Symptom

Upper Back Pain Between The Shoulder Blades

Are you experiencing upper back pain between your shoulder blades? If you or someone you know is dealing with this discomfort, you can understand the importance of finding answers as to why it occurs and, most importantly, seeking effective relief.

Pain in the upper back and between the shoulder blades is a common discomfort that can be relentless and have a significant impact on your daily life. The purpose of this article is to provide valuable insights into the intricate anatomy of the shoulder and help you understand how this complex joint works.

By shedding light on the mechanics of the shoulder, we aim to uncover the possible reasons as to why pain occurs in the upper back and between the shoulder blades.

We will discuss the multiple factors that contribute to this common issue, including individual and lifestyle factors, as well as underlying medical conditions, in order to shed light on the potential causes of this discomfort.

We understand the importance of finding relief from this pain, so we will discuss the wide range of options that are available to help you alleviate it. From simple self-care measures to commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals and physical therapy, we’ll talk through each method.

Additionally, we will present the innovative Neurofunctional Pain Management techniques offered by Neuragenex that provide effective relief from chronic upper back pain and discomfort between the shoulder blades. These non-invasive and drug-free approaches offer promising solutions for managing your pain and improving overall well-being.

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the shoulder’s anatomy to better understand what might be causing your shoulder pain and upper back discomfort.

 

Shoulder Anatomy

The shoulder joint is a complex structure that has a large range of motion, making it one of the most mobile joints in the human body. However, this very flexibility also makes it susceptible to various types of pain and discomfort. Let’s delve into shoulder anatomy and explore the common areas where pain may occur.

At the core of the shoulder joint is the collarbone (clavicle), connecting the shoulder to the breastbone (sternum). Moving outward, the scapula (shoulder blade) rests on the back of the ribcage, with the humerus (upper arm bone) fitting into a shallow socket on the scapula, creating the ball-and-socket joint.

There are eight main muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, which facilitate its normal range of movements, with the four rotator cuffs being the main muscles. Additionally, for the shoulder to maintain stability during movement, three strong ligaments support the joint, preventing excessive movement, muscle strain, and joint dislocation.

Shoulder pain can arise from various areas, often caused by physical injuries like fractures, muscle injuries, or torn ligaments, leading to weakness and instability. Overworking the shoulder with repetitive activities, such as sports or physically demanding careers, can also lead to pain, particularly in the frequently utilized rotator cuff muscles. 

Pain is typically experienced across the anterior (front), posterior (back), or lateral (side) planes of the shoulder, or it may be felt deep within the shoulder joint. However, it is important to note that shoulder pain may not always come directly from the shoulder. 

Problems in other areas, like the neck or back, can cause pain that refers to the shoulder, particularly including the upper back between the shoulder blades.

Now that we have gained insight into the shoulder’s anatomy and where pain commonly occurs, you can now better identify your symptoms and seek professional guidance for precise diagnosis and effective treatment.

To deepen this understanding, let’s explore the diverse ways shoulder pain can manifest. In the upcoming section, we’ll explore how individuals often describe pain experienced in the upper back and between the shoulders.

 

What Does Upper Back Pain Between The Shoulder Blades Feel Like? 

When you experience pain spreading across the upper back and between the shoulder blades, the sensations can vary depending on the root cause. 

It’s important to note that the discomfort in this area is typically unique to each individual, with differences seen in intensity, nature, and duration. Paying close attention to your specific symptoms helps you better understand the underlying reasons for your shoulder and upper back pain. This awareness is essential when seeking effective relief.

