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What Can Cause Upper Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Nucleoplasty Coblation For Disc Herniation

INSTANTLY Relieve Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades! (3 easy options)

A 2015 study in the journal Medicine , found coblation technology or nucleoplasty can be an effective, minimally invasive and safe procedure for chronic cervical disc herniation that is producing upper back pain. This usually requires no general anesthesia and is more like a spinal injection procedure as an outpatient procedure.

Shoulder Blades Are Too Low

The shoulder blades are suspended from your neck and upper back by muscles. Normally your shoulder blades hang between the second and seventh thoracic vertebrae .

If one shoulder blade is hanging too low, it can cause compression of the joints and nerves in the lower part of the neck. This can cause referred pain into the upper back and shoulder blades.

Additionally, when the shoulder blades hang too low, it pulls on muscles in the upper back . This can also cause upper back pain between the shoulder blades.

Causes Of Back Pain Between The Shoulder Blades

Lets start with some of the causes for pain between the shoulder blades, looking at the layers from the outside in.

Acute injuries to the skin in this region usually have an obvious explanation, such as a burn or chemical irritation. These injuries are treated symptomatically, and the pain should resolve.

There are examples of chronic pain that involve the skin in the interscapular region that may require ongoing symptom and pain management. Although relatively uncommon, they may cause distress when present.

One example is shingles, a common condition developed later in life by people who had Chicken Pox when they were younger. Usually, the pain resolves as the shingles rash subsides, but in about 10 percent of people with shingles, there may be chronic burning pain, known as post-herpetic neuralgia. Another example of a chronic sensory complaint that involves the skin in the area between the shoulder blades is notalgia paresthetica, a dermatologic complaint with one-sided itching between the spine and the shoulder blade. Again, this dermatomal distribution indicates involvement of the upper thoracic spinal nerves. This condition may have also prompted the invention of the back scratcher for this hard-to-reach location.

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    Soft Tissues and Muscles

  • Infections in the upper thoracic vertebrae or the discs may cause pain between the shoulder blades. These infections are usually treated with antibiotics, although surgery may be required in some situations.

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    What Are Possible Complications Of Neck And Back Pain

    Complications of back and neck pain may include:

    • Loss of productivity. Back pain is the most common reason for disability in working adults.
    • Nerve damage. If your back pain is from a herniated disk, pressure on the spinal nerves may cause a variety of problems, such as weakness, numbness, or severe shooting pain that travels from the back to the leg.
    • Depression. Back or neck pain can disrupt all aspects of life. This includes work, physical exercise, social activities, and sleep. The anxiety and stress caused by the change in movement and pain can lead to depression.
    • Weight gain. Loss of movement and inability to exercise can lead to weight gain and the loss of muscle strength.

    It is a good idea to see a healthcare provider if you have numbness or tingling, or if your pain is severe and does not get better with medicine and rest. If you have trouble urinating, weakness, pain, or numbness in your legs, fever, or unintentional weight loss, call your healthcare provider right away.

    Understanding The Shoulder Blades

    upper back Archives

    The shoulder blades, or scapulae, are the large triangular bones located at each side of the upper shoulder.

    They are connected to the collarbone and allow a range of motions such as pivoting up or down, side to side, and shoulder rotation. But the flexibility of the blades is what makes them susceptible to injury or trauma.

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    Things That Can Cause Pain Between Your Shoulder Blades

    December 2, 2021 6:06 pm / Category: Wellness

    It is very common for a person to experience discomfort between their shoulder blades. You know it weve all been there. Overuse, strains, sleeping awkwardly, and rotator cuff issues all fall into this category. These problems are often related to pain in the muscle groups surrounding the shoulders, including some of the arm muscles. Heres why you may feel pain between your shoulder bladesand how to find relief from the discomfort. If you want assistance to get to the root cause of your issues we are here!

    Take Your Symptoms Seriously And Get To The Root Of Your Pain

    Pain between the shoulder blades can range from a simple ache to completely disabling pain. It is important to get the pain diagnosed and treated before it gets worse.

    Do not ignore interscapular pain. Use some of the conservative treatments and if they dont work seek medical advice. Get to the root of your problem without delay.

    Want to know more about the pain in your upper back between your shoulder blades? Contact us and we will help you out.


  • Briggs, A.M., Smith, A.J., Straker, L.M. et al. Thoracic spine pain in the general population: Prevalence, incidence and associated factors in children, adolescents, and adults. A systematic review. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 10, 77 .
  • . Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care 2006-. Low back pain: Why movement is so important for back pain. 2012 Feb 9 . Available from:
  • Wong CC, McGirt MJ. Vertebral compression fractures: a review of current management and multimodal therapy. J Multidiscip Healthc. 2013 6:205-214. Published 2013 Jun 17. doi:10.2147/JMDH.S31659
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    How Should I Sleep To Relieve Upper Back Pain

    Side and back sleeping are often the best positions to rest in if you are dealing with upper back pain.

