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Pain under the Right Shoulder Blade

There is a common saying that the most common denominator among all patients in a hospital ward is a pain. Pain is the major symptoms that bring people to the hospital wards. The human body contains different nerve endings and sensory innervations to illustrate the type, source, and location of a pain. There are several pain nerve endings located throughout the body.

The location of the pain could give a big hint of the etiology and possible treatment for a particular medical condition.  Shoulder pain could occur as a result of inflammation within the scapular or a referred pain from other parts of the body. The shoulder blade pain could be unilateral or bilateral. The etiology of both left and right shoulder paint could be similar or different depending on the source of the disease.

Before we start talking about the signs and symptoms of pain in the shoulder blade, we need to what is shoulder blade? The shoulder blade is a part of the body medically referred to as the scapular is a triangular bone located the superior-posterior part of our back.It is more visible when the elbow is extended or the back contracted.

Causes of Pain under the Right Shoulder Blade

There are different etiology of pain under the shoulder blade ranging from muscle sprain to infections and inflammations. The most frequent etiology of pain under the right shoulder blade includes:

  1. Musculoskeletal: This is the type of pain under the right should cause by muscular sprain or diseases of musculoskeletal origin. There are different musculoskeletal causes of pain under the right scapular such as poor sleeping position, new training routine, rotator cuff tear or muscular injury. Cancerous cells spreading from other regions of the body could also cause this types of pain
  2. Bony etiology: fracture of surrounding bones such as spinal cord and ribs could cause pain under the right shoulder blade. These types of paints are referred pain transferred from broken or damaged surrounding bony structures. Different medical conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis could affect the bony configuration of the scapular leading to consistent irreversible pain. Nerve compression can also present with symptoms such as pain under the right shoulder blade and limb numbness.
  3. Cardiac-related etiologies: cardiac-related diseases such as heart attack, aortic dissection, and pericarditis have been linked to pain under the right scapula. This types of pains are often referred pain radiating to the scapula region form the cardiac
  4. Pulmonary Etoligies: There are different types of pulmonary diseases that cause referred pain under the right shoulder blade. Pancoast a tumor is a pulmonary carcinoma that occurs in the superior portion of the lungs. This type of cancer can cause referred pain in the right shoulder blade. A pulmonary embolus is a medical condition in which a thrombus breaks away from the leg and travels to the lungs. These types of conditions causes referred pain the right lower shoulder blade. The collapse of the lungs commonly referred to as pneumothorax is one of the most frequent ecologies of referred pain to the right shoulder blade. Pneumonia, lung bleeding, and pulmonary abscess are the most common cause pulmonary related right shoulder pain.
  5. Infection: Shingle is a medical condition that causes right shoulder blade pain along the nerve endings. This type of pain is often described as tingling or burning pain in the scapular. The rash is the pathognomic sign for diagnosing shingles but the pain precedes the rash which makes the diagnosis more difficult. Chickenpox is the most prevalent predisposing factor for
  6. Gastrointestinal and pelvic etiologies: Irritation of the diaphragm’s nerve ending could cause right shoulder blade pain. Gastro-intestinal disease such as peptic ulcer, gallstones, and liver diseases could cause right shoulder blade pain.
  7. Nephrological Pain: The position of the right kidney in relation to the right shoulder blade makes it the most frequent source of referred Tumor, infection, and gallstones are the most frequent cause of referred kidney pain. There are some basic symptoms of differentiating or identifying kidney referred pain. Referred pain due to kidney tumor is continuous and increases with time. Gallstone pain doesn’t get worse with movement. Pain due to infection is usually constant and gets worse when the doctor taps your back with his fist.
  8. Abdominal etiology: Ruptured pancreatic and kidney aneurysm can cause pain in the right shoulder blade. Nerve dermographism for the gallbladder, liver, and shoulder blade are from the same origin. This is the basic reason for gallbladder and liver pain to be felt under the right shoulder There are different symptomatic ways to differentiate between gallbladder and liver conditions. Gallbladder conditions are often associated with gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Liver abscesses and tumors can also cause referred pain under the right shoulder blade but not accompanied by nausea, vomiting or food.
  9.  Cholecystitis: This is the inflammation of the gallbladder which can send impulses to the brain to stimulate pain nerve endings on the right shoulder. The pain due to cholecystitis is a duct obstruction induced spasm of the gallbladder. The pain occurs as a result of bile duct spasm due to
  10. Acute Pancreatitis: This is the inflammation of the pancreas that occurs over the duration of 6 months or less. Acute pancreatic pain is often referred to the right hypochondria and right shoulder blade.

Treatment of Pain under the Right Shoulder Blade

Treating pain under the right shoulder pain could very tricky and difficult because the etiology of most shoulder pain is not from the scapula. Self-diagnosis could be dangerous and difficult in this particular scenario. The best and most effective treatment is to consult a doctor for general examination and diagnosis.

The medical Doctor would conduct general examination and diagnosis, narrow down the etiology to one or more diseases. Based on the diagnosis, you might be referred to a different specialist such as nephrologist, traumatologist, gastroenterologist, and cardiologist.

Pain under the right shoulder blade is a very common medical condition that could arise from different etiologies. When you feel pain in your right shoulder blade, contact the nearest doctor especially when accompanied by fever, nausea a vomiting or other symptoms.

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PATTERSON, R. (2018). Causes of Pain in the Back Below the Right Shoulder Blade. [online] LIVESTRONG.COM. Available at: [Accessed 8 Jan. 2018].