Left shoulder blade can be caused by an abundance of things. Some are more commonplace, like arthritis or muscle strain. Others are potentially life threatening, as in the case of a heart attack or carcinoma. There are injuries that cause pain to both shoulder blades, injuries that are more likely to affect the right shoulder blade (but sometimes show up in the left shoulder blade), and issues that primarily affect the left shoulder blade.
The Heart of the Matter
Though many people think of a heart as being heart-shaped, it is actually round and about the size of a manís fist. The heart is located behind the rib cage, next to the lungs, on the left side of the body. Because it is located so close to the left shoulder blade, issues with the heart, or the tissue surrounding the heart, often manifest as left shoulder blade pain. For example, one of the symptoms of cardiac arrest in males is pain in the left arm, shoulder, and shoulder blades. Be aware, though, that even right shoulder blade pain can indicate heart problems in females.
Pericarditis is an example of a heart related disease that can cause pain in the left shoulder blade. The heart is surrounded with a fluid filled sac known as the pericardium. When the pericardium is infected, it becomes irritated and swollen, a condition known as pericarditis. As a general rule, the exact cause of the infection is unknown, though it is often suspected to be a virus. The pain associated with pericarditis is typically sharp, but it can be a dull pain in some cases. It begins in the center or left side of the chest, and does not improve on its own over time.
Adhesive capsulitis is typically referred to as frozen shoulder, a perfect description for the disease. Though the joint is not literally frozen, it is stiff and difficult to move, and can cause pain the general shoulder area. Frozen shoulder occurs when the muscles and other soft tissue in the area because stiff, usually as a result of disuse. In many cases, scar tissue forms on the shoulder which prevents it from being moved easily.
Prevention, Causes, and Treatment of Frozen Shoulder
Frozen shoulder commonly occurs on top of a different shoulder injury, such as damage to the rotator cuff, which prevented the muscles from being used properly. When such an injury occurs, it is important to use the muscles as much as the doctor allows to prevent adhesive capsulitis. Other risk factors for frozen shoulder include conditions like diabetes, being female, and being above 40 years of age. The condition is typically treated and reversed with the help of some basic exercises. Over the counter medications, ice, or heat can be used to help with any associated pain.
Pancoast tumors are a kind of lung cancer that is found at the very top of either lung. Because they are so high up on the lungs, they often move to neighboring areas of the body. The tumors may move to nearby bones, such as the ribs and vertebrae, or to nerves in the area. Because they are likely to affect the nerves, the symptoms of some kinds of pancoast tumors include pain in the arm, hand and shoulder. Pancoast tumors are considered relatively treatable as long as the disease hasnít spread to the lymph nodes.
Left shoulder blade pain can occur as a result of any number of conditions. If the pain doesnít go away on its own or worsens over time, consider visiting a doctor to determine the source of the pain. The doctor can run tests to determine the underlying issue, with the hope that once the issue is treated the pain will disappear completely.