    When side sleeping, it is important that your mattress not be too firm, otherwise pressure points can form near the joints. A soft to medium firmness typically works best for side sleepers. When opting for a softer mattress, be sure the mattress does not cause excessive sinking. If the hips and shoulders too far into the bed, the spine may bow, leading to tension in the back.

    When looking for a mattress for back sleepers, choose something with a medium to medium-firm comfort level tends to work best. This firmness will keep body weight evenly distributed, so no one area of the body sinks too far into the bed. This will keep the spine natural and alleviate tension in the back.

    What Is The Upper Back

    Rhomboid Pain (Shoulder Blade Discomfort)

    If you want to understand your upper back pain, start with an anatomy lesson.

    Pain in the upper and/or mid back is less common than lower back or neck pain. One 2015 Mayo Clinic review of studies suggests that about a third of people get lower back or neck pain , compared to less than one-fifth reporting upper back pain.

    The upper back is the region below the cervical spine and above the low back . The upper back is called the thoracic spine, and it is the most stable part of the spine. The range of motion in the upper back is limited because of the spines attachments to the ribs .

    Think of your spine as a tree trunk. It keeps you standing upright. It connects parts of your skeleton to each other. It carries the weight of your upper body.

    Since thats a massive job, the spine itself shares some of the physical load with nearby muscles, some of which include:

    • Trapezius: Near your shoulder blade, helps you stand straight and throw

    • Latissimus dorsi: Lower on your back, helps with arm movement and breathing

    • Rhomboids: Adjacent to trapezius, supports your shoulders and helps you pull

    When you hurt your upper or mid back doing yard work or playing tennis, chances are high youve injured one of these muscles. The most common reason we see people with upper back pain is a simple musculoskeletal strain, says Reginald Knight, MD, Director of Bassett Spine Care Institute in Cooperstown, NY.

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    Upper Back Muscle Strain

    More often than not, youll know if you strained a muscle in your upper back right when it happens. It typically occurs when lifting too heavy, with improper form, or a combination of both. Youll feel the strain right after it happens, it will be a burning pain between your shoulder blades.

    This can also be caused by just having poor posture, however. In this instance, the pain will likely come on slowly over a period of time.

    If you feel like you strained you upper back, rest and recovery are the best medicine. It will heal itself over time, youll just need to take it easy for a bit.

    Understanding Upper Back Pain Between The Shoulder Blades

    Upper back pain between the shoulder blades is also known as interscapular pain. Fifteen percent of the population suffers from chronic upper back pain.

    Finding the source of interscapular pain can be tricky because the upper back houses many important structures like the heart, the upper lobes of the lung, the cervical spine, the scapulas, and a dozen or so of muscles and nerves.

    This article goes over what can cause upper back pain between your shoulder blades and how to treat it.

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    How Do You Release A Knot In Your Shoulder Blade

    Treatment Rest. Allow your body to rest if you have muscle knots. Stretch. Gentle stretching that elongates your muscles can help you to release tension in your body. Exercise. Aerobic exercise may help to relieve muscle knots. Hot and cold therapy. Use a muscle rub. Trigger point pressure release. Physical therapy.

    Do You Have Shoulder Blade Pain

    Self Care

    It is important to understand that there are many different types of shoulder pain. There is shoulder pain that occurs on the front of the shoulder, on the back of the shoulder, and between the shoulders. Experiencing the symptoms of pain between the shoulder blades, otherwise known as interscapular pain, can range from mild discomfort to debilitating and concerning. It can also lead to right shoulder pain or left shoulder pain.

    Pain between the shoulder blades

    To determine the severity of the condition, the source of the pain must be identified. The purpose of this article is to explore two common musculoskeletal causes of pain between shoulder blades, as well as mention other conditions that may cause pain between shoulder blades.

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    The Ache Wont Go Away

    Youve tried the DIY treatments, gotten massages, and maybe even bought a new mattress. If your upper back is persistently hurting, it mayvery rarelybe a sign of a lung tumor. The American Cancer Society points out that advanced lung cancer may contribute to bone pain. Weight loss, chest pain, and weakness are also signs of lung cancer.

    Burning Under The Shoulder Blade

    This is a signal of developed intercostal neuralgia, a prolonged deforming process in the spine. However, the most characteristic feeling of burning pain for an attack of angina and a more serious, life-threatening condition â myocardial infarction. The feeling of pressure, burning under the shoulder blade of the left, not stopped by heart medications is a reason to call emergency medical care, especially if the symptom is accompanied by pain in the lower jaw, neck, back, shortness of breath, cyanosis of the skin. In addition, a burning sensation under the scapula, on the left side, may be evidence of a psychogenic disease â vegetative-vascular dystonia, when in addition to a painful symptom a person feels a strong feeling of fear, a hand tremor appears, tachycardia, a lump in the throat.

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    Costotransverse Joints & Pain Between Shoulder Blades

    A 2008 study in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders showed pain patterns between the shoulder blades of the costotransverse joints, which articulate the thoracic spine and the ribs. The point space is surrounded by an articular capsule and ligaments which limit mobility to gliding motions. It is bounded rib tubercle and thoracic transverse process, and is further limited by the close biomechanical relationship between the costotransverse and costovertebral joints. Pain usually responds to manipulation and exercise.