Here are some ways the pain is often described:

  • Stiffness: The upper back may feel stiff and inflexible, making it challenging to move freely.
  • Restricted movement: Individuals may experience a limited range of motion, especially when trying to perform certain activities or movements.
  • Muscle tightness: The muscles in the upper back region may feel tight and tense, contributing to discomfort.
  • Tenderness: The area between the shoulder blades may be tender to the touch, indicating inflammation or sensitivity.
  • Radiating pain: The pain may radiate from the upper back to other areas, such as the neck, arms, or chest.
  • Numbness or tingling: Some individuals may experience sensations of numbness or tingling in the upper back or down the arms, suggesting possible nerve involvement.
  • Posture-related discomfort: Poor posture, especially when sitting or standing for extended periods, can exacerbate the pain.
  • Difficulty breathing: In some cases, upper back pain between the shoulder blades may be associated with difficulty or discomfort while breathing.

Since each person’s experience of upper back pain can be unique, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized care plan. 

In addition to understanding the individual sensations of pain and discomfort, it’s beneficial to have an idea of what may have caused your symptoms. In the following sections, we’ll discuss potential causes that can lead to pain in the upper back and between the shoulder blades.


Influences of Lifestyle on Pain

Upper back pain between the shoulder blades can sometimes occur suddenly and be clearly linked to a specific cause, while other times, it may develop gradually over time due to various lifestyle factors. Several common causes and contributing factors for this discomfort include:


Environmental Factors

Ergonomics and workplace setup

Environmental factors, such as poor ergonomics in the workplace, can contribute to upper back pain between the shoulders. 

Inadequate desk height, poorly positioned computer screens, or uncomfortable chairs can lead to poor posture and muscle strain, causing pain and discomfort to develop over time. Incorporating healthy work habits and ensuring a good ergonomic workstation can prevent ongoing muscle strain.

Accidents and environmental hazards

Being involved in an accident, like a motorcycle or motor vehicle collision, can potentially cause significant trauma to the upper back or shoulders. 

Additionally, certain environmental hazards, such as slips and falls, may result in sudden trauma to the upper back region, leading to pain between the shoulders.


Lifestyle Factors 

Repetitive and overuse activities

Engaging in repetitive activities or activities that overwork the shoulders, both at work and during recreational pursuits, can put excessive strain on the muscles and ligaments. 

For instance, activities like heavy lifting, repetitive arm motions such as cleaning, or constant reaching out of the optimal zone close to the body, can contribute to both shoulder and upper back pain. It’s essential to be mindful of our movements and take breaks when needed to avoid overexertion. 

Sedentary lifestyle

Leading a sedentary lifestyle with prolonged periods of sitting or inactivity can weaken the back and shoulder muscles, potentially leading to discomfort and pain. However, incorporating a regular exercise and stretching routine can help get sedentary muscles moving again and prevent muscle imbalances and stiffness. 

By doing so, you can reduce the risk of developing pain and maintain better shoulder and upper back health. 

Smoking and poor nutrition

Unhealthy habits like smoking and poor nutrition can impact overall health, including the musculoskeletal system, increasing the risk of upper back pain. Quitting smoking and seeking professional guidance to adopt a balanced nutrition plan can improve overall health, reduce discomfort, and enhance well-being.


Individual and Physiological Factors 

Age and degeneration: As we age, the discs and joints in the spine naturally undergo wear and tear, which can lead to degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis, contributing to upper back pain. 

Genetics: Individual factors, such as genetic predisposition, can influence the risk of developing certain musculoskeletal conditions that may lead to upper back pain.

Medical conditions: Pre-existing medical conditions, like scoliosis or fibromyalgia, can affect the muscles and structure of the back, potentially causing discomfort between the shoulder blades.

Nerve damage: Nerve-related issues, such as pinched nerves caused by herniated discs in the upper back region, can cause radiating pain between the shoulders.

Inflammation: Inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis can lead to inflammation in the upper back, resulting in pain and stiffness.

In the following sections, we will explore specific medical conditions that may lead to upper back pain, providing further insight into potential sources of discomfort and guidance on seeking appropriate medical evaluation and care. 


