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Causes and Treatment of Shoulder Pain

Discomfort in between the shoulder blades is widespread. Physicians describe this discomfort as intrascapular pain. Individuals with shoulder blade discomfort commonly have hurting, dull, aching, or shooting pain in the upper part of their back in between their shoulder blades. Usually, shoulder blade discomfort isn't anything to worry about. However, sometimes it can be an indication of a much more severe condition.

shoulder pain: causes and treatment


There are many possible causes for discomfort in between your shoulder blades. An injury to a muscle or tendon is a usual trigger for this kind of pain. Muscle strains can arise from:

  • hefty training;
  • poor posture;
  • working at a computer for extended periods;
  • workout;
  • other activities.

In some cases, you can even strain a muscle during sleep.

Injuries to other parts of your body, such as rotator cuff tears, spine fractures, or other injuries that create trauma, can likewise cause pain in between your shoulder blades.

Other causes for shoulder blade pain consist of:

  • degenerative disc disease, or a herniated disc in the spine;
  • scoliosis;
  • osteoarthritis in the joints around your neck, spine, or ribs;
  • spinal stenosis, or a narrowing of your spinal cord;
  • heartburn;
  • fibromyalgia;
  • shingles;
  • myofascial pain syndrome;
  • some cancers, such as lung cancer, lymphomas, liver cancer, esophageal cancer, mesothelioma, as well as cancers that infect bones;
  • nerve compression;
  • gallstone, which is typically accompanied by nausea and discomfort in the upper right part of your abdominal area.

Shoulder blade pain is sometimes a symptom of heart attack, particularly among women. Other signs, such as chest discomfort and shortness of breath, might be present. You should seek emergency medical treatment if you experience these symptoms.

Thoracic aorta rupture or aortic dissection happens when you have a tear or rupture in the large blood vessel's inner layer that branches off your heart. That can trigger a sharp, severe discomfort in your upper middle back. If this happens, you need to immediately call your local emergency services, as an aortic tear is considered a medical emergency.

Pulmonary embolism is another severe problem that can cause shoulder blade discomfort. Some individuals report a sharp pain in their shoulder blades when blood clots in their legs break short and spread to their lungs. Lack of breath is additionally a symptom of pulmonary embolism. Look for clinical help right away if you think you have a pulmonary blood clot.

When to See a Physician

consult a doctor

You should see a doctor if your discomfort is severe, uncommon, or doesn't go away. Pain is an indicator that something could be wrong. Your condition might not be severe. However, if it's irritating in any way, you may want to check it out.

If specific symptoms accompany your shoulder blade pain, it could mean you have a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment. Seek help as soon as possible if you have pain between your shoulder blades together with:

  • shortness of breath;
  • chest pain;
  • lightheadedness;
  • extreme sweating;
  • pain, swelling, or redness in your legs;
  • coughing up blood;
  • fever;
  • rapid or irregular heartbeat;
  • sudden difficulty speaking;
  • loss of vision;
  • paralysis on one side of your body;
  • loss of consciousness.

Treatment for your shoulder blade pain will depend on the cause and also the severity of your condition. Recovery time will differ from one person to another.

Home Remedy

Some individuals find relief from shoulder blade discomfort with therapies performed at home.

Therapy performed at home



Physical activity is essential for overall wellness, but exercise can likewise strengthen your back areas, helping with the pain. Push-ups, pullups, and sit ups are great exercises to strengthen muscles in your back and abdominal area.

exercise for healthy shoulders



Yoga exercise and other stretching techniques can improve blood circulation to your muscles and joints. This can offer better mobility as well as pain relief.

This shoulder stretch occasionally helps:

  1. Cross one arm over your body.
  2. Use your other arm to pull the elbow of your outstretched arm towards your chest.
  3. Hold this stretch for about 10 seconds.

Ask your doctor concerning various other stretches that might reduce your discomfort.

yoga exercise for pain


Particular foods can cause inflammation in your body that might worsen your symptoms. Avoid processed foods, eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Choosing foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, might also help.


Occasionally, you need rest to recover from your shoulder blade discomfort, mainly if it's the outcome of an injury.

Ice or heat treatment

Using hot and cold compresses in between your shoulder blades may relieve pain. Generally, it's best to use them for 15 minutes at once, every four hours.


Massage or physical therapy may provide relief in many cases, mainly if the discomfort is triggered by overuse of your muscles or joints or an injury.

Learn more about Massage for Back Pain

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Massage treatment

A massage therapist can work with areas in between your shoulder blades to relax muscles. You can additionally get portable massage gadgets to use at home.

Physical therapy

If you have an injury or a compressed nerve, your physician might advise physical therapy. A specialist will help you do specific exercises that might improve your symptoms.


Certain drugs can help relieve pain and discomfort in between your shoulder blades. These might consist of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil (ibuprofen, Motrin IB). In some cases, steroids are given as a pill or injection to help with pain and inflammation. Muscle relaxers and even antidepressants are also prescribed for certain conditions involving the shoulder blades.


Although uncommon, your doctor might advise surgical treatment if your shoulder blade pain is severe or caused by a treatable injury. This may include removing scar tissue or repairing tendons in your shoulder or upper back area. Ninety percent of people with shoulder blade pain will undoubtedly respond to nonsurgical options, such as rest, exercise, and drugs.


Your outlook will rely on what's triggering your shoulder blade discomfort and also the severity of your problem.

Most of the time, pain between the shoulder blades is a temporary disorder that will go away with rest and proper treatment. However, the discomfort may be a lifelong problem for some individuals.

Tips for prevention

The following actions can help prevent shoulder blade pain:

  • Practice good posture. Try to stand and sit tall and avoid slouching. You may wish to purchase an ergonomic chair or a special pillow to help with spinal and neck alignment.
  • Do not lift heavy items. Hefty lifting can cause injuries, which might set off pain between your shoulder blades. Avoid carrying heavy bags on one shoulder. If you have to lift something, make sure to bend your knees and try not to pressure your back.
  • Don't sit for long. Get up and stretch regularly when you're working at a computer system or desk. This can help keep muscles loose. You can try utilizing a standing work desk.
  • Take on healthy habits. Make sure to eat whole foods, get 7 to 8 hours of rest each night, and exercise at least three days a week. A healthy lifestyle can help you feel more energetic and rested, helping you with pain.

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