Everybody knows that pain around the left shoulder is a bad sign---it often means the person is suffering from a heart attack. Many people therefore assume that if they have should pain on the right side, it's no big deal and does not need to be checked out. After all, it's not on the left side. The truth is that there are several serious conditions that can result in right shoulder pain, and many other minor conditions that still need to be treated. Pain is never normal and should always be checked.
Gallbladder and Gallstones
One of the biggest clues that a person is suffering from gallbladder disease or gallstones is pain in the right shoulder blade. The pain begins under the shoulder blade and radiates out. The pain can be mild, feeling like a knotted muscle, or severe. Severe pain from a gallbladder attack will start in the right shoulder blade and leave the person struggling to breathe through the pain. Anyone who experiences this type of right shoulder pain should see a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately. In most cases, immediate surgery is necessary.
The liver is located just below the rib cage, so when it is damaged, the pain will also be felt just below the right shoulder blade. A liver abscess is caused by bacteria. The bacteria destroys part of the liver, leaving a hole. That hole ends up becoming a breeding ground for infection in the liver. One of the major signs of this condition is right shoulder blade pain which is usually accompanied by fever, flu-like symptoms and possible jaundice. Anyone who suspects a liver abscess should see a doctor immediately to begin antibiotics to fight the infection.
Women need to be screened regularly for breast cancer. Catching it early is the best way for a woman to overcome the disease. However, breast cancer that is not caught in a timely manner can begin to spread. One sign that breast cancer has spread is pain in the shoulder blades or directly below the shoulder blade. If the cancer was in the right breast and it begins to spread, the pain will be in the right shoulder blade. Anyone who is at risk for breast cancer and has pain in the shoulder blades should be checked.
Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can affect the shoulders. Arthritis that affects the right shoulder will cause pain and stiffness. The person may complain of being unable to lift his arms over his head. The range of motion may be reduced in the right shoulder and attempting to move it may cause pain. There are many medications available to help arthritis pain, although there is no cure. Many sufferers find that a mild pain reliever like Motrin or Aleve is enough to get them through the day.
Other Common Causes of Right Shoulder Pain
While the above conditions are serious, most shoulder pain can be explained by more common problems. A pinched nerve causes pain that begins on the top of the shoulder and radiates down the arm. A muscle spasm can cause shoulder pain across the shoulder blade. Sports injuries such as sprains, strains and dislocations can also cause intense shoulder pain. Icing the area and taking a pain reliever can help but if pain persists, medical attention is necessary. Sometimes a minor shoulder injury can become worse over time and require surgery.