Possible Conditions That May Cause Upper Back Pain Between The Shoulder Blades

While some cases of upper back pain between the shoulder blades may be linked to lifestyle factors or environmental triggers, certain underlying medical conditions can also be responsible for this discomfort. It’s essential to understand the potential medical conditions that could be contributing to your discomfort to ensure you can receive appropriate and timely intervention.  

In this section, we will explore possible medical conditions associated with upper back pain between the shoulder blades, discussing their symptoms and characteristics to help you gain insight into the potential causes of your pain. 


Herniated
Disc

A herniated disc in the upper back occurs when the soft, gel-like center of a spinal disc pushes through a crack in the tough outer layer. The bulging of this structure can compress nearby nerves, leading to pain that radiates between the shoulder blades. 

The pain may be accompanied by numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms or hands. Age-related degeneration or injury, such as heavy lifting or sudden movements, can cause a disc herniation.


Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can affect the spinal discs in the upper back. Over time, the cartilage that cushions the joints wears down, leading to inflammation, pain, and stiffness between the shoulder blades. Activities that involve repetitive stress on the upper back, such as overhead motions or constant bending, may exacerbate the condition.


Scoliosis

Scoliosis is characterized by a sideways curvature of the spine that can cause uneven pressure on the muscles and nerves in the upper back. This can lead to pain and discomfort between the shoulder blades, especially after prolonged periods of sitting or standing. In severe cases, scoliosis may cause visible asymmetry of the shoulders or ribcage.


Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder that involves the development of painful trigger points in the muscles. Tight knots of muscle fibers develop, which can cause referred pain in other areas of the body, including the upper back between the shoulder blades. Trigger points may develop due to overuse, muscle strain, or injury.


Gallbladder Issues

Gallbladder problems, such as gallstones or inflammation (cholecystitis), can cause referred pain in the upper back. Typically, this pain is felt on the right side between the shoulder blades and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and bloating.


Peptic Ulcer Disease

Peptic ulcer disease involves the formation of sores (ulcers) in the lining of the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine. The irritation caused by these ulcers can lead to upper back pain, particularly after eating or during periods of hunger. Other symptoms may include burning stomach pain and indigestion (acid reflux).


Heart Conditions

Certain heart conditions, such as angina or heart attack, can cause referred pain to the upper back between the shoulder blades. The pain may be intense and may spread to the chest, arm, or neck. 

If you experience sudden and severe pain in the upper back, along with other symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention, as these could be signs of a heart emergency.

By identifying the specific factors that may be contributing to your discomfort, you can take proactive steps to address them and feel confident you are making informed decisions about your treatments. 

If you suspect an undiagnosed medical condition is causing your symptoms, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Discuss your concerns to get appropriate help and find relief for your situation. Taking action early can lead to timely diagnosis and effective treatment. Your health is worth the attention and care.

Let’s delve into conventional treatments commonly prescribed for upper back pain between the shoulders. Understanding these options can help you make informed decisions about your pain management and find the relief you need.

 

Common Treatments For Upper Back Pain Between The Shoulder Blades

Coping with upper back pain between the shoulder blades can be challenging. Fortunately, several conventional treatment options can temporarily alleviate sudden discomfort and ease mild symptoms while the body begins to heal. Below are some common treatments that may be beneficial:


Heat or Cold Therapy

Applying a cold pack or hot compress to the affected area can provide relief from upper back pain. Cold packs will help reduce inflammation and numb the area and are typically used right after sustaining an injury. Alternatively, heat therapy can relax tight muscles and improve blood circulation for a recovering injury. 

Alternating between hot and cold therapies can be particularly helpful for some individuals.


Gentle Stretching Exercises

Stretching the upper back and shoulder muscles can help improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension. Gentle exercises that target the affected area, such as shoulder rolls, chin tucks, and chest opening stretches, can be beneficial in alleviating pain and promoting better posture.


