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What Causes Upper Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades

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Rhomboid Stretch And Scapula Fixator

Cause of Upper Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades and Neck -Chiropractor in Vaughan Dr Walter Salubro

Also called technical Snuggle bear, this technique allows the fixing of the shoulder blade that fits on the middle back. The goal of this movement is to catch his left shoulder blade with his right hand and the right shoulder blade with his hand so that the two elbows are approximately on top of each other. You can hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds and gradually relax. This movement should not be painful, seek only the tensioning of the muscle and stop as soon as you feel pain.

Warning Signs Of More Serious Arm & Shoulder Problems

In some instances, shoulder pain and arm pain can indicate more serious problems. These problems might include cancer, fractures, infection, severe nerve compression and ankylosis spondylitis.

  • If there is cancer in the bones of the spine, this usually means metastases .

  • Fractures of the spine can be caused by a direct hit, fall, accident but sometimes can occur without trauma, called spontaneous fractures. Spontaneous fractures, usually can occur in elderly people with osteoporosis or those who may be taking steroid medications that weaken the bone.

  • Infections of the spine tend to occur if patients have a weakened immune system from any cause or medical condition. Sometimes infections of the spine can occur if there is an infection elsewhere in the body. People with spinal infections usually feel unwell and can have sweats and a fever.

  • Nerve compression, called myelopathy, where there is a dangerous compression of the spinal cord in the neck. Myelopathy could cause symptoms that might include, weakness or problems with coordination in the arms, hands, legs, or even feet.

  • Ankylosing spondylitis is progressive arthritis of the spine and can cause widespread inflammation, pain and stiffness throughout the spine.

Seek urgent and specialist medical advice if:

Upper Back Is Too Straight

Many people are taught to sit up straight with “good posture”. This is good to a point.

However, many people take this too far. If sitting up tall is good, then sitting up taller must be better, right?


For most things in life there is a happy medium, and posture is no exception. Your spine is supposed to have and S-shaped curve, and the upper back is supposed to be a little rounded.

When you sit up with your upper back too straight it can pinch nerves in the thoracic spine, which causes referred pain around the ribcage.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve in the thoracic spine can include upper back pain between the shoulder blades and/or pain or burning in the front of the chest.

Note: If the “heartburn” is new, make sure to rule out a heart attack first.

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How To Fix Upper Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades

The pain between your shoulder blades is quite common and may reappear every now and then. It is a type of discomfort that most doctors would name an interscapular pain. Painful sensations vary widely in how they feel, as well as their intensity. For example, some people feel soreness or dull pain, while others have shooting pain. It hits the superior part of the back. In most cases, there is not much to be concerned about. In other situations, you might need to see a doctor.

Learning how to fix upper back pain between shoulder blades goes in two different directions. First, you need to understand the causes of this issue. Once you have the causes, you can prevent it or ameliorate it by paying attention to them. Second, there are various things you can do to make the pain go away, whether or not you work on the causes too. Now, what should you know in terms of causes and triggers?

What Types Of Back Surgery Might You Need

Upper back pain between shoulder blades relief

Needing upper back surgery is rare, but if you do need it, you have options. These are some of the most common procedures for thoracic spine injury.

  • Kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty: To repair compression fractures due to osteoporosis, your doctor will inject a glue-like bone cement.
  • Spinal laminectomy/spinal decompression. If you have spinal stenosis , your surgeon may remove bony walls of the vertebrae to ease pressure on the nerves.
  • Microdiscectomy. When a disc bulges and presses on a nerve, microdiscectomy minimally invasive removal of a disc is the gold standard procedure.

The success of your treatment, at least in terms of pain relief, may depend on whats causing your upper and mid back pain.

The not-so-good news: Some people will never be pain free.

If you have a condition that leads to chronic pain for instance, fibromyalgia or spinal stenosis its important to manage expectations for relief, says University of Washington pain control expert David R. Patterson, PhD.

The truth is that most chronic pain does not have a cure. You can only manage it, says Dr. Patterson That could mean a combination approach to therapy: body as well as mind .

Perhaps the best news of all is that most back pain gets better on its own, even if you do nothing but exercise patience.

Anatomy: Merck Manual. Injuries of the Spinal Cord and Vetrebrae.

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Injury To The Muscles

Pain between the shoulder blades can result from injury to the muscles of the upper back.

Exercise, lifting heavy objects, and falling can all lead to injuries. Tears can cause severe pain.

The shoulder blade is attached to the arm by the rotator-cuff muscles. The injury to one or more of these muscles may cause pain in the shoulder and upper back. These injuries can also make it difficult to move the arm or shoulder.

Mild or moderate muscle tears can be treated with rest, ice packs, and strengthening exercises. Sometimes, doctors may recommend steroid injections to reduce swelling.

About 20% of rotator-cuff injuries require surgery to reattach tendon.

