs and ankles.
  2. Erythematous (hot & red) skin.
  3. Severe itching (pruritus), especially at night.
  4. Secondary infection.

It takes about 2-6 weeks for the symptoms to appear after getting infected with Sarcoptes scabiei for the first time. However, in cases of reinfection, the symptoms may take 1-4 days to appear, and they are usually milder in nature.


Treatment Of Scabies

 

over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream

 

Want to hear the good news? It is a curable disease.

While we encourage you to seek professional help, we have also found some treatments that work:


Topical Scabicides


The most common treatment, which is safe for babies as young as one-year-old and pregnant women, are topical scabicides. They are available as 5% permethrin cream and are easy to apply and wash off.


  • Apply a thin layer on your entire body while paying particular attention to the skin folds.
  • Trim your fingernails and apply under the nails for a maximum of 8 hours. It is preferable to follow the guidelines given on the product.
  • Wash it off with lukewarm soap water and dry your skin.

Additional Treatment Options


Some other scabies treatment options are centred towards conservative management, and they can also be prescribed to the patient. 


Some of them are as follows:


  1. Antihistamines: To control the itch and help you sleep.
  2. Antibiotic: To fight off secondary infection.
  3. Pramoxine lotion: To control the itch.
  4. Steroid cream: To ease the redness, irritation, and swelling.

How To Prevent The Spread Of This Disease?

 

woman taking a shower

 

In order to protect ourselves from this disease, it is essential to know how to control it. There are several beneficial ways to protect ourselves from falling prey to scabies. Some of them include: 


  1. Educating the patient about the importance of personal hygiene. 
  2. Increasing awareness about the prevalence of this medical problem. 
  3. Educating the family members of the patient. 
  4. Encouraging the patient to shower frequently. 
  5. Instructing the patient to change his clothes regularly. 

Summing Up


While scabies is a treatable disease with complete recovery, it is painful. Because it directly affects the quality of your sleep and causes severe itching, it can prove to be a pretty disturbing and uncomfortable medical condition.


In order to protect yourself from scabies, you should maintain personal hygiene at all times. Besides keeping yourself clean, it is also essential to regularly wash your bedding and not share your personal items, such as towels, combs, etc.


If you suspect that you might be suffering from scabies, it is never too late to seek medical help. After all, better late than never, right?