Pain between the shoulder blades: Causes and treatments

by | May 2, 2024 | Shoulder and Arm Pain

Feeling pain between your shoulder blades? Nagging shoulder pain should not be ignored and left untreated. If you’re experiencing discomfort around your shoulder blades, finding a solution is important. In many cases, the best treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your shoulder blade pain. Pain in this region can have many causes. Learning more about the most common causes of pain between the shoulder blades can offer insights into the best treatment options.

Common causes of pain between the shoulder blades

  • Muscle strain — Muscle strain occurs when muscle tissue is stretched too far or torn. This can happen for a few different reasons. Some of the most common causes of muscle strain are poor posture, repetitive motions, overloading your shoulders and sudