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There are many reasons why the shoulder blade, also known as the scapula, might flare up, leading to severe pain. Often, prevention of the onset of shoulder pain is not possible and most of the time, pain in the shoulder blade arises as a result of problems not directly concerned with the shoulder blade itself. Some problems with the scapula do occur, but they are rare and usually take the form of infections or tumors. So, what does cause shoulder blade pain? Mainly, referred pain is the cause, usually beginning at the neck area.

Examination and Causes

Should you seek treatment for scapula pain, a doctor will examine areas like the shoulder joint, neck and upper back. In addition, the doctor will likely examine the muscles and nerves of the upper arm. An x-ray or MRI scan might be arranged if a problem is thought to exist in the neck. Sudden pain in the scapula may be an indication of blood vessel or heart problems. Scapula pain can be a symptom of the potential occurrence of a heart attack. If a doctor believes there may be a reason for scapula pain that is related to this, he might schedule a blood test or an MRI or x-ray of the chest.

Occasionally, some forms of cancer can result in pain being felt in the shoulder. Esophogeal and liver cancer are such forms of the disease. In the case of liver cancer, this pain will be felt in between the blades - as with esophageal cancer - or around the right blade.

Gallbladder disease and gallstones are other problems that may cause scapula pain. Normally, stomach pain would be experienced in conjunction with the scapula pain if either of these problems were indeed the cause.

However, many daily activities can lead to scapula pain. Muscle strain, bad sleeping position and factors like tension and stress can all contribute to the development of scapula pain. Old sporting injuries can also lead to a retroactive onset of scapula pain, and further to that, the scapula pain may simply be a result of a current or recent sporting injury - perhaps as a result of under stretching. In addition to this, do not rule out everyday work-related factors or, for women, an over-tightened bra.

Treatment

Treatment will, of course, depend on the nature of the problem. When treating the neck for pain in the scapula, this often results in a quick healing process and a complete recovery. This treatment may take the form of the ingestion of anti-inflammatory or painkilling medication, physiotherapy, chiropractic or osteopathic care, manipulation of the neck or spine and acupuncture.

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