Pain between Shoulder Blades – Causes, Treatment and Prevention

The scapula or shoulder blade is a bone formation located in your upper back and it connects your arm to your thorax or chest wall. This bone structure is also a portion of your socket that connects the upper portion of your arm to your socket. The scapula is covered by tissues and muscles which soften this bone formation and this is the reason why you can move your shoulders freely. In other words, this part of your bones plays a very important role in the different actions that you are doing in your everyday life. However, your shoulder blade is also prone to inflammation and swelling which is typically termed as pain between shoulder blades. Do you have any idea about the possible causes of this pain? What is the best treatment and what are the things that you can do to avoid it?

The Causes of Pain between Shoulder Blades

Shoulder blades can become inflamed and painful due to several reasons. The following are the common causes of back pain between shoulder blades:

  • Surgical operations – if you underwent a surgical procedure for breast cancer, the cut made in your breast and armpit can also lead to shoulder blade pain. This will occur once the rhomboid core muscle gets strained.
  • Arthritis – this health problem is considered as the primary cause of pain between shoulder blades for older persons. Arthritis can result to the joints dysfunction in the vertebrae and in the upper back portion of the ribs which will lead to joint pain.
  • Osteoporosis – this health condition causes reduced bone mass and it will trigger the weakening of the bones in the long run. Osteoporosis is also one of the causes of pain between the shoulder blades.
  • Muscle cramps – having this while you exercise or pulling something hard can also lead to severe ache in the shoulders.
  • Damages rotator cuff – the muscles of your rotator cuff stabilize and control the movements of your shoulders. When the rotator cuff is injured, it can trigger upper backache and you will feel this when you try to lift your arm.
  • Trauma and injuries – structural injuries that occurred to your ligaments or bones of your shoulder could cause terrible upper backache.
  • Wear & tear – the deterioration of the neck or cervical spine due to bone disease or aging can lead to pain in back between shoulder blades.
  • Tendonitis – this condition can also trigger shoulder pain. The swollen tendons of your shoulder can result to upper backache.
  • Too much stress – when you are too much tired both in physical and mental aspects, your condition could cause pain between shoulder blades. Those people who suffer from depression typically complain about back pain.
  • Wrong posture – wrong posture while you sleep, sit, work, play or stand is also one of the leading causes of shoulder pain.


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  • Exposure to extreme cold temperature – too much exposure to cold temperature can also trigger inflammation in your shoulder blades.
  • Heart disease – the pain that is caused by aortic dissection can also lead to severe pain that you can feel in your shoulders. Shoulder pain and upper back pain are just few of the signs of myocardial infarction and you should seek medical attention right away if you experience any of these two. Chest pain is also one of the common causes of ache in the shoulder blades.
  • Problems in the digestive tract – if there is a problem in your pancreas, esophagus and stomach, your condition may also end to upper backache. Abdominal pain, regardless of its cause, can also bring pain to your shoulders.
  • Respiratory problems – if you have pulmonary emboli, pneumonia or pleurisy due to a respiratory infection, there are chances that you may experience chronic backache or shoulder pain.
  • Poor diet – vitamin deficiency and too much consumption of fatty foods can also cause weakened shoulder muscles and this will lead to muscle pain. Eating junk foods and processed meats or anything that is not rich in vitamins and minerals can result to upper backache and weakened muscles.
  • Abnormal changes – an irritated diaphragm can also lead to shoulder pain. There are also instances that women who suffer from ectopic pregnancy experience pain in the shoulder blades.

Treatment for Pain between Shoulder Blades

Severe pain in the shoulders when left untreated can result to dislocation of the shoulder. To find the best treatment for pain between shoulder blades, finding out the main cause of the upper backache is required.  Depending upon its cause, you may use pain killers or you can ask someone to massage your back and shoulders. Also, eating nutritious foods and having regular exercise can provide utmost help in getting rid of the pain between shoulder blades.

Pain between Shoulder Blades

It is also advisable to visit a doctor and tell him or her about your condition. He or she may prescribe topical ointments and hot or cold compress which can alleviate joint pain and inflammation. If the condition fails to improve, you need to consult a physical therapist and he or she will guide you in performing certain exercises that can relieve shoulder pain.

In case of tendonitis, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. Extending your hands above your head can provide utmost help in stretching the muscles of your shoulders. You may also rotate your shoulders in backward direction in slow but persistent movements. It will let the muscles of your shoulders get relaxed.

Prevention for Pain under Shoulder Blade

To avoid pain under shoulder blade, you must stretch out your shoulders and arms every day. This will help in reducing the pain and swelling of the shoulder blades. It will also help in the improvement of the flexibility, mobility and movement of the shoulder joints. By doing basic and simple stretches every day, you will start to feel better.

You should avoid eating unhealthy foods and change your diet. Eat more nutritious foods and exercise regularly. This way, you will be able to avoid certain diseases that can trigger pain between shoulder blades.

If you want to learn more about Pain between Shoulder Blades read also “Shoulder Pain Exercises” and “Left Shoulder Blade Pain”