Pain Between The Shoulder Blades?

By Dr. Philip Cordova

January 23, 2011


Pain between the shoulder blades is common for all our patients that work at computers all day. Their poor computer posture and reaching for the keyboard can cause burning and tension in the middle back. Have you had this happen to you?

Pain between the shoulder blades starts slowly…

Sitting at the computer all day doesn’t immediately cause pain between the shoulder blades, the process is slow and can be overlooked until the symptoms just don’t want to go away. Over time, the muscles that attach your shoulder blades to your spine, called the rhomboids, start to get longer and weaker.

As the muscles start to grow longer, you may notice stiffness, but not necessarily the burning that often accompanies the pain between the shoulder blades. If you’re already experiencing the stiffness that is helped by rolling your shoulder blades, it’s time to take action.

pain between the shoulder blades

Pain between the shoulder blades? Do this at home…

Since it’s your rhomboids that are getting longer, work on exercises that shorten and tighten those muscles. Shoulder squeezes are a great first step. Done consistently, this may eliminate a lot of tension and give you relief when you’re at your computer and start to experience pain between the shoulder blades.

Shoulder pull aparts are another great exercise, but this movement does work best when you have a band to use for resistance. We have a lot more mid back exercises available on our website to help with this problem. 

Foam rolling to get relief from pain between the shoulder blades

Have you ever used a foam roller? A good foam rolling routine will go a long way in prevention of pain between the shoulder blades. This simple (and sometimes painful) device can be used at home to alleviate tension in the mid back. You may hear some pops and cracks when using it, but this is not the same as getting a good chiropractic adjustment

The foam roller is about mobility, which is important to the thoracic spine. Since your thoracic spine has ribs attached, it’s already stiffer than you would think. Maintaining motion and alleviating stiffness will go a long way in helping your productivity at the office. No more frequent breaks due to back pain.

Chiropractic care for pain between the shoulder blades

A good chiropractic care plan begins with proper analysis with a consultation, examination, and any necessary x-rays. In our office, it’s the x-ray analysis that is critical to fast and lasting results. We take measurements and use that information to determine which spinal segments we will adjust.

Spinal decompression therapy is also helpful for this condition, but your initial visits will pull more on the lower back (or the neck if you start with cervical decompression therapy). Because it’s difficult to really get a good stretch or pull on the mid back with this therapy, you have to work your way through the other areas of the spine that are stuck before you will feel the pull in the middle spine.

Adding in electrical stimulation therapy or intersegmental traction can also be helpful additional therapies to provide initial relief. The electrical stimulation will calm down any areas that are inflamed while the traction with roll up and down on the thoracic spine to add in additional movement. 

The other therapies are helpful and can speed up the amount of relief you feel, but the foundation of any care plan is still the chiropractic adjustment. Your long-term results and ability to stay productive will depend on the quality of care you receive.

[Video] Dr. Natalie Cordova explains why people may experience pain between the shoulder blades and what you can do about it.

Dr. Philip Cordova

About the author

Dr. Philip Cordova is a chiropractor in Houston, Texas. He grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and decided to become a chiropractor after hurting his back as a teenager and getting help from chiropractic care. He is speaker on health & posture. Click Here To Read His Full Bio

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