Left scapula pain

by Melissa
(Atlanta, GA)

For several months, I have noticed I have sharp pain near the inferior angle of my scapula on the left side. I have tried massaging it to no avail. I have also had stiffness of my second knuckles of my left middle, ring, and pinky finger when I first wake up in the morning. I sleep on my back. The stiffness in my hand lasts usually for 10 minutes. It is stiff and difficult for me to ball my hand into fist. But if I continue to work at it, it's back to normal within 10 minutes. There is no numbness, redness, or swelling of my hands. The rest of the day my hand is normal.

But I have constant pain in my left shoulder/scapula area. I am realizing it is probably that I carry my 1 and 3 year old on my left side.

I have full range of motion with my arms. Extension above my head does not seem to exacerbate my scapula pain. The one motion that does is if I spread out my arms like an airplane and push the dorsal side of my wrists back (squeezing both of my scapula together).

If I shrug my shoulders upwards, that also seems to exacerbate the pain.

I am wondering is there another sleeping position I should try? Also, what do you think is the diagnosis? Also, are there exercises that I should avoid? Exercises that I should try?

I have been trying to avoid carrying my kids on the left side, but I still have the persistent pain.

Thank you!

Hello Melissa,
This sounds like a mid thoracic subluxation, or perhaps the rib spinal joint which is usually not hugely problematic for chiropractors unless there is any significant degenerative change. An old Scheuermanns can leave its miserable mark, and a scoliosis causing a weakness there is always a possibility.

But the general rule of thumb is that any pain that continues despite home treatment should be examined, and frankly by waiting so long you have simply exacerbated the problem. It's likely to be stubborn now, and will probably require, after an initial course of say 6 to 10 treatment, plenty of specific rehab exercises and an occasional but regular chiropractic adjustment.

Medical referrals from the lungs and other organs are not common but do occur.

In short you need a good examination, probably including x-rays. See your doctor of choice.

Dr B

» Left scapula pain

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

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6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

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8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

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11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

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And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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