Shoulder blade pain makes reaching overhead difficult.
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Shoulder blade pain and tingling in the arms can cause significant difficulty with basic daily tasks, such as dressing, showering, driving and reaching overhead. Bursitis is one condition that commonly causes shoulder blade pain. Tingling of the arm and hand result from pressure on nerves that run from the neck to the fingertips. Although they occur via different mechanisms, bursitis-related shoulder pain and arm tingling sometimes occur together due to an underlying condition, such as arthritis in the spine and shoulder.
The upper arm bone and the shoulder blade come together to form the shoulder, a ball-and-socket joint. Another part of the shoulder blade forms a bony roof over the shoulder joint. The shoulder blade sits on the back of the ribs. Several muscles attach the shoulder blade to the upper arm, allowing it to move.
Fluid-filled sacs called bursae provide cushioning between the bones of the shoulder joint and decrease friction as tendons move the arm. Several bursa sacs are also located under the shoulder blade. Bursitis, or inflammation of a bursa sac, can develop at either of these locations.
Nerves travel from the spine to the fingertips, giving sensation to the skin along the way. Compression of these nerves as they arise from the spine or along their route through the neck and arm can cause tingling in the arm and hand.
Subacromial bursitis is inflammation of the bursa between the upper arm bone and the roof of the shoulder joint formed by the shoulder blade. Bursitis is a type of impingement syndrome. The bursa is pinched between the bones as the arm is raised. It can be caused by irritation of the tendons that also travel through the space or repetitive use of the shoulder, particularly for overhead activities. Muscles that attach to these tendons are located on the back of the shoulder, often causing pain in the shoulder blade.
Subacromial bursitis can also cause tightness in the neck muscles. If the arm cannot be lifted, muscles that attach to the neck "shrug" the shoulder to lift it up higher. This can put pressure on the nerves as they come out of the neck, causing tingling in the arm.
Several bursae are located under the shoulder blade. Scapulothoracic bursitis can develop in this area, causing pain in the shoulder blade. This condition is not common and usually occurs in athletes who repetitively throw a ball overhand. It can also be caused by abnormal bones or muscles around the shoulder blade and rib cage. Bursitis may cause the affected shoulder blade to stick out further than the opposite side. However, the main symptom is pain in the shoulder blade with activity.
Several muscles that move the shoulder blade also run along the back of the neck. Tight shoulder blade muscles can strain the neck, increasing pressure on the nerves as they leave the spine. In addition to shoulder blade pain, this can cause tingling in the arm and hand.
Tingling in the arm and hands is caused by abnormal pressure at some point along the path of the nerves that supply these areas. These nerves start in the neck and branch in the armpit area. The nerves continue to branch into 3 main nerves that give sensation to the forearm and fingers. Nerve compression can occur in the neck as the nerves leave the spine; the armpit as they travel under muscles; or the forearm, wrist or hand.
Pain and tingling caused by nerve compression may alter the way you perform daily tasks. Neck movements are usually painful, causing increased tension in muscles that connect the neck, shoulder and shoulder blade. Altered movements can lead to bursitis as well as tingling in the arm or hand.
Arthritis of the shoulder causes changes in the joint that may provoke the development of bursitis and shoulder blade pain. The spine is also commonly involved with arthritis. Degenerative changes of the upper spine caused by arthritis may lead to compression of nerves as they leave the spine. This can potentially cause tingling of the arms and hands. Therefore, people with arthritis of both the shoulder and spine may experience bursitis-related shoulder pain and tingling of the arm and hand related to this underlying disorder.