Burning pain in the shoulder or shoulder blade can come from various injuries or conditions. Sometimes, the pain resolves quickly on its own, but other times, a person may require treatment from a doctor.

Shoulder pain has many causes, and people experience pain differently. What some interpret as a burning pain may come from the nerves or shoulder inflammation. Conditions or issues in other body parts can also cause a burning sensation in the shoulder. These include angina, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.

Treatment for shoulder pain depends on the cause. Rest and ice can sometimes help the pain go away quickly. For more severe cases, a person may need physical therapy, medications, or more invasive procedures such as surgery to address their pain.

This article will review possible causes of burning shoulder pain, when to see a doctor, and treatment options.

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An aching, burning, or sharp pain in the shoulder and shoulder blade can signal something is wrong. Below are some causes:

Nerve irritation or damage

Nerve damage or irritation can cause a burning or tingling pain in the shoulder.

A burner or stinger is an injury to a bundle of nerves in the neck known as the brachial plexus. Contact sports tend to cause these injuries. They can occur when something stretches or compresses the nerves, causing a shooting pain down the arm from the shoulder. The injury usually resolves quickly.

A person may also experience burning pain in the shoulder due to Parsonage-Turner syndrome (PTS). PTS mainly involves the nerves in the brachial plexus and causes severe and rapid pain in one or both shoulders. Experts do not know the exact cause of PTS, but it may relate to immune function. Sometimes, PTS goes away on its own.

Suprascapular nerve entrapment syndrome (SNES) happens when an injury traps or compresses the suprascapular nerve, which runs through the shoulder area. SNES is relatively rare. A person with SNES may experience burning pain, radiating pain, weakness, or pain that worsens with overhead movements.

Some potential causes of SNES include:

  • rotator cuff tears
  • cysts
  • repetitive shoulder and arm movements

Tendon inflammation

Inflammatory conditions in the shoulder, such as bursitis and tendinitis, can cause different types of pain.

Bursitis is when the small fluid-filled sacs near the joints — bursae — become swollen and inflamed. This inflammation can cause:

  • pain
  • sensitivity to pressure
  • a warm feeling in the affected area

Overusing the shoulder can lead to bursitis between the rotator cuff and shoulder blade.

Tendinitis is tendon inflammation. It can happen from overuse, injury, arthritis, or other damage. Rotator cuff tendinitis and bicep tendinitis can cause irritation and shoulder pain that may worsen with activity or overhead motions. The pain sensation may also move down the arm.


Fractures are a crack or break in the bone and can occur in any one of the shoulder bones.

When a person has a shoulder fracture, they may experience a burning pain in the affected area. Bruising and swelling may also accompany the pain.

Heart-related issues

Angina is a very common issue that occurs due to reduced blood flow to the heart. It is a symptom of coronary heart disease.

The condition can cause burning, pressure, or tightness in the chest that spreads to the shoulders and other areas of the body.


Fibromyalgia is a long-term, or chronic, condition that causes widespread pain in the body. Other symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • problems sleeping
  • cognitive or psychiatric symptoms

Pain can localize in the shoulder and may feel like a burning sensation.

Experts do not know what exactly causes fibromyalgia. It tends to affect females more than males and is more likely to occur as people age.

Generally, if shoulder pain is mild, resting for a few days may resolve the issue. If the pain is due to an intense injury, feels more severe, or persists, the person should see a doctor.

It is essential to know that shoulder pain or discomfort can sometimes be a heart attack symptom. If a person is experiencing heart attack symptoms, immediately seek emergency medical services.

Unstable angina pain also requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms tend to be stronger, last longer than a few minutes, and do not follow a pattern.

Treatment depends on what is causing the pain.

Treating nerve irritation and inflammation usually involves the following:

A doctor will be able to prescribe stronger medications or steroid injections to address swelling and pain.

Physical therapy can also help a person regain strength and mobility if necessary. They may need surgery or other minimally invasive interventions for more severe cases.

Try some exercises for shoulder pain.

Underlying conditions

Treatment may differ for burning shoulder pain due to underlying medical conditions or conditions affecting other body parts.

Doctors can treat angina with lifestyle changes, medicines, or special procedures.

Fibromyalgia treatment can involve medications, behavioral therapy, psychological therapy, movement, and other self-management strategies.

The best way to know if a person has an underlying condition is to seek medical attention for painful or persistent shoulder discomfort. A doctor can determine the best treatment approach on an individual basis.

A burning type of pain in the shoulder could be due to nerves, inflammation, or underlying health conditions such as angina, arthritis, or fibromyalgia.

Mild shoulder pain may go away in a few days with rest. If a person has more severe pain, symptoms that last, or pain due to a more intense injury, they should see a doctor.

Treating burning pain in the shoulder depends on the cause and may range from resting, taking medications, and addressing the underlying problem to requiring surgical intervention.

Shoulder discomfort can be a heart attack symptom. People should seek immediate medical help if experiencing heart attack symptoms or unstable angina pain.