    Evaluation Of Back Pain Between The Shoulder Blades

    Fix Rhomboid Pain (Mid-Back & Shoulder Blade Pain) 5 Self Treatments That Work

    The first step in the evaluation of pain between the shoulder blades is understanding the history and characteristics of the pain. Your health care provider needs to ask a series of questions to understand the location of the pain, how rapidly it came on, the type of pain, things that make it worse or better and associated symptoms. These questions may include:

    • Where is your pain located?
    • Is it on one side or both?
    • How long have you had this pain?
    • Did it come on suddenly or gradually?
    • Were you doing any particular activity when it started?
    • Have you ever had pain like this before?
    • How severe is the pain?
    • What does the pain feel like for example, is it aching, sharp, stabbing, throbbing, burning?
    • Is there anything that makes the pain better or worse?
    • Are there any associated symptoms, like numbness or tingling in the arms, chest pain, shortness of breath, weight loss, fever?

    The answers to these questions may provide some very important clues regarding the cause of the pain.

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    Physical Examination

  • The next step in the evaluation is to perform a physical examination. Your health care provider will want to examine the area between the shoulder blades to assess for skin changes, palpate the soft tissues in this region for tenderness and the location of the pain, and assess the surrounding structures such as the spine and shoulder blade to help determine if those structures are involved.

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    Video: Cervical Herniated Disc

    A cervical herniated disc occurs when the inner portion of a disc in the cervical spineor neckruptures through the outer wall of the disc.Watch Now

    A herniated disc in the cervical spine occurs when a discs outer layer tears and the inner layer starts to leak outward. A disc herniation can cause pain and may inflame a nearby nerve root that radiates pain down into the shoulder, arm, and/or hand. A disc herniation in the lower cervical spine is more likely to radiate pain into or near the shoulder blade area.1 While less common, its also possible for a disc herniation in the thoracic spine to cause pain near the shoulder blade.

    See Cervical Herniated Disc Symptoms and Treatment Options

    Bruise Or Injured Ribs

    Bruised or injured ribs can result in temporary pain between the shoulders blades. Similarly, injuries such as whiplash, spinal fractures, herniated discs, and degenerative disc disease can all lead to this type of pain.

    These types of injuries usually heal on their own within a few weeks or months. The pain can be excruciating initially, but it will eventually subside once the injury heals.

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    How Is Upper Back Pain Diagnosed

    Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your medical history, activity level and symptoms. They will also ask you questions about your pain. These questions may include:

    • When did the pain start?
    • Where does the pain hurt the most?
    • Does anything you do make the pain feel better?
    • Does anything you do make the pain feel worse?

    Your healthcare provider may do a physical exam. They may have you lift or bend your legs to see how moving affects your pain. Your healthcare provider may test your muscle strength and reflexes.

    Depending on what your healthcare provider finds, they may order additional tests. These tests may include:

    • Spine X-ray: Uses radiation to produce images of the bones in your spine.
    • Magnetic resonance imaging scan: Uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of your bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues in your spine.
    • Computed tomography scan: Uses X-rays and a computer to create 3D images of the bones and soft tissues in the spine.
    • Electromyography : Tests the nerves and muscles in your spine and checks for nerve damage , which can cause tingling or numbness in your legs.
    • Blood test: Can detect genetic markers for some conditions that cause back pain.

    Herniated Or Bulging Discs

    upper back Archives

    Degenerative disc disease in the cervical spine or thoracic spine can irritate or press on your nerves or spine. This can lead to pain between your shoulders.

    Other symptoms of a herniated disc include:

    • Pain in one or both arms

    Sometimes pain caused by disc disease in the neck is positional, meaning it can get better or worse when you flex or extend your neck.

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    Anatomy Of The Upper Back And Shoulders

    To better understand the types of injuries and medical issues that can cause pain in the upper back between the shoulders, its helpful to understand the anatomy of the area.

    Pain in the upper back and shoulders can usually be attributed to muscles and nerves connecting to the thoracic or cervical spine, says Dean Padavan, M.D., associate program director of the primary care sports medicine fellowship at Atlantic Health System in New Jersey. The cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae in the neck that connect to the 12 vertebrae of the thoracic spine, which is the largest section of the spinal column. The thoracic spine protects your spinal cord and anchors to the 12 ribs.

    Many muscles are located in the thoracic region, including the trapezius, rhomboids , serratus anterior, levator scapula and latissimus dorsi, all of which are connected to your shoulder or shoulder blade along the thoracic spine. And, from the front of the body, the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor attach to the upper back.

    Dr. Padavan offers a less clinical way for patients to picture the area. A lot of physicians use a highway analogy to describe the various structures of the back. The main highway is your brain and spinal cord, smaller dividing roads are the nerves that travel across your body and the landscape around these roads make up your muscles and tendons, he says.


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