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The shoulder blade ( scapula) is a commonly forgotten part of  shoulder movement. It is a triangular shaped bone that provides the socket for the shoulder joint and connection to the collarbone, providing both mobility and stability.

Because the scapula contains the socket for the shoulder joint, the quality of the movement of the scapula determines to a large extent the way the shoulder and arm can work. If the muscles controlling the scapula are not coordinating correctly, there is increased stress placed upon the shoulder joint and rotator cuff muscles.

When assessing pain in the shoulder and arm it is important to accurately assess the manner in which the shoulder blade is moving. In studies where shoulder blade movement is inhibited, rotator cuff tendon problems quickly develop. Conversely, correcting scapula mechanics has been shown to increase shoulder strength and improve function.

Whether your shoulder blade/ arm pain is caused by movement or your problems develop in your neck/ shoulder region from prolonged time at your desk, it is important to assess the shoulder blade and then often retrain the muscles that move and stabilise the scapula.

Published in “The Village Observer”, February, 2015. Written by Burns Bay Physiotherapy.