Pain under the shoulder blade


If there is pain under the shoulder blade, those affected suffer from uncomfortable pain on the underside of the shoulder blade. The symptoms can occur on one or both sides and are associated with a different pain character. The sufferers also often suffer from restricted mobility of the affected shoulder blades. Pain under the shoulder blade can have different causes and is often caused by functional causes that are associated with overstrain or tension.

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Therapy of pain under the shoulder blade

The treatment of pain below the shoulder blade depends largely on the underlying cause of the discomfort.

  • Acute injuries in an accident and a heart attack must be treated as an emergency to prevent consequential damage.
  • Muscular complaints such as tension are usually treated with pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or diclofenac, and the affected shoulder must be immobilized and protected.
  • In diseases of the skeletal system or organs such as the liver and gall bladder, therapy of the underlying disease is important. At the same time, the pain can be relieved with pain reliever drugs.

Appointment with a shoulder specialist

I would be happy to advise you!

Who am I?
My name is Carmen Heinz. I am a specialist in orthopedics and trauma surgery in the specialist team of .

The shoulder joint is one of the most complicated joints in the human body.

The treatment of the shoulder (rotator cuff, impingement syndrome, calcified shoulder (tendinosis calcarea, biceps tendon, etc.) therefore requires a lot of experience.
I treat a wide variety of shoulder diseases in a conservative way.
The aim of any therapy is treatment with full recovery without surgery.
Which therapy achieves the best results in the long term can only be determined after looking at all of the information (Examination, X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, etc.) be assessed.

You can find me in:

  • Lumedis - your orthopedic surgeon
    Kaiserstrasse 14
    60311 Frankfurt am Main

Directly to the online appointment arrangement
Unfortunately, it is currently only possible to make an appointment with private health insurers. I hope for your understanding!
You can find more information about myself at Carmen Heinz.

accompanying symptoms

Pain under the shoulder blade can be accompanied by various symptoms, depending on the cause of the discomfort. Typical is the simultaneous occurrence of restricted mobility of the affected shoulder. If the pain is caused by a muscular disorder, lifting your arms or turning your head can make the pain much worse.

With wear-related diseases such as osteoarthritis or pain that comes from the ribs or vertebrae, further complaints are typically to be expected. This means pain that encompasses a larger area of ​​the upper back or the shoulder joint and severe restriction of movement.

In the case of inflammation of the muscles, tendons and / or bursa in the area of ​​the shoulder blade, signs of inflammation such as swelling, warming and reddening can occur, which can be seen / felt more or less well depending on the location. Typically, increased inflammation parameters can be detected in the blood. Traumatic injuries that are accompanied by pain under the shoulder blade usually injure additional structures, so that, depending on the extent of the injury, additional symptoms can occur.

Also read:

  • Shoulder pain in the front
  • Shoulder pain in the back

Liver pain

The liver and gallbladder are organs located in the upper right abdomen. In diseases of these organs, the pain can radiate to the back and especially to the right shoulder. If there is pain in the area of ​​the upper right abdomen in addition to pain under the shoulder blade, the liver should be examined in order to rule out liver or gall bladder disease.

Read about this too: Liver and gallbladder disease

Chest pain

There can be threatening as well as harmless reasons behind shoulder pain in connection with chest pain. Most likely it is a problem of the lungs or heart. If pain suddenly occurs behind the breastbone and in the area of ​​the left shoulder, a heart attack may be behind it. This is typically accompanied by tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and fear of death. Therefore it is very important to see a doctor immediately if chest and shoulder pain occur at the same time.

Everything you should know about this can be found at: Chest pain

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath can be a symptom of pain below the shoulder blade. Possible causes of these symptoms are, for example, a heart attack, biliary colic and traumatic injuries in accidents. Difficulty breathing is a serious symptom that can cause those affected to become very anxious and even have a panic attack. If the pain suddenly kicks in, an immediate visit to the doctor is indicated to rule out serious illnesses.

Read everything on the subject below: Shortness of breath

Pain right

There are several possible causes of pain under the right shoulder blade. Due to their anatomical position in the right upper abdomen, the liver and gallbladder can cause pain in the right upper abdomen, under the right costal arch to the right shoulder blade, as part of inflammation or biliary colic. Liver disease is often associated with loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and possibly even jaundice. These symptoms can also occur as part of biliary colic. With gallbladder and biliary tract diseases, sufferers typically suffer from light-colored fatty stools and dark urine.

Pain on the left

Pain under the left shoulder blade can be due to harmless causes, such as muscle tension, or as part of an injury or inflammation of the anatomical structures. At the same time, a left shoulder pain can also be a warning sign of an acute heart attack. In addition to shoulder pain, chest tightness, pain behind the breastbone, shortness of breath and fear of death are common. The shoulder pain is characteristically sudden shooting and can distract from the chest pain. In the case of left shoulder pain, the person concerned should be examined immediately to rule out a heart attack and angina pectoris (tight chest).

Read our articles on this: Symptoms of a heart attack or angina pectoris - you should know that

Causes of pain under the shoulder blade

  • Muscular tension is a common cause of pain in the shoulder area and below the shoulder blade. Different muscles can be affected. The subscapularis muscle is a muscle that runs just below the shoulder blade. The rhomboids (musculi rhomboideii), the trapezius muscle (musculus trapezius) and the rotator cuff, a muscle group that includes three other muscles in addition to the subscapularis muscle, also run in close proximity.

Read our articles on this: Muscle Tension - All you need to know or exercises for muscle tension in the shoulder

  • However, irritation and inflammation of the tendons and the bursa can also cause pain under the shoulder blade.
  • The pain can also be triggered by bony structures, the ribs and vertebrae. Both osteoarthritis of the joint and a herniated disc in the cervical spine are possible causes of pain under the shoulder blade.
  • In addition, organs such as the heart, liver and gallbladder can cause pain that radiates below the shoulder blade.
  • Occasionally, pain under the shoulder blade is caused by injuries in an accident. Broken bones and injuries to muscles, tendons, and ligaments are possible consequences that can cause severe pain.

Also read about osteoarthritis:

  • Pain in the shoulder blade - these are the causes
  • Osteoarthritis of the shoulder
  • Osteoarthritis of the shoulder
  • Symptoms of shoulder osteoarthritis

Diagnosis of pain under the shoulder blade

In order for the attending physician to be able to correctly diagnose pain under the shoulder blade, a detailed medical discussion about the symptoms and the temporal course of the symptoms is advisable. The affected person should be given a thorough physical examination. Depending on the doctor's suspected diagnosis, further examinations such as X-rays or an ultrasound examination of the upper abdomen may be helpful.

Duration of complaints under the shoulder blade

Pain under the shoulder blade can last for different periods of time.

  • Acute injuries, a heart attack, and shoulder pain from biliary colic occur suddenly and go away with appropriate treatment.
  • If the symptoms are based on muscle tension or irritation of tendons, ligaments or bursae, targeted treatment is important in order to positively influence the healing process. Those affected should take physically pleasing, pain relieving, anti-inflammatory tablets. Muscle tension can resolve within a few days, while bursitis can last a few weeks. If left untreated, bursitis can become chronic and cause discomfort for months.


The prognosis depends on the cause of the symptoms and the treatment. Well treated, muscle tension, inflammation of the bursa or tendons go hand in hand with a very good prognosis.

In the case of a heart attack, the timing of treatment has a huge impact on the prognosis. The sooner the better. If the cause lies in the organs of the upper abdomen, such as the liver and gallbladder, the treatment of the underlying disease is decisive for the course of the disease.