Cramping or pain under the left shoulder blade can be a sign that a fracture, break or tear in the muscle has occurred. But it can also be a bigger cause for concern; especially, when it indicates the presence of an underlying illness that needs to be addressed. Cramping under the left shoulder blade that is persistent, and does not follow any type of injury, needs to be reported to a health care provider immediately.
What is the Shoulder Blade?
According to Baby Boomer Care.com, the shoulder blade is also referred to as the scapula, which connects the bone of the upper arm to the clavicle. Thick layers of muscle encompass the shoulder blade allowing it to smoothly rotate on the shoulder joint.
Cramping under the left shoulder blade can indicate that there is some kind of abdominal condition. For instance, Ohio Health Online explains that an enlarged spleen may present with pain and cramping under the left shoulder blade and is considered a health emergency. Pancreatitis, stomach ulcers and intestinal lesions and excess amounts of gas can also cause cramping under the left shoulder blade.
According to Back Pains Treated.org, pain that is associated with the left shoulder blade can often be a sign of an impending heart attack; especially if the pain is also located in the area of the chest and also radiates into the back. Pericarditis can also manifest with cramping in the left shoulder blade. The pericardium is the thin lining that encases the heart. Pericarditis is denoted by an inflammation of the pericardium lining. According to Rachel Peake and Ann Kirkness of the North Shore Cardiovascular Learning Center, the symptoms of pericarditis often include pain in the left shoulder blade.
Lung conditions such as pneumonia and pleuritis can also lead to cramping in the left shoulder blade. In fact, the shoulder pain that is associated with pleurisy can be localized to either the one shoulder or both. Merck explains that pleurisy is caused by a build-up of fluid in the pleural space of the lungs. The condition can cause severe chest pains that radiate to the shoulder blades.
An ectopic pregnancy can sometimes cause severe pain and cramping. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus. Often times this can happen inside one of the fallopian tubes and is also considered a health emergency; especially, if the tube bursts. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), acute pain that spreads to the left shoulder blade is a classic symptom of a burst fallopian tube that is caused by an ectopic pregnancy.