So your pain is in the collarbone or clavicle area, but it seems to be originating from your neck.

This doesn’t sound good, and it warrants a medical evaluation.

“Shoulder blade pain is most commonly indicative of a cervical problem, usually degenerative disc disease, sometimes spinal stenosis, or radiculopathy, which is more commonly known as a pinched nerve,” says Dr. Mark Galland, orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist and physician at Orthopaedic Specialists of North Carolina.

“Cervical” refers to the neck area (cervical vertebrae). In degenerative disc disease, the spongy-like, shock-absorbing discs in between each vertebra are worn down.

Spinal stenosis is narrowing of the canal through which the spinal cord runs. Both situations can put pressure on nerves that come off the spinal cord.

Pain, tingling, numbness and weakness are all symptoms that can result.

Radiculopathy is when the pain, caused by nerve compression or pinching, radiates away from the source of the pinching.

So for a very common example, the pinching or compression of the nerve may be occurring in the low back (lumbar area), but the pain may be radiating down the leg.

Nerve compression in the neck area, likewise, can generate pain in the clavicle or shoulder region.

“Treatment options for this kind of pain include rest, physical therapy, a brief course of anti-inflammatory medication and a self-directed home exercise program,” says Dr. Galland.

It’s very crucial to stick with the physical therapy and home exercises.

“More significant pathology can be treated with a specialized injection called an ESI,” says Dr. Galland.

So if you have shoulder blade pain that seems to come from your neck, you should see an orthopedic specialist or sports medicine doctor.

ESI stands an epidural steroid injection, which often eliminates pain for up to three or four months.

Dr. Galland has authored many book chapters and papers in sports medicine. His advice and consultation have been sought by world-class athletes in track and field and Major League Baseball.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 


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