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From the desk of Dr. Travis Arrington

Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades: Causes & Relief

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Back pain between the shoulder blades is a common complaint among families with kids, often resulting from poor posture or muscle strain. This type of upper back pain can be both uncomfortable and concerning, but understanding the underlying causes and potential treatments can help alleviate your worries. This article will delve into the various potential causes of inter-scapular pain, such as rotator cuff injuries, nerve compression or referred aches from other parts of the body.

We will explore the possible reasons behind inter-scapular pain, such as rotator cuff injuries or referred pain from other areas like the cervical spine. Additionally, we’ll discuss effective treatment options ranging from chiropractic to addressing any underlying spinal problems that may be present. Finally, we’ll provide practical prevention strategies for that pesky back pain the between shoulder blades so you and your family can maintain optimal spinal health.

Table of Contents:

Identifying Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Back pain between shoulder blades, also known as inter-scapular pain, can be a common issue for families with kids. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of inter-scapular pain early on is key to managing it. In this section, we will discuss how to identify the different types of discomfort that may arise from inter-scapular pain.

Symptoms of Inter-scapular Pain

  • Dull ache: A constant dull ache between your shoulder blades could indicate chronic upper back pain or a rib out of place.
  • Sharp or stabbing sensations: If you experience severe pain when moving your shoulders or taking deep breaths, this might signal an underlying spinal problem such as a herniated disc or pinched nerve.
  • Muscle tightness: Fixated (stuck) vertebra in your thoracic spine (upper back) and shoulder joints may cause discomfort in this area.
  • Pain radiating down arms: Referred pain from rotator cuff injuries or other issues affecting the cervical spine (neck) can lead to sensations extending down into your arms also called thoracic outlet syndrome.
  • Chest or abdominal discomfort: In some cases, intense back pain between shoulder blades accompanied by chest or abdominal pains might signify more serious conditions like heart problems or gallbladder issues. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional if you experience these symptoms together. source

Risk Factors for Developing Upper Back Pain

Adults and children should be aware of certain risk factors that can contribute to the development of upper back pain between shoulder blades. Some common risk factors include:

  • Poor posture: Slouching or hunching over a computer, phone, or tablet for extended periods can strain your upper back muscles and lead to discomfort and distorted posture.
  • Heavy lifting: Lifting heavy objects without proper technique can cause muscle strains or a slipped disc in the shoulders  or and upper back area.
  • Inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle may weaken your back muscles, making them more susceptible to injury and pain.
  • Certain activities: Repetitive movements involving the shoulder joint (such as swimming or tennis) may increase the likelihood of developing rotator cuff injuries which could manifest as inter-scapular pain. source

Differentiating Between Types of Pain

To effectively address and treat inter-scapular pain, it is essential first to identify its root cause. Here are some tips on how you might differentiate between various types of shoulder blade pain:

  1. If you experience intense sharp pains when moving your arm overhead or behind your body, this could indicate a rotator cuff injury.
  2. Moderate muscle tears typically involve resting soreness accompanied by increased discomfort during specific movements such as reaching forward or across the chest. If these actions trigger an increase in pain levels around your shoulder blades, it’s likely due to a muscle strain.
  3. A pinched nerve often presents with tingling sensations extending down into one’s arms along with localized sharp pains near their cervical spine (neck). If you experience these symptoms, it might be a sign of nerve compression.
  4. Myofascial pain syndrome is characterized by tender knots or “trigger points” in the muscles surrounding your shoulder blades. Pressing on these areas may cause referred pain to other parts of your upper back and shoulders.

Understanding the various signs and symptoms associated with inter-scapular pain can help families take appropriate steps towards addressing this common issue. In the following sections, we will discuss effective treatments and prevention strategies for back pain between shoulder blades.

Ruling Out Other Conditions

In some cases, what appears to be inter-scapular pain might actually stem from another condition entirely. For example:

  • Cervical radiculopathy: A pinched nerve in the neck region (cervical spine) can cause referred pain between the shoulder blades.
  • Gallbladder disease: Inflammation of this organ can lead to abdominal discomfort that radiates up towards the right shoulder blade area.

To ensure accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan development, it’s crucial for your healthcare professional not only to consider possible musculoskeletal causes but also to rule out any other potential sources of discomfort during the assessment process.

