Many people experience pain below the left shoulder blade, either on a chronic or acute basis. Pain below the left shoulder blade is generally caused by irritation of the ligaments and muscles surrounding the area. This inflammation could be caused by a number of factors, including poor posture, repetitive motion, joint deterioration and traumatic injury. Like most other forms of upper back pain, pain below the left shoulder blade responds well to holistic and naturopathic treatments. In general, these are associated with fewer risks than allopathic approaches.
Chiropractic and osteopathic care are frequently used by people seeking relief from pain throughout the upper back. Chiropractors aim to relieve pressure and pain in the back (and sometimes elsewhere in the body) through the gentle manipulation of the spine. Spinal manipulation, which is classified as a form of naturopathic and alternative medicine within the U.S., is generally regarded as a safe procedure; it is associated with very few side effects and no drug interactions. If the pain below the left shoulder blade is caused by a serious traumatic injury, an osteopathic physician or physical therapist may also provide spinal manipulation to ease the pain. In severe cases, several sessions may be necessary.
Massage therapy is an excellent natural treatment for pain below the left shoulder blade, especially if poor posture, repetitive motion, or over-exertion are responsible for the pain. Swedish ("rolling") massage, pressure-point massage and Shiatsu massage are all useful techniques for the treatment of upper-back pain. Massage therapy can work to relieve pain caused by tense, knotted muscles; it also promotes relaxation and eases symptoms of stress and anxiety.
An ancient component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture has been demonstrated to relieve many forms of chronic pain, including pain in the upper back. This energy-based healing system utilizes thin, sterile needles, which are inserted into the skin at various key points in the body. According to the principles of TCM, this technique balances a person's chi, or life-energy, enabling a reduction of inflammation and pain. Acupressure, which uses a similar philosophy, involves the use of pressure-- rather than needles-- to restore the flow of energy in the body.
Many herbal remedies contain anti-inflammatory compounds that ease tension and inflammation throughout the body. The herbs white willow and meadowsweet both contain salicylic acid, a naturally occurring compound similar to acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). Ayurvedic anti-inflammatory herbs include fenugreek and turmeric, which also contain potent antioxidant compounds. Several "superfruits," including elderberry, blueberry, pomegranate, acai and mangosteen, also possess anti-inflammatory compounds. Because back pain is frequently caused by anxiety-related muscle tension, calming herbs like chamomile and valerian are also beneficial to many people.