Ultimate Guide to Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Ultimate Guide to Pain Between Shoulder Blades

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What are the causes of pain between shoulder blades? Read this article to find out.

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Shoulder blades are surrounded by tissues and muscles which aid in their movement and any pain can indicate a problem with the body. Children, men, and women of all ethnicities and races can experience pain between shoulder blades. You may suffer the pain during pregnancy, after eating, when sneezing or when breathing. You may not be able to reach the painful area between your shoulder blades but the discomfort is evident. Depending on the intensity of the pain, the ache may be dull, deep, throbbing, stabbing, sharp or burning. The pain can even extend to the neck and arms.

Shoulder Pain Symptoms

Pain between the Left and Right Scapula

Outside of Shoulder: Outside of the shoulder pain is often a deep muscle pain. The most common cause is a rotator cuff problem like tendonitis, bursitis, or a rotator cuff tear.

Top of Shoulder: The most common top shoulder pain causes is an abnormal AC joint, which includes AC arthritis, distal clavicle osteolysis, and shoulder separations.

Front of Shoulder: Front of shoulder Pain is most commonly related to the biceps tendon, which attaches deep inside the shoulder. The causes include biceps tendinitis, SLAP tears, and biceps tears.

Constant pain:  Constant shoulder pain can be caused by a frozen shoulder, which is usually sharp painful when reaching behind your back or head.

Night pain: Rotator cuff problems can cause night shoulder pain. The reasoning of rotator cuff problems is unclear now.

Causes of Pain between Shoulder Blades (Left and Right Scapula)


If you have suffered any injury, you may experience pain between your shoulder blades. You can suffer muscular and bone injury if you were involved in an accident or when playing sports. Inflammation of tendons or tissues and broken bones may cause constant aggravating pain especially when you move. The injury may have torn or strained the tendons and ligaments on your thoracic back thus the pain. Joint dislocation or joint malfunction, whiplash injuries, muscular irritation, disc injuries and muscular irritation can also bring about the pain.

Referred pain

The pain can be reflective or referred. This is pain felt at a location other than where the problem exists. If the pain doesn’t change when you move your arm, neck or shoulder, the pain may be a symptom of a problem somewhere else in your body. Referred shoulder pain may be due to blood vessel problems, thoracic outlet syndrome, abdominal problems, gas or diseases.

Posture problem

Posture is one of the common culprits of thoracic spine pain. The round shoulder forward head posture can cause the upper back pain. Pecs located in the front part of the chest pull the shoulders forward when sitting hunched over a computer, desk and other work related positions. This in turn pulls the pectoralis muscles tight and strong thus rounding the shoulders. There are back muscles that help balance the forward position by opposing the forward pectoralis muscles and keeping the shoulders blades back and down. The problem arises when the pectoralis muscles are chronically tight thus overpowering the weaker back muscles. The weaker muscles overstretch and begin to hurt thus causing upper back pain.

Too much stress

If you are constantly exposed to stress, you may suffer from the chronic problem, which can lead to consistent upper back pain. Repetitive or chronic stress can cause overstretching of the area. This means the pain between shoulder blades can persist for long. Other than mental stress, repeated physical exertion such as rock climbing and weight lifting can cause stress patterns. Pain can accompany the stressful situation. You may know if the pain was caused by stress if it stops after a few days or when you are no longer stressed.


Another cause of pain between the left and right scapula is disease. A disease such as gallbladder or gallstone can cause the pain. The pain may be accompanied by vomiting and sweating. The pain could last from a few minutes to several hours. Arthritis, osteoporosis, lung problems such as pneumonia, heart diseases such as a heart attack and disease of the spine can cause the pain too.

Frozen shoulder

Middle-aged people are likely to suffer from frozen shoulder. It leads to pain when you move your shoulder. The condition is uncommon in youth but common among women and increases if you are diabetic. The shoulder freezes and you develop pain that gets worse as you lose motion in your shoulder. The shoulder remains stiff and frozen, which is the second stage after freezing. During the recovery stage, your shoulder begins to thaw as you begin to get the movement back in your shoulder. Symptoms of this condition include restricted range of movement, dull pain and stiffness around the affected shoulder joint.


Lung cancer warning symptoms can include pain between your shoulder blades. It is sometimes the first common symptom of lung cancer. Liver cancer, breast cancer, and esophageal cancer can also contribute to the pain.

How to Relief Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Treating thoracic pain can be anything between rest and surgery. However, there are common treatment options you can go for. In order to plan the correct treatment, you have to identify the exact cause of your pain.

Massage therapy

An expert massage therapist can administer techniques that can give relief. Massage can be applied on the pecs to lengthen the tight muscles and shorten the opposing muscles back to their normal length. A therapist who understands the physiology behind the pain patterns can help. He or she should work on traps and rhomboids as well as pectoralis major and minor to stop the symptoms from reappearing quickly and to offer you relief.

This is a very useful shoulder, neck & back pain relief massage:


Over-the-counter medication can help keep the pain away. If the pain is caused by a sports injury, arthritis or rotator cuff injury, you may seek prescription and over-the-counter pain medications.


Shoulder blade pain relief can also be achieved by resting. Tasks that put pressure on your shoulder can aggravate the pain. You should rest the shoulder properly after regular intervals of time. You can rest the shoulder by supporting your back with a chair with a backrest or lying flat on the floor. Resting also includes reducing your stress levels. Keep yourself relaxed both mentally and physically.

Physical therapy

You can do some physical exercises such as stretching to relieve your pain. Yoga is also another simple exercise that can help to control your shoulder pain by relaxing the fatigued shoulder muscles.


Try acupuncture to stop the pain between the shoulder blades. The treatment involves balancing the nervous system, inducing a relaxation response and increasing local tissue circulation.

When to see the physician:

  • If your arm will not raise
  • If your shoulder joint is deformed
  • If there is swelling or significant bruising around the arm or joint
  • If the pain between shoulder blades increases when resting or at nighttime
  • If the pain is accompanied by fever, warmth or redness

I hope this ultimate guide to pain between shoulder blades is helpful for you.

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