Common Causes Of Upper Back Pain

Studies show nearly one in 10 men and one in five women experience upper back pain. While its impossible to defend against every type of upper back stressor, learning about the most common triggers can help you protect your back. Pain in the upper back can be related to lifestyle or caused by injuries, and causes may include:

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Try Heat And Cold Therapy

Heat and/or cold therapy is a common, relatively cheap, and often effective method of pain relief. Typically cold therapy is best after an acute injury. Hot therapy may help with types of chronic pain, like arthritis. Always talk to your doctor to see what would work best for you.

Something as simple as a hot shower may alleviate pain. Ice wraps and packs can also help. Regardless of which method you use, be careful not to allow the temperature to get too hot or too cold, and dont keep the treatment on your skin for too long. You could end up burning yourself. If you use a store-bought product, be sure to follow all instructions.

Cervical Spine/nerve Root Problems

How to Relieve Upper Back Pain between the Shoulder Blades.

Another possible cause of upper back issues are injuries to the cervical spine. These will often be the result of whiplash or some other form of injury caused by a car accident.

Injuries may be both to the actual bone and to the muscle tissue in the area. This is especially true of the trapezius muscle and the deeper rhomboid muscles. It is also true of the levator scapulae muscles surrounding the neck.

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Ways To Alleviate Pain In Your Upper Back And Shoulder Blades

There are exercise and stretching techniques that you can practice to deal with the pain in your upper back and shoulder blades. There are techniques that will give you temporary relief via self-massage and stretching for areas that are actually painful. There are also stretches and muscle activation that will help promote better posture. This is more of a long-term strategy.

Would You Describe The Pain As Long And Moderate

If so, this could indicate the presence of swollen facet joints or herniated discs. In this case, medical attention might be necessary. Moderate pain that stays for half an hour sometimes means that the problem has worsened. If the pain gets worse, doctors may have to use certain imaging technologies to determine the extent of the damage.

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How Can You Get An Upper Back Pain Diagnosis

When you go to a doctor for your upper or mid back pain, youll start with a conversation. Expect the doctor to ask you about any events that may be directly responsible: A fall, a car accident, or any changes or increases to your fitness routine.

You might be asked to rank your pain on a scale of 0-10. You should also be prepared to talk about how your pain does, or does not, interfere with the activities of your daily life. Can you cook dinner, get dressed, take a shower?

Then comes the physical exam: the poking and prodding part of your visit. The doctor wants to see how your upper back pain affects your movement. Expect to sit, stand, reach, and bend in the exam room. After that, youre likely to get an X ray.

If symptoms persist or you have red flags such as a progressive weakness or bowel or bladder control problems, you may get more advanced testing, Dr. Knight says. He explains that MRI would be the likely choice.

Heres a look at several types of advanced testing for upper back pain.

When To Call Your Doctor Or 911

Upper Back Braces

Some of the causes of pain between the shoulder blades are serious and can be life-threatening.

If your symptoms are accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, lightheadedness, or even if you just have a “gut feeling” that something bad is happening in your body, call 911 right away. Don’t wait. Many of the serious causes of pain between the shoulders require urgent medical treatment.

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When To See A Doctor For Pain Between The Shoulder Blades

You should take pain between the shoulder blades serious, particularly if the pain is unusual, moderate, or severe.

This way, you can err on the side of caution if it turns out to be a minor problem.

Pain accompanied by other symptoms is a strong indication that there may be an underlying, possibly life-threatening, the condition causing the pain.

Seek medical attention immediately if you have pain between your shoulder blades and one or more of these symptoms:

  • Pain or tightness in the chest, arms, neck, or jaw
  • Fever
  • Redness, swelling, or pain in your legs
  • Paralysis on the left or right side of your body
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Loss of consciousness

Exercise To Stretch The Scalene Muscles

You simply have to tilt your head without inducing rotation, that is, bring the right ear closer to the right shoulder which allows the left part of the neck and upper back to be stretched. To do this, place your right hand on the top of your head and practice an inclination until you feel a tension that should not be painful. Remember to keep your shoulders straight and relaxed. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds and do the other side.

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What Treatment To Relieve And Treat Shoulder Blade Pain

  • Osteopathy: I put osteopathy in the first place because it is an extremely common reason for consultation in our practices. Your osteopath will have the expertise both to understand the origin of your pain according to the anamnesis but also to relieve you of this pain. On the other hand, given that it is a common reason for consultation, your osteopath will also be able to recognize whether it is a pathology that is not within his competence or a vital emergency. From the first pain , consider making an appointment with an osteopath. Do not wait too long before consulting because if the situation is not treated, there is a risk of inflammation of the tendon, that is to say of tendonitis.
  • Self-massage: In the evening, massage the painful scapula area for several minutes with a warming balm. You can also prepare your own massage oil by mixing 20 drops of vegetable oil with 5 drops of essential oil of Wintergreen which is anti-inflammatory and analgesic . Warning: this essential oil is contraindicated in pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as in children under the age of 6 and in people with eczema, asthma, ulcer or hiatus hernia.
  • Stretching: there are many different ones, I suggest a few below but do not hesitate to ask your osteopath to establish together the most suitable stretches for your pathology.

