Scapular Strain

Author: Rakesh Chandra, Reviewed by:


Scapula is a flat triangular bone found at the back of the shoulder and attaches the arm bone with the ribs. Pain in the scapula or the shoulder blade is quite common and often the result of excessive physical activity.


  • Pain, tenderness, swelling, stiffness at the affected area
  • Bruising
  • Redness
  • Reduce ability to move the affected body part


Causes of scapula strain include inappropriate sleeping posture, overuse or a single violent injury. Risk is increased with throwing sports such as baseball, football, basketball, tennis, shot-put, javelin, rowing, crewing, as well as obesity, poor conditioning.

Recovery Time

Mild scapula strains heal in 1-2 weeks, severe scapula strains in 1-2 months.


Diagnosis is done by physical examination and medical history. To diagnose the underlying cause, an X-ray or an MRI scan of the shoulder blade may be recommended.

Food and Nutrition

Foods to be taken
  • Include anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, ginger, pineapple, papaya
  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids – fish, walnuts, seaweed, and soybeans
  • Use olive oil when cooking instead of vegetable oil or butter as olive oil contains a natural compound called oleocanthal which may help prevent inflammation.
Foods to be avoided
  • Trans-saturated fats
  • Deep fried foods
  • Sugar
  • Flour based products
  • Fast food
  • Alcohol

Exercise and Yoga

Exercises like wall pushups, shoulder pressups, shoulder flexions and walkups that are designed to strengthen the shoulder are often effective in reducing pain in the shoulder blade.

Poses that open, release, and stretch your shoulder and arm area:
  • Seated Eagle Pose
  • Cow Face Arms
  • Cat/Cow
  • Thread the Needle


  • Rest
  • An ice pack or cool compressors helps in alleviating the pain
  • Compress the area with an elastic bandage to reduce swelling
  • Massage to the scapular area with essential oil will relieve strain and spasm of muscles attached to the scapula.

Watch Out (Moderate)

  • Discoloration or changes in skin color. Blue or whitish spots on the arm
  • Deformity, numbness of the arm, reddening

Watch Out (Severe)

Consult a doctor if you have any symptoms like
  • Severe pain
  • inability to move your shoulder
  • fever, chest pain or shortness of breath
  • lasting bruising
  • heat and tenderness around the joint
  • pain that persists beyond a few weeks of home treatment


For scapular pain besides exercises to relieve shoulder blade pain, sitting or sleeping in correct posture, is vital for preventing scapular pain.

Summary Overview

Pain in the scapula or the shoulder blade

Summary Causes

Inappropriate sleeping posture, overuse or a single violent injury

Summary Symptoms

Pain, tenderness, swelling, stiffness, unable to move the affected area

Summary Prevention

Proper exercises

Download our Android app HealthPIE to manage family health