When I was really young I had a searing pain between my shoulder blades that was so bad I couldn't sleep, and it caused my scapula to wing. The pain was a burning ache. The doctors thought that the winging was caused by weak muscles, so they had me doing PT to try to strengthen the muscle. This (unsuccessfully) treated the symptoms, not the problem.
When I was in high school, I was farming during the summer and got the searing pain again. I didn't make the connection between the first incident and this one. The doctor thought it was a strained/torn muscle and I was prescribed ibuprofen. When the pain finally went away after a few months, I had itchy/tingly/numb skin on the right side of my upper back. It was clear that this was nerve damage, but we thought it was a result of the muscle injury.
Anyway, the nerve damage remained for years. Sometimes it would itch really badly, and sometimes ache. Then one night I woke up with searing pain between my shoulder blades and had the scapular winging again. The pain was so bad this time I couldn't sleep more than a few hours at a time. Just laying in bed was incredibly painful. I had severe neck pain as well. Went to a sports physician and neurologist, and confirmed that it was long thoracic nerve (LTN) damage. At last, we determined that nerve damage was the culprit! They suggested physical therapy, but I declined, as I had been through it before and it did nothing.
I had a hunch, and wanted to try something different. I went to a chiropractor. Most of the pain disappeared within 5 minutes of the first adjustment. I continued to go to the chiropractor for a few weeks, and started doing exercises to strengthen my neck and upper back and constantly worked on maintaining good posture. I was still suffering when I would lay down to go to sleep, though, because the neck pain was still unbearable whenever I would lay down. So I got a Tempur-Pedic neck pillow, and had the first pain-free (and continuous) night's sleep in a long time. That pillow made such a huge difference.
It is now about four years later, and my back is great. The nerve damage has healed completely, no strange sensations coming from the skin on the right side, and no neck pain. Best of all, no scapular winging, and I know what to do if it ever happens again.
As to why I am susceptible to this problem, I'm baffled. I've heard that the nerve is easy to injure - maybe I just have bad luck, or maybe there's a genetic predisposition.
- Had winged scapula several times through my life
- Different treatments / diagnoses were invalid
- Chiropractor fixed it
- Tempur-Pedic neck pillow helps immensely
- Worked on posture and strengthening the upper back
- All better now