Pain at the back of the shoulder may originate either locally due to shoulder muscles, shoulder joints, tendons, or be caused by a problem with the spine, nerves, or muscles. Sometimes you may unknowingly hurt your shoulder and suffer an arm or shoulder injury, which may lead you to experience pain, along with other symptoms. However, there are cases when pain in the shoulder area, or shoulder blades is caused by issues with the spine instead.
Some common causes why you may be experiencing symptoms in your shoulder include injuries to the bones, muscles, or tendons, or spinal disorders that affect the cervical or thoracic spine.
People who frequently handle heavy objects or engage in strenuous physical activities as part of their occupation, a workout routine or a sport, are prone to muscle strains and sprains. In some cases muscles, tendons and ligaments of the upper back can become injured and lead to pain that spreads towards the shoulders.
Apart from injuries, other possible causes that can lead to pain in this region include:
- A disc herniation or bulge in the thoracic or cervical spine.
- Degenerative changes in the spine that affect the spinal discs, bones, or joints, or facilitate the development of bone growths (called bone spurs) that can pinch nerves.
- Compression of the spine, which causes the vertebral column to be pressed down and place stress on other components of the spine, such as the nerve roots branching our from the spinal cord.
- Shoulder impingement or a pinched nerve in the upper back or neck. When a nerve becomes trapped, it can trigger pain signals and make the area it resides in to feel painful. Shoulder pain, neck pain, upper back pain, and even arm pain can occur. Pinched nerves can result due to disc issues, bone spurs, or spinal compression.
Additionally, in many cases, common shoulder problems can simply be attributed to poor posture. This can happen due to prolonged periods of sitting down and can be worsened by performing activities that require the use of a computer, specifically the screen and the keyboard. Over time, this strained positioning can cause our upper body to remain in a slouched position, with the shoulders pushed forward.
In many cases, typing on a computer can place a strain on the upper back and the shoulders as it often requires us to have our bodies in a strained, unnatural position. As such, many office workers are more prone to developing back and shoulder problems.
There are a few treatments to consider when dealing with pain in the shoulder area. The treatment will depend largely on the cause of the pain. If the symptoms are caused by a temporary factor such as a sports injury, resting and the use of locally applied heated pads or ice packs, as well as taking pain relievers, or engaging in physiotherapy may all be helpful.
However, if the symptoms are caused by poor posture, and if you experience referred pain, it is recommended to try and correct the posture and take steps to reduce the strain that is placed on your back during the activity that facilitates the development of pain.
This can include making certain adjustments such as using an ergonomic office chair, adjusting the height of your chair, monitor and keyboard, so that you can sit in a position that is more relaxing for your body, taking frequent breaks from your desk to walk around and stretch, and engage in exercises that help correct your posture.
If you pain is caused by spinal disorders, one of the best steps you can take is to decompress your spine with the help of a special device called the Backrack. In addition to reducing pain caused by spinal disorders, it can also help you correct your posture, as it targets the root cause of back, neck, and shoulder problems – compression of the spine – through simple exercises that are performed while laying down.