Tracing the source of backache between shoulder blades can be a perplexing challenge for households with youngsters, as it may often be tough to pinpoint precisely where the uneasiness is coming from. Figuring out the source of pain in the back between shoulder blades can be difficult for families with kids, but comprehending some possible causes may help to uncover what might be causing it and how best to address it.

Key Takeaway:

This section discusses how to identify and differentiate between different types of back pain between shoulder blades, such as muscle tightness or pinched nerves. It also highlights risk factors for developing upper back pain and emphasizes the importance of seeking professional help if self-care measures do not improve symptoms.

Causes of Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Understanding the common causes of this type of back pain is essential for families to help prevent and manage it effectively. In this section, we will discuss some prevalent reasons behind back pain between shoulder blades.

Poor Posture

Poor posture is one of the leading causes of back pain between shoulder blades. Slouching or hunching over a computer or smartphone can put undue stress on the muscles and ligaments in the upper back and neck, potentially leading to inter-scapular pain. Encourage maintaining proper posture while sitting, standing, or using electronic devices to reduce the risk of developing inter-scapular pain.

Muscle Strain

Muscle strains are another common cause of back pain between shoulder blades. Overexertion during physical activities like sports or lifting heavy objects can lead to muscle strains in the upper back region. Teach safe lifting techniques and ensure warming up before engaging in any strenuous activity.


Injuries such as falls, accidents during sports activities, or car crashes can result in damage to muscles, ligaments, or bones around the shoulder blade area causing inter-scapular pain. Make sure to wear appropriate protective gear when participating in high-risk activities like contact sports.

Spinal Conditions

Various spinal conditions can cause back pain between shoulder blades. These include:

  • Herniated Discs: A herniated disc occurs when the soft inner material of a spinal disc bulges out through a tear in its outer layer, causing pressure on nearby nerves and resulting in pain.
  • Degenerative Disc Disease: This condition involves the gradual wear and tear of spinal discs over time, leading to chronic discomfort in the upper back region.
  • Scoliosis: Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine that can lead to uneven distribution of weight across your back muscles, contributing to inter-scapular pain.

Gallbladder Issues

In some cases, gallbladder issues like gallstones or inflammation may cause referred pain between shoulder blades. If you suspect that upper back pain might be related to the gallbladder, consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment options.


Stress is another factor that can contribute to back pain between shoulder blades. When stressed, our bodies tend to tense up involuntarily - especially around our necks and shoulders - which could result in muscle stiffness or spasms leading to inter-scapular discomfort. Encourage practicing stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation regularly and regular chiropractic adjustments.

Lung Conditions

Rarely, certain lung conditions like pleurisy (inflammation of lung lining) or pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lungs) may cause referred pain between shoulder blades. If experiencing sudden, severe upper back pain accompanied by difficulty breathing or chest pain, seek immediate medical attention.

Understanding the common causes of back pain between shoulder blades is crucial for families to help prevent and manage this type of discomfort effectively. By being aware of these factors and taking appropriate preventative measures, you can ensure maintaining a healthy spine throughout life.

Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that attach to your shoulder joint, providing stability and allowing you to lift your arm overhead. Rotator cuff injuries are common among athletes who perform repetitive overhead motions like swimming or throwing a ball but can also occur due to trauma from falls or accidents.

Herniated Discs & Pinched Nerves

  • A herniated disc occurs when one of the spinal discs ruptures, causing its inner gel-like substance to leak out into surrounding areas sometimes compressing nearby nerves.
  • When surrounding tissues such as bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons apply too much pressure on a nerve, it can result in pinched nerves. This pressure disrupts the nerve’s function and causes pain in the affected area.

Both herniated discs and pinched nerves can cause referred pain between shoulder blades accompanied by numbness or tingling sensations down your arm.

Underlying Spinal Problems

Underlying spinal problems, such as scoliosis, kyphosis and degenerative disc disease can cause chronic upper back pain between shoulder blades. For more specialized treatment of the underlying spinal issues, a healthcare professional such as a chiropractor may be necessary.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome & Referred Pain

  • Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic condition that affects muscle tissue and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles). It involves trigger points tight knots within muscle fibers that produce localized discomfort when pressed on but also refer pain to other areas of the body, including between shoulder blades.
  • Referred pain, on the other hand, occurs when an issue in one part of your body causes you to experience severe inter-scapular pain even though there’s no apparent problem with your thoracic spine itself. For example, gallbladder problems can manifest as right-sided abdominal discomfort along with intense backaches near lower thoracic spine regions due to shared nerve pathways.

External Factors

Lastly, external factors such as carrying heavy shoulder bags or sitting in an uncomfortable chair leaning forward for extended periods can contribute to upper back pain between shoulder blades. It’s essential to address these lifestyle habits and make necessary adjustments to prevent pain.

In summary, there are various causes of back pain between shoulder blades ranging from poor posture and muscle strain to underlying spinal problems and referred pain. Uncovering the source is essential for discovering successful treatments and defensive plans for your family’s health.

Backache between shoulder blades can stem from a range of sources, such as posture misalignment and strain-related injuries. Fortunately, there are many effective treatments available to alleviate this type of back pain. Next, we will discuss the various ways chiropractic care can help treat back pain between shoulder blades.

Key Takeaway:

Back pain between shoulder blades can be caused by poor posture, muscle strain, injuries, spinal conditions such as herniated discs or scoliosis, gallbladder issues like gallstones or inflammation, stress and rarely lung conditions. To prevent and manage this type of discomfort effectively one should maintain proper posture while sitting or using electronic devices; practice safe lifting techniques before engaging in any strenuous activity; wear appropriate protective gear when participating in high-risk activities like contact sports; consult with a healthcare professional if experiencing sudden severe upper back pain accompanied by difficulty breathing or chest pain.

Treating Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades

To alleviate and prevent further injury, it is essential to identify effective treatments for back pain between the shoulder blades. In this section, we’ll explore various treatment options for upper back pain, including home remedies, and chiropractic care.

Home Remedies for Upper Back Pain Relief

There are several simple home remedies that can help reduce pain in your upper back muscles and shoulder area:

  • Cold or hot compresses: Applying ice packs or warm towels on the affected area can provide temporary relief from muscle strain and inflammation.
  • Pain relievers: Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can help manage mild to moderate muscle tears, including resting and reducing inflammation.
  • Gentle stretches: Engaging in gentle stretching exercises targeting the thoracic spine, rotator cuff muscles, and areas that may help relieve tension in tight muscles contributing to inter-scapular pain. Before beginning any new exercise regimen, it is recommended to consult your healthcare professional.

Physical Therapy for Chronic Upper Back Pain

If you continue to experience severe pain despite trying home remedies, consider seeking the guidance of a chiropractor who specializes in treating underlying spinal problems. A qualified doctor will assess your posture habits and design an individualized program aimed at strengthening weak muscles while improving flexibility around your cervical spine (neck) region as well as lower thoracic spine (mid-back).

Treatment Techniques Used by Physical Therapists Include:

  • Manual therapy: This hands-on approach involves mobilizing stiff joints and soft tissues to improve range of motion and reduce pain.
  • Therapeutic exercises: A chiropractic physical therapist will prescribe specific strengthening, stretching, and stabilization exercises to address muscle imbalances contributing to your discomfort.
  • Ergonomic advice: Your chiropractor may recommend adjustments in your workstation or daily activities to promote better posture habits that prevent upper back pain from recurring.

Chiropractic Care for Shoulder Blade Pain Relief

In many cases, shoulder blade pain can be caused by misalignments in the spine. Chiropractors are trained professionals who specialize in identifying and correcting these issues through gentle adjustments of the spine. They can also provide guidance on proper body mechanics during daily activities such as lifting heavy objects or maintaining good posture while sitting at a desk all day long.

Benefits of Chiropractic Treatment Include:

  • Correcting the cause of the Pain: By addressing underlying structural problems within the spine, chiropractic care may help alleviate referred pain between shoulder blades accompanied by poor posture or other musculoskeletal imbalances.
  • Injury prevention: Regular chiropractic visits help maintain optimal spinal alignment, reducing the risk of developing chronic upper back issues over time due to bad posture or repetitive stress injuries (RSIs).

Please note that it’s crucial always to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment plan for back pain between shoulder blades.

With the right treatment, back pain between shoulder blades can be managed effectively and resolved. Prevention strategies are essential for long-term relief and should not be overlooked.

Key Takeaway:

To alleviate back pain between shoulder blades, chiropractic care and physical therapy are effective options that can improve overall health. Stretching exercises like the cat-cow stretch and strengthening exercises such as rowing can also help, along with massage therapy and heat/cold therapy. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be used if necessary but it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for guidance on the most suitable approach.

Prevention Strategies for Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Preventing back pain between shoulder blades is essential to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, especially for families with kids who are constantly on the go. By understanding the common causes of this type of pain and implementing effective prevention strategies, you can reduce the likelihood of experiencing discomfort in this area. In this section, we will discuss various ways to prevent back pain between shoulder blades.

Maintain Proper Posture

One of the leading causes of back pain between shoulder blades is poor posture. Maintaining proper posture throughout your daily activities can significantly reduce strain on your muscles and ligaments in this region. Here are some tips to help improve your posture:

  • Sit up straight with both feet flat on the floor while working at a desk or computer.
  • Keep a straight stance and don’t stoop when on your feet or moving.
  • Use ergonomic furniture that supports good posture, such as an adjustable office chair or lumbar roll for lower back support.
  • Perform regular stretches and exercises focused on strengthening postural muscles (ie come to our Free Yoga Thursday at the office!).

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise, particularly those targeting core strength and flexibility, can help prevent muscle imbalances that contribute to upper back pain between shoulder blades. Incorporate these types of exercises into your routine:

  • Pilates: This low-impact workout focuses on improving core strength and stability by engaging deep abdominal muscles through controlled movements.
  • Yoga: Practicing yoga regularly helps improve flexibility, balance, and strength. Many poses target the muscles around the shoulder blades to help alleviate tension in this area.
  • Swimming: This full-body workout is a great low-impact option for strengthening your back muscles without putting excessive strain on your joints.

Take Breaks and Change Positions

Sitting or standing in one position for extended periods can lead to muscle fatigue and stiffness between shoulder blades. To prevent this discomfort, it’s essential to take breaks throughout the day:

  • Stand up and stretch every 60 minutes if you work at a desk job.
  • If possible, alternate between sitting and standing while working using an adjustable-height workstation or standing desk converter.
  • Change positions frequently during activities that require prolonged static postures (e.g., cooking or watching TV).

Use Proper Lifting Techniques

Lifting heavy objects incorrectly can cause strain on your upper back muscles leading to pain between shoulder blades. Follow these proper lifting techniques:

  • Bend at your knees instead of waist when picking up an object from the floor.
  • Avoid twisting while lifting; pivot with your feet instead of turning through your spine.
  • Keep heavy items close to your body as you lift them off the ground.
  • Ask for assistance when lifting objects that are too heavy or awkwardly shaped.

Key Takeaway:

To prevent back pain between shoulder blades, it is important to maintain proper posture, exercise regularly, take breaks and change positions frequently during prolonged static postures. Additionally, using proper lifting techniques can also help avoid muscle strain in the upper back region.

FAQs in Relation to Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Why is my back hurting in between my shoulder blades?

Back pain between the shoulder blades can be caused by various factors, including poor posture, muscle strain or overuse, spinal misalignment, and injuries. Additionally, underlying health conditions such as herniated discs or arthritis may contribute to this discomfort.

What is the main cause of pain between shoulder blades?

The primary cause of pain between the shoulder blades is often poor posture that causes compression on spinal nerves. Slouching and hunching over a computer or phone for extended periods can lead to muscle imbalances and nerve pressure in the upper back muscles that support your shoulders.

When should I worry about upper back pain between shoulder blades?

Contact our office at 385-308-1047 if you experience severe or persistent pain lasting more than a few days without improvement despite self-care measures. Other concerning symptoms include fever, unexplained weight loss, radiating arm pain, and numbness or tingling sensations in your arms, hands, or fingers.

Can upper back pain between shoulder blades radiate down arms?

Yes, it’s possible for upper back pain to radiate down your arms due to nerve compression from issues like subluxation of the vertebra, herniated discs or spinal stenosis. This type of referred pain may also be accompanied by numbness and tingling sensations in affected areas.


Figuring out what is causing the back pain between shoulder blades is essential for treating and preventing it from recurring. It could be due to poor posture, muscle strain, or underlying medical conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis.

Treating back pain between shoulder blades involves chiropractic and lifestyle changes such as maintaining proper posture and regular exercise. Prevention strategies include stretching exercises before any physical activity, avoiding prolonged sitting positions, and maintaining good posture while standing or sitting.

If you’re experiencing back pain between shoulder blades, don’t hesitate to seek help from our professional team at White Bison Well-Being for advice on how to manage it effectively. For further assistance with managing back pain between your shoulder blades, please reach out to Dr. Travis Arrington at White Bison Wellbeing for a free consultation call 385-308-1047.