A pinched nerve in the shoulder blade can cause pain and discomfort near the upper back, between shoulder blades and behind your neck. Here are the symptoms of a pinched nerve between and under shoulder blades, treatments and home remedies.
Pinched nerve in shoulder blade is a common condition. It is also a temporary one, but one that has the potential to cause you a lot of pain and discomfort. The condition occurs when excessive pressure gets applied to the tissues that are surrounding this nerve.
- In your shoulder blade, this kind of pressure may be a result of a trapped or compressed nerve, which then obstructs the normal transmission of signals traveling from your brain to this nerve.
- Some of the collective areas where the nerves are likely to be pinched include in your carpal tunnel, the upper thigh, the elbow, the knee, your shoulder blade, and the neck region.
- Note that a pinched nerve in back and shoulder blade tends to be quite different from tennis elbows.
- With tennis elbows, the pain you experience comes about because of elbow tendons inflammation, and not from the nerve being compressed.
Even though a pinched nerve under shoulder blade is not considered to be a life-threatening condition by physicians, it has been to known to affect the eminence of life of the injured person significantly. It should, therefore, be checked out by your physician as soon as possible.
Table of Contents
- What is a pinched nerve?
- Causes of a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade area
- Symptoms of a pinched nerve in shoulder blade
- Areas affected
- Treatments for pinched nerve in shoulder blade
- Home remedies for a pinched nerve in shoulder blade
- Exercises to relieve nerve pain in shoulder blades
- Article Resources
What is a pinched nerve?
A pinched nerve between shoulder blades comes about when excess pressure is exerted to your nerve from the tissues that are surrounding it e.g. tendons, cartilage, muscles, or bones. The pressure that has been exerted on the nerve results, in the end, disrupts its functions, which then leads to a person experience weakness, pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation.
Even though the pinched nerve can occur in any part of the body, the most painful one is under and between shoulder blades. It is known as the carpal tunnel syndrome as it not only affects the shoulder blades, but it can travel down your wrist all the way to your hands and fingers, which leads to additional discomfort.
However, the good news is that with conservative treatments and enough rest, you should be able to recover from a pinched nerve in right shoulder blade within a few weeks. In some cases, you may need to undergo a corrective surgery so as to relieve the pain being experienced from the pinched nerve in neck and shoulder blade areas.
Causes of a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade area
There are numerous causes of a pinched nerve in shoulder area, which include the following:
1. Inflammation or swelling
It is common for pinched nerves to form when the surrounding tissues begin to cause a compression on this critical nerve. For instance, the carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a pinched nerve is present in your wrist region. In turn, this leads to the inflammation of all the surrounding ligaments and tendons. Inflammation and swelling can also be caused by:
- Poor posture
- Repetitive stress
Injuries are another major cause of pinched nerve in back shoulder blade. It is possible for your blades to become pinched in between the bone spurs that surround your spinal discs.
A bone spur is a little bone outgrowth, which often grows atop the normal bones, but in some cases may occur naturally as your spine starts to compress due to age related issues.
Arthritis, lupus, hypothyroidism, and diabetes are just some of the conditions, which could trigger inflammation of your joints resulting in pinched nerves under shoulder blades. Also, an obstruction such as the presence of a tumor or cyst could also play a part in the formation of the pinched nerve.
4. Poor posture
Poor weight distribution and posture may also result in undue pressure being placed on the nerves that are located in shoulder blades. It is a factor that can be attributed to pregnancy, posture habits, a woman having large breasts, and even obesity.
5. Medical conditions
Medical conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can with time damage your nerves. For instance, osteoarthritis compresses your nerves, and this increases your chances of getting a pinched nerve between shoulder blades.
Symptoms of a pinched nerve in shoulder blade
Given how signals get transmitted in the human body, a pinched nerve in the right shoulder blade can lead to symptoms occurring in other parts of your body.
In case you are concerned that you could have developed a pinched nerve, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
1. Pain between shoulder blades
When you have a pinched nerve in your neck, you could experience a shooting, burning, or throbbing pain. The pain could be because of the nerve that has been compressed or be from the muscle spasms found in the shoulder blades, which often accompany them.
Pain caused by this condition will often appear to be traveling or radiating along a single side of your body.
