Shoulder blade

Question: Does anybody experience any pain at the bottom left of the right shoulder blade? I always get a fairly sharp physical ache there which seems to be a starting point for a flare which of course is daily.

Answer 1: It was in my shoulder blades that the pain started when I acquired RSI. I did what I gather is a bit typical and pretended it wasn’t there, until I had to take a week of work when I finally couldn’t move my arms. I gather myself quite fortunate because (as long as I am careful) I don’t suffer from constant pain anymore. However I frequently am driving six – seven hours up motorways which is a bit of a killer for my arms, it’s just a case of being sensible and making sure I take a break. I’m sure all on this group would agree that is probably one of the biggest causes of RSI, the “I’ll have a break when I finish this” philosophy, which, as I found to my cost, is wrong.

Whenever my RSI decides to ‘have a go’! it always starts from my shoulder blades (probably because I have lousy posture, something I am working at). So my advice, for what it’s worth, is DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT NOW. Check your workstation, Check your posture and TAKE A BREAK!!!

Answer 2: Mine starts in shoulder blade too but also I think there is a ‘root’ of muscle tension at the bottom of my neck where it rounds out into shoulder. My Alexander teacher talked about where the scapula goes from somewhere mid spine and up through shoulder blade to edge of shoulder (near arm). She described it like a elastic thing which is all wrong because of my appalling posture. This is ALWAYS helped for me by lying flat with small book under head and knees up. This scapula thing could be causing the pain in shoulder blade – ask around and try lying down for 10 minutes. I did exactly the same as you Richard – worked till needed a month off then have also been relatively lucky. Although I have quit driving in order reduce the strain of both daily living and about half of my work time using computers.

Answer 3: Yes, shoulder for me too! I am still trying to work out how much of the problem is rooted in the upper spine / right shoulder area, and how much is actually in the wrists/forearms, where it hurts most. Certainly the muscles tucked away under and around the right shoulder blade are very tender at times. It often feels like a small marble is trapped just under the shoulder blade. Sounds like you might benefit from some voice-recognition software too.

Answer 4:
I too have a problem with my right shoulder blade where it was abducted (sticking out) and was a source of nagging pain and pins and needles. I have a very recently come up with a self diagnosis which is based on a couple of RSI articles. (My osteopath is keen on my diagnosis but my physio is less committed.)

Briefly(?) I had a car accident about 10 years ago where my seat belt stopped me going through the windscreen. About 5 years ago I developed nagging pains where the muscle behind my right shoulder blade went into spasms (In spite of chiropractor visits it persisted.) Then almost 2 years ago I had a variety of RSI type problems including serious shoulder tenosynovitis when mousing. It’s possible that my shoulder tenosynovitis and other arm problems are caused by thoracic outlet syndrome where the accident damaged the neck muscles and resulted in a progressive shortening in front and the associated lengthening in my upper back muscles causing the shoulder blade problem. For a long time I limited my neck stretches because they aggravating my shoulder blade (sent the muscle into spasm and locked the nearby joints) but having strengthened my upper back I am now able to do neck muscle stretches. This and lots of other things seem to make sense with my problems and although its early days and I hate to get too optimistic about recovery I thought I should share it with you. I just wish I had read the Higgs and Mackinnon article a couple of years ago and perhaps that I’d been driving more slowly 10 years ago! All comments on the above are welcome.

Answer 5: Like most people posting on this topic, I also noticed a nasty ache under my right shoulder blade at about the time I started to develop RSI. All my symptoms are slowly improving now that I use a voice interface and do my neural stretches. However, as I am still pretty achy, about five weeks ago I started to go to a massage therapist specialising in sports and remedial massage. I am very impressed by her, particularly as I seem to be getting what I would term gentle physiotherapy not massage. She spends a long time manipulating my shoulder blades to help loosen all the muscles in the thorax, some of the stuff is pretty surprising. Last Friday she ended up picking me off the table with my shoulder blades! I am definitely feeling much better generally for the massage and am pleased to find other parts of my body improving as well as my arms. I would definitely recommend other RSI sufferers to give this a try.

Answer 6: My upper back muscles on the RH side were so fibrous that any exercise put them into spasm. So I had an initial 6-8 weeks of my osteopath grinding her elbow on the muscles (one for the sadists!) and reaching up under my shoulder blade to “tease out the cling film – her words!” Then exercises from the physio performed daily involving lying on my front and pulling the shoulder blades down and together. It took several weeks but gradually the muscle has improved and my shoulder blade sticks out far less. This resulted in no noticeable improvement in my RSI but has allowed me recently to get serious with neck stretches which I feel (touch wood) is giving improvement.

Answer 7: Very interesting – I think serious stretching is very useful alongside the trigger point stuff (which is what you described basically). You may well find that other trigger points are causing the RSI more directly – try the muscles of the neck (being careful to only press on muscle!), shoulder, and all over your shoulder blade, particularly the one that runs from the armpit down the back. Also, the pectorals are frequently very tight in RSI and can do with some work – I had one trigger point here that caused pain in my palm, and pressing on this point magically removed the pain.

Answer 8: Thanks, yes, I am well aware I should lay off typing a lot more than I do! I did in fact buy the mini dragon system last year (just for word) BUT when I have deadlines for work and my masters all rushing at me at once the level of stress and frustration is only added to by attempting to get dragon to understand even a sentence. Is it just me and my lack of self discipline that won’t take the time to teach it in advance of these situations, or am I just lucky I can still keep going on the keyboard for the moment?

Answer 9: You do mean – yes, you must — Dragon Dictate Solo. I used the early versions and I didn’t have the kind of problem you’re suggesting: maybe you do have to put in a bit more time training it. (I had to retrain my new one because I changed type, and I messed up the training and managed not to finish it properly: that was just 2 days ago and the recognition is very good indeed.

I can still type a bit too, but basically my hands/wrists have gone; and I don’t want to go back to the terrible pain of the acute phase. What you could try – I should say, I am also allowed to type a little, by the specialists who recommended voice software for me — is mixing them. Move the mouse with your hands, but say “Click”. (It’s actually “Button Click”, that was driving me mad, so I changed it: you might see what drives you mad, and change that!) Well, then – you see, almost anything can hurt my hands/wrists now — including this, but I’ve got a heavy cold – if it’s affecting you that badly you do need voice software.

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