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Visit A Health Care Provider

Upper Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades? How to Relieve Trigger Points.

If the above treatments dont effectively reduce the pain under your shoulder blade, visit a physiatrist, chiropractor, or physical therapist. These health care providers will evaluate you for the source of the pain and can individually tailor plans that will help strengthen and stretch your upper back, neck, and core muscles. They might also provide manual manipulation, using hand maneuvers to loosen stiff muscles or misaligned joints.

You may need to take a trial and error approach with these tips. Try a combination of these treatment ideas to see what reduces the pain under your shoulder blade.

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You Were In A Car Accident

If youre able to walk away from a rear end crash and feel OK, you may decide not to get checked out by a doctor. However, whiplasha violent backward-and-forward jerk of the headcan create tears and inflammation of the muscles and ligaments in the neck and upper back, explains Dr. Chang. See your doctor if you suspect whiplash, especially if you have other symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and pain in your neck.

If You Still Have Concerns Consult Your Physician

This sums up everything you need to know about upper back pain between the shoulder blades. Proper evaluation is necessary to determine the appropriate treatment. Whats important to remember is that when it comes to back pain, it is essential to take it seriously. It might be a sign of something that could potentially cause irreversible damage to the body.

Before making assumptions, it is best to seek the opinion of a medical professional. Proper diagnosis is the first step toward recovery.

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Shoulder Under Constant Pressure

You lift the grocery, carry children, or rush to catch a bus or a train with your extended hand which may get pulled. Thus, most of the time, your hands along with shoulders are under pressure, leading to pain in the shoulder blades. In todays world of fast paced life, upper back pain can be the result of improper habits, which have their origin in modern lifestyle. Excessive stress which is an outcome of the modern lifestyle, can lead to pain under the shoulder blade.

Treating Shoulder Blade Pain

Causes of Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Whether you experience neck and shoulder pain on the left side or the right side, treatment mostly depends on the particular cause. Before you try any of the suggested methods to alleviate pain, you may want to exclude any possible underlying medical issues.

To do this, your physician can be of great help. After youve done all the necessary tests and your doctor is satisfied with the results, go ahead and find out what techniques can relieve tension from your upper back.

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What Causes Pain Between Your Shoulder Blades

Are you experiencing discomfort between shoulder blades and worry it might be something serious? Interscapular pain, aching in the upper back between the shoulder blades, can be a result of many conditions. The typical cause is muscle strain or tension, but it can also be an indication that there is something worse going on. You should see your doctor as there is the possibility that it can be a sign of lung cancer or a heart attack.

Overview Of Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain is classified as pain or discomfort in the area between your shoulder blades. This type of back pain can be mild or severe. It may be constant, or you may only notice it with activity.

Although back pain is very common, upper back pain is less common than lower back pain. This is because the bones in your upper and middle back are attached to your ribcage and are not as mobile as those in your neck or lower back.

Get to the bottom of your pain by coming to Dignity Health orthopedic services. Find a doctor or location that fits your needs.

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Perform Shoulder Stretches And Exercises

Stretching and exercising not only feel good, they can also reduce your shoulder pain in some cases. The cause of your pain between shoulder blades will dictate what kind of exercises you should do. For example, Heathline recommends a specific set of exercises to relieve text neck pain.

Speaking more generally, yoga is a gentle form of exercise that can increase flexibility and strength. Stronger muscles are better able to cope with everyday stressors and heal faster from injuries.

Whatever sort of exercise you choose to do, take it slow at first, especially if you arent used to regular exercise. The minute you feel sharp pain or discomfort, stop. You can either set a specific time to exercise every day, perform your exercises when your pain is at its lowest, or both.

How Can I Help Prevent Rhomboid Muscle Strain Or Spasm

How to stop burning between the shoulder blades and upper back pain with Alexander heyne

Here are some of the things you can do to help prevent rhomboid muscle strain or spasm:

  • Do warm-up exercises and stretching before activities to help prevent injuries.
  • When you work at a computer, take frequent breaks to stretch your neck and back.
  • Follow safety rules and use any protective equipment recommended for your work or sport.

In Neck Pain, Physical Therapy, Shoulder Pain by Seth Peterson, Physical Therapist Oro ValleyAugust 11, 2019

It can feel like squeezing, a dull ache, or like a hot poker getting driven into the area next to your shoulder blades. It can make it hard to breathe, hard to back the car up in the driveway, or make sitting almost unbearable. Its effects are clearbut the cause isnt so easy to determine.

As a physical therapist, I often see patients who have struggled with this for months thinking it was a pulled muscle. Doctor Google, massage therapists, or a well-meaning spouse pushing on the area was often cited as evidence. If you reference anatomy charts, youll see that this area of the spine has several layers of muscle. There are deep spinal muscles, muscles along the spinal column called the erector spinae, and groups of muscles that pull the shoulder blades together . However, similar to other areas in our body, you cant always tell whats causing the pain by pushing. Its true that this type of pain really isnt a poking matter.

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