Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Pain Between Shoulder Blades: Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Pain between shoulder blades can occur due to any number of reasons. It is a common occurrence due to simple strains or underlying serious health conditions. You need to know the exact reason for the pain. Therefore, you need medical assistance to detect the exact reason for your pain. It is difficult to determine the cause of your agony by yourself. With professional help, you can detect the problem leading to distress. It will help you take the necessary action to deal with the pain. You can also take preventive steps to avoid pain in the future. Do you wish to know the wide variety of triggers leading to the shoulder blade pain? Then read ahead to know the reasons and how to treat each issue to alleviate your pain.

What Is Pain Between Shoulder Blades?

Pain between shoulder blades The shoulder blades refer to the triangular bones. You can find it on the back of your shoulders. The region is medically referred to as scapulae. It is an important part of your body, which facilitates a range of motion. Shoulder blade connects your bone of the upper arm to the collarbone. Three groups of muscles also attach to the shoulder blades. The muscles connecting to your shoulder blade allow you to rotate your arm, move side to side or even move your hand in a circle. You use your shoulder for several activities. It also puts you at risk of injury or trauma. So, you can suffer from shoulder blade pain. While the pain as occurs due to simple reasons like injury, it can also point towards some severe issue.

Pain is your body’s way to signify some issues with your internal organs. You can suffer from the shoulder blade pain due to problems in the nearby organs. Therefore, serious problems can also lead to pain. When the pain becomes unbearable, it indicates you need medical attention immediately. So, see your doctor to find the exact reason, causing you the distress.

Causes Of Pain Between Shoulder Blades

The potential causes of shoulder blade pain vary. For simple cases, you can figure out the exact problem triggering the pain. For others, you need the assistance of a medical professional to detect the specific reason for your pain. Here are the causes that can lead to pain between shoulder blades:

Obvious Causes Of Pain Between Shoulder Blades

In such cases, it is easy to figure out the exact issue. The obvious reason triggering pain can include the following:

  • Straining due to lifting a heavy object
  • Sleeping in an odd or uncomfortable position
  • Trauma from an accident hit or fall

These conditions are easy to figure out as you know exactly when your pain starts. So, you can talk to a health care provider about the symptoms and get an ideal treatment plan.

Bone And Joint Issues Triggering Shoulder Blade Pain

Potential bone or joint problems can trigger joint pain. Your shoulder blade is one of the bones in the body. Therefore, it is susceptible to fractures. When you experience a trauma or fall, you are at risk of inflicting direct injury to the shoulder blades. In other cases, a certain degenerative condition can also trigger shoulder pain. So, the conditions leading to pain between shoulder blades are:

Among the degenerative diseases, a type of arthritis can affect people adversely. Ankylosing spondylitis is the condition that can affect any person of ages twenty to forty. The type of arthritis can affect your spine leading to pain and inflammation to the surrounding areas. So, you can experience shoulder blade pain.

Cancers Triggering Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Presence of malignant cells can trigger pain. But, certain cancers can inflict pain in your shoulders as well as the shoulder blades. The common type of cancers triggering shoulder blade pain are:

Musculoskeletal Causes

The musculoskeletal issues can develop into shoulder blade pain. It is a common problem affecting people. The problem is mostly related to the pain triggered in the muscle group that surrounds your shoulders. So, when you suffer some problem with the muscles in the region, including your arm muscles, it can trigger pain. The following problem can develop into shoulder blade pain:

  • Overuse of the muscles
  • Strains developed in the muscle region
  • Rotator cuff issues

Cardiac Issues Leading To Shoulder Blade Pain

Cardiac Issues Leading To Shoulder Blade Pain

Shoulder blade pain can occur due to serious causes like heart problems. The heart-related problems like a heart attack can cause pain in the left shoulder. It is a common sign among women. Therefore, you need to get advice from your doctor to detect the seriousness of the pain. People suffering from unexplained pain, especially women need to seek immediate medical attention. The other heart conditions triggering shoulder blade pain include:

  • Inflammation of the heart lining
  • A tear in the aorta

Pulmonary Causes Triggering Pain Between Shoulder Blades

An underlying lung condition can trigger pain in your shoulder blades. So, the following lung problems can result in shoulder blade pain:

  • Collapsed Lung
  • Clots traveling from your legs to the lungs
  • Cancer presence in the top part of the lungs

Abdominal Problems Causing Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Certain conditions in your abdomen can trigger shoulder blade pain. So, the complication in the abdomen that can trigger pain in shoulder blades are:

Diagnosis Of Pain Between Shoulder Blades

When you suffer from shoulder blade pain for a long time, then you need to seek medical treatment. It is important to establish the underlying problem triggering the pain.  After determining the exact cause, your doctor can develop a treatment plan.

Physical Assessment

The complete physical examination can help your doctor understand the problem triggering the shoulder blade pain. Your doctor will interview about the recent activities, your medical history, and your profession to determine the reason for your pain. It also helps determine if any simple problem triggers the pain.

A doctor will need to examine a person to work out what is causing the shoulder blade pain. Normal diagnosis starts with an interview in which the doctor will try to work out if there is any simple reason for the pain. After ruling out simple causes for your pain, then your doctor suggests the following tests to determine the actual problem.

Cardiac Problems

To detect the heart-related problems, your doctor can suggest electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) or stress test. An ECG can determine the abnormalities of your heart by measuring the electrical activity generated by the organ during contraction. While stress test measures your cardiovascular capacity when you perform some strenuous exercise.

Liver Problems

Abnormal liver function can lead to muscle cramps and shoulder blade pain. Therefore, your doctor can suggest a liver function test. It is a type of blood test that measures liver enzymes, protein levels, and bilirubin in your blood. Based on the test, your doctor can detect if a liver problem causes pain or not.

Abdominal Problems

Some abdominal problems can trigger shoulder blade pain. So, you need to undergo an endoscopy test to detect the actual issue.


The trauma or injury to your shoulder blades can trigger severe pain. The overuse of your shoulder blades or bad posture can also lead to pain. In such circumstances, your doctor can use sophisticated imaging techniques to see the damage. MRI scan or CT scans can provide a detailed image of your shoulder blade. So, your doctor can determine the exact problem triggering the pain.

Treatment To Alleviate Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Depending on the underlying problem, your doctor can develop a treatment plan. Therefore, the treatment option available are:

Simple Cases Of Pain Between Shoulder Blades

You can suffer from the shoulder blade pain due to excess strain, overuse, poor sleeping position, or bad posture. In such cases, your doctor suggests home remedies that can alleviate the pain. So, the range of treatments you can try at home are:


The overuse of the muscles can put a strain on your shoulder blades. The physical activities or movement can trigger pain. So, your doctor suggests pausing physical activities like exercises or household chores. You need to take rest for at least two days to reduce the overuse of your shoulder blades and diminish the pain. A sedentary life can make your pain worse, so never cease the activity for too long or stop it altogether.


Icing can reduce the inflammation on your shoulder blades. You need to wrap the ice in a cloth before applying it on your skin. Direct contact can lead to freezing burns. You can apply the ice on your back for ten to twenty minutes. It is advised to take at least a two-hour break between the icing sessions.


The pain between shoulder blades can pull you back from performing your everyday activities. Therefore, you can take over-the-counter medications can relieve the pain. You can get the medication from a drug store without a prescription. The medication can reduce the inflammation at the shoulder blades. It also prevents the pain signals from reaching your brain. So, you can consider taking the following medication:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Naproxen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Aspirin

You can also use medicated rubs in the area of pain. It will provide you relief from the pain and distress.



You can try some stretching exercises to relieve the knot or strain between the shoulder blades. So, you can try some exercises like shoulder raises, shoulder rolls, cross arm stretch, standing arm swings, etc. It will relieve the tightness or pain between the shoulder blades.



The pain between or underneath shoulder blade feels like a knot. You can relieve the pain by loosening the muscle. The self-massage can also increase blood circulation in the affected area. You can perform the massage and release tension. A foam roller can help you with releasing the knot at the painful spot. Just roll the foam roller and use it under your shoulder blade. Apply gentle pressure for less than a minute to get relief. If you find it difficult to use the foam roller, then find a professional massage therapist.

Serious Conditions Triggering Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Some serious health conditions can trigger pain between shoulder blades. The complications require immediate medical attention. Therefore, you need to get help from the hospital to deal with the following problems:


Some forms of cancer like lung cancer can trigger shoulder blade pain. It is due to the brain sensing the pain signals to the affected individual’s shoulders. So, you see other symptoms along with the pain like:

The doctor investigates further to detect the problem. Based on the severity of the issue, you need the following treatment:

Heart Problems

Cardiovascular problems like torn aorta and heart attack can radiate the pain to shoulder blades. In such cases, your doctor can suggest the following treatment options:

  • Medications

You are offered medication to clear the clots and ensure normal blood flow. The medication is also provided for pain relief.

  • Surgery

The surgery is suggested by your doctor when the attack is severe. The invasive procedure repairs the torn veins and clears the blocks. So, it allows the blood to pass through your heart without any interruption.

If treatment does not work, people must talk to their doctor to see whether their treatment needs changing or adjusting.

When To See A Doctor For Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Some harmless incidents can lead to shoulder blade pain. Lifting too much weight or recent fall from a high place can cause you agony. The wrong sleeping posture can also lead to shoulder blade pain. Bad mattress or sleeping on one side for a long time can lead to pain. But, if you cannot explain the shoulder blade pain, then you need to see your doctor immediately. Women must keep track of the changes in the body and see a doctor to get immediate treatment. The pain between shoulder blades points towards a heart attack. The serious condition can come with other signs like:

Preventing Pain Between Shoulder Blades

You can prevent the pain between shoulder blades by avoiding injury or trauma. Try not to overuse the muscles in the area as it can put a strain on them. You can adopt a healthy lifestyle to prevent issues with your heart and liver, which trigger should blade pain. So, try to follow the pointers suggested below to keep the pain at bay.

Avoid Trauma

By following some steps suggested below, you can avoid the risk of getting hurt. It can prevent shoulder blades pain.

  • You have to avoid the potential risk of getting hurt due to falls. Try to prevent such incidents by maintaining caution.
  • While traveling in a car, wear a seatbelt. You can never predict accidents. Therefore, it is important to follow safety guideline while traveling in a four-wheeler to avoid any harm to your health.
  • When you start a new workout routine, try to ease into it. Never put too much strain on your shoulders as it can put you in trouble. Therefore, start slow and increase the resistance of the new workout gradually.

Poor posture

Poor posture


It is the most common reason for experiencing pain between shoulder blades. When you sit at your desk or in front of a computer/laptop, you tend to slouch forward. The motion can make your shoulder to round forward. It can lead to bad shoulder movement, which puts you at risk of inflammation. Therefore, try to focus on maintaining good posture. You need to keep your chest open, shoulder blades stable, and shoulder back to improve your posture. Try to change your sleeping position too.

Well-Balanced Diet

Adopting healthy habits can keep the problem of liver and heart at bay. So, you can avoid the shoulder blade pain triggered due to serious heart and lung complications. Include a diet rich in nutrients, which can strengthen your immune system. The well-balanced diet also keeps your weight in check and avoids unnecessary health complications.

Moderate Exercise

Including exercise can keep you fit. It will keep away different illness that can affect you due to poor lifestyle. So, try to get moderate exercise to overcome shoulder pain. You can also include exercise to strengthen the shoulder blades. It will help overcome any inflammation or other trauma affecting your shoulder blades.


You need to stretch your muscles to enhance the range of motions. If you are working for a long time on your desk or computer, then stretching can make your muscles lose the rigidity. It will improve the flexibility of your muscles and prevent any injury or trauma. So, you can prevent the pain between shoulder blades successfully.


The simple reasons causing you pain between shoulder blades can recover with minimal medical assistance. With proper care, you can overcome the pain and distress triggered by the shoulder blades pain. Depending on the severity of the condition, you require treatment. The duration of the treatment also varies with the cause. Serious problems can increase the length of the treatment as well as recovery time. You need to get the expert opinion from your doctor to determine the most effective treatment plan to address the underlying issue. Never ignore the pain between shoulder blades. With proper care and medical care, you can get relief from the pain bothering your daily life.

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