Another symptom of pinched nerves in the shoulder blades is weakened arms and shoulders. The nerves typically affect the operations of your body muscles, and a pinched nerve in the shoulder area is likely to affect the shoulders and the blades as well. The condition makes it daunting for you to raise your arms or even lift objects above your head.
When you have a weakness in mobility or grip, it is likely to affect the entire arm or a single hand, depending on the particular nerve that has been affected.
The needles and pin sensations of limbs that have fallen asleep are common when essential nerves in your body have become compressed. The experience is known as paresthesia, and it may at times be accompanied by a feeling of numbness along the region that is affected.
The location and frequency of your pinched nerve in shoulder blade symptoms will depend on:
- What could be causing the pinched nerve
- The severity of the condition
- The particular nerve that has been affected by the compression
The symptoms experienced when you have a pinched nerve in back shoulder blade could appear and vanish as quickly as they come, come in waves, or they could have an ongoing presence.
When you have a pinched nerve behind shoulder blade, some of the areas that are likely to be affected by the nerve compression will include:
Pinched nerve under the shoulder blade
In some cases, the pinched under the shoulder blade is caused by a condition known as TOS (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome).
It is a problem that comes about when the nerve bundles behind your lower neck become compressed by the soft tissues that are in the shoulder region.
If for instance, you find that the symptoms being experienced reduce when you walk around or pull the shoulders back, it could mean that your sitting posture may be the main problem and cause.
In such a case, rounding the shoulders and slouching is what contributes to bad posture. You should, therefore request your therapist to conduct an evaluation of your sitting posture and provide you with suggestions on how you can make improvements.
Using an ice pack in the area can assist in diminishing the symptoms that you are experiencing.
Nerve pain between shoulder blades
Multiple nerves exit your tract and neck through the upper region of your body. As such, there are nerves, which travel between your shoulder blades in an attempt to control muscle movements or sense sensations. Sometimes, these nerves could become pinched either by tense muscles or by the bones surrounding them.
The condition is known as peripheral neuropathy. It has been known to cause:
- Numbness between shoulder blades
If you suspect that you have a pinched nerve between your shoulder blades, you need to visit with your physician for a proper diagnosis. The physician will then be able to recommend the next steps to be taken.
Near the back, right shoulder and behind the neck
There are a number of conditions, which can lead to a pinched nerve near the back, right shoulder and behind the neck. According to AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the pinched nerve could be caused by the abnormalities in your soft tissues, ligaments, and muscles, along with your joints and spinal bones.
In some cases, you will only experience pain on one side, which then radiates to your back, and behind the neck. The shoulder and neck pain experienced as a result of the pinched nerve may be mild moderate, or severe, as it is dependent on the factors causing the pinched nerve.
Treatments for pinched nerve in shoulder blade
The duration taken for the pinched nerve in shoulder blade symptoms to end often varies from person to person. As such, the treatment will also vary depending on the cause and severity of your nerve compression.
Some people get many benefits from resting the area that is injured as well as avoiding any strenuous activities that may worsen the pinched nerve in shoulder blade symptoms. In most cases, this is all that is required of you. If your symptoms become severe or the pain persists, you should make an appointment with a physical therapist.
There are cases where a person may need to undergo more than a single treatment to eliminate the swollen tissue surrounding this highly sensitive nerve.
For severe cases, it may become necessary to make sure that the material pressing this nerve down has been removed. The materials may include:
- Disc material
- Scar tissue
- Bone pieces
Below are treatment options that you can follow to obtain relief from a pinched nerve in back and shoulder area.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs e.g. ibuprofen or aspirin. The medication assists in reducing the swelling on your shoulder blades.
- Narcotics—this should only be used for a brief duration. Their main purpose is to help you deal with the severe pain.
- Physical therapy—is aimed at strengthening and stretching your muscles
- Surgery—is often used when the condition is severe, and which has refused to respond to all the other methods of treatment.
- Splint—is a soft collar that limits your motions and allows your muscles to rest for brief durations
- Steroid injections—can assist in reducing inflammation and swelling allow the nerves that had become inflamed to begin the recovery process.
It is best to work with your physical therapist and primary care physician to determine the best approach for treating the pinched nerve under shoulder blade.
Home remedies for a pinched nerve in shoulder blade
As mentioned above, there are cases of pinched nerve behind shoulder blades, which could require the help of a qualified physician to treat. However, if you would prefer to reduce or eliminate the mild pain and accompanying symptoms at home, there are certain readily available and effective remedies that you can try out. What you need to do is find the best remedy for you, although some can be used to deal with a pinched nerve in right shoulder blade at the same time.
1. Make adjustments to your pose
You may be required to make changes to how you stand or sit in order to relieve the pain from the compressed nerve. For this, you have to find a good position that assists in making you feel better. Once this is done, ensure you spend as much time in that position as possible.
2. Utilize standing workstations
Over the years, standing workstations have been gaining a lot of popularity, and for excellent reasons. Standing and mobility throughout the course of your day to day activities are vital in preventing and curing pinched nerve in neck area.
In case you happen to have a compressed nerve, or would like to avoid getting one altogether, you should talk to your HR department about having your workstation modified, which would allow you to stand as you perform your tasks. In case this option is not available, you must ensure that you stand and walk around after every one hour.
It does not matter where the pinched nerve is located, as the ideal thing for you to do is to try and rest for as long as you can. Try and avoid the tasks or activities that are contributing to the pain e.g. texting, playing golf or tennis.
You should rest until these symptoms have been resolved completely. After a while, start moving around, making sure that you pay attention to the parts of your body that were painful. If this pain returns, stop what you are doing and take another rest.
For people who have carpal tunnel, the splint may be the ideal home remedy for them as it helps them rest, while at the same time providing protection to their wrists. Splints can be very helpful at night, as they ensure that you do not curl your wrist into a wrong position while asleep.
5. Heat application
Heat can be used to relax the muscles that may have become tight in the around the pinched nerve in shoulder area. Additionally, the heat will assist in improving the flow of blood in your body, which can greatly aid the healing process. Heating pads are available in different sizes at the local drug stores.
Performing a gentle stretch can assist in relieving the pressure that has been applied to your nerve, which will, in turn, improve the symptoms being experienced.
But, you need to take care to ensure that you do not go too deep into the stretch as it may worsen the symptoms. Immediately you start experiencing some discomfort or pain, ease on the stretches. You need to always keep in mind that small movements have the potential to have a tremendous impact.
Exercises to relieve nerve pain in shoulder blades
You can perform certain simple, but highly effective exercises, which will provide you with relief from the discomfort and suffering that comes from having a pinched nerve. It is important to consult a physical therapist before you start performing any exercises. The therapist will provide recommendations on the exercises that you should be performing, after looking at the inflammation.
Range of motion workouts
- If you are seated, begin by standing up and stretching out the affected arm towards the front part of your body
- Confirm that your elbow is not tilted
- Slowly extend the affected arm towards the opposite side
- Finally, you will need to place the arm at your side, and then slowly raise it towards your back
- From here, proceed to make a circle using your arm—you should start from a relaxed position with the arm at the side, then stretch it to your front, over the head, to your back, and then back to where you started.
- Give it some time to relax before starting again.
- Make sure you are standing erect with both shoulders being squared and relaxed
- Take both hands and clasp them behind your lower back
- In case you are unable to clasp your hands, hold on to a towel laid down in a horizontal position behind your back
- Lift the clasped hands away from the body making sure that your elbows will not tilt
- Maintain this position for thirty seconds
- Allow your body to relax before repeating
You have to remember to maintain the upright posture or else the stretch will not work for you
Performing a shoulder blaze squeeze while seated or standing can also help strengthen the muscles that are around your shoulders. For this, you will need to:
- Gently press the shoulders together while making certain that the back remains straight
- Try and hold the position for ten seconds before repeating
- You should repeat the exercise at least five times in a single session
With activities, you need to be careful so as not to overdo it. Also, it is always best to make sure that you consult a doctor before you can attempt any of the exercises.
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- Shoulder pain and common shoulder problems. (2010, December): http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00065
- Emily Lunardo. (2016, June 16). Pinched Nerve in Shoulder Blade. Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Exercises: http://www.belmarrahealth.com/pinched-nerve-in-shoulder-blade-causes-symptoms-treatments-and-exercises/
- NHS Staff. (N.D). Pinched Nerve in Shoulder Blade: http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/Pinched-Nerve-Shoulder-Blade.html