Correcting Posture

Improving posture is essential for preventing and managing upper back pain. Proper posture reduces strain on the muscles and ligaments, helping to alleviate discomfort. Practicing good posture during daily activities and ensuring an ergonomic workspace can be beneficial in the long run.


Over-the-Counter Pain Relief Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (paracetamol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage mild to moderate upper back pain. 

However, it’s essential to use these medications as directed and not rely on them as a long-term solution. Using pain relievers for an extended period can lead to side effects and potential health risks.


Danger Of Using Pain Relievers Long Term

While over-the-counter pain relievers can provide temporary relief, long-term use can have adverse effects on your health. Prolonged use of NSAIDs, for example, may increase the risk of gastrointestinal problems, kidney issues, and cardiovascular events. 

It is crucial to be cautious and consult a healthcare professional if you find yourself relying on pain relievers for an extended period.


Massage 

Massage therapy can be an effective way to relieve muscle tension and reduce upper back pain. There are different methods of massage that can target the affected area:


By Hand

A skilled massage therapist can use manual techniques to release knots and tension in the upper back and shoulder muscles.


Using A Roller

A foam roller can be used to self-massage the upper back. Using different foam rolling techniques to target affected areas can promote muscle relaxation and reduce pain.


Using A Massage Ball

A massage ball can be placed between the shoulder blades and used against a wall to apply pressure and release tension in the upper back.

While conservative treatments can offer short-term relief for mild to moderate upper back pain, many individuals may still suffer from chronic discomfort. However, hope remains. In the next section, we will explore how Neuragenex provides long-term relief without relying on painkillers, chiropractic methods, or invasive procedures. 

 

Our Approach To Treating Upper Back Pain Between The Shoulder Blades

Neuragenex offers a leading chronic pain treatment program and is driven by a mission to provide non-pharmaceutical, non-surgical, non-chiropractic, and non-invasive solutions for individuals seeking relief from chronic pain. 

Our dedication to relieving pain, restoring health, and magnifying quality of life sets us apart from traditional treatment approaches. With a commitment to patient safety and effective pain management, our goal is to help individuals find lasting relief. 

At Neuragenex, we recognize the complexity of chronic pain, including upper back pain between the shoulders, and have pioneered a comprehensive Neurofunctional Pain Management protocol that addresses these issues effectively.

This innovative approach focuses on stimulating the nervous system, targeting inappropriate pain signals in the upper back and shoulder region, and promoting overall well-being. The Neurofunctional Pain Management techniques offered by Neuragenex include:

 

Electroanalgesia

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IV Therapy

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Lifestyle Counseling

Lifestyle counseling is an approach to managing chronic pain that involves identifying, assessing, and modifying lifestyle factors contributing to an individual's pain. For example, lifestyle factors such as nutrition, physical activity, stress, sleep quality...

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With the combination of electroanalgesia, specialized IV therapy, and lifestyle counseling, Neuragenex provides a comprehensive approach to managing upper back pain between the shoulders, offering relief and improving the overall well-being of patients.

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Osteoarthritis Pain Treatment

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Learn The Root Cause Of Your Pain To Ensure Recovery

Upper back pain between the shoulder blades can be challenging and debilitating due to various factors and health conditions. Understanding the complexity of the shoulder and recognizing symptoms and potential causes is crucial in helping you to find an appropriate diagnosis and effective treatment.

Conventional treatment options include rest, heat or cold therapy, physical therapy, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, posture correction, and lifestyle changes. While conventional treatments can provide relief for many, 

Neuragenex offers alternative approaches through personalized Neurofunctional Pain Management (NFPM) techniques. Our tailored protocols provide targeted pain relief and support natural healing.

With the right approach, relief from upper back pain is possible, improving overall well-being and quality of life. At Neuragenex, our dedicated team of professionals offers safe, personalized care, addressing the root causes of your pain and helping you regain control of your well-being. We are here to support you on your journey toward long-lasting relief from upper back pain.

Get properly diagnosed for your upper back pain to ensure a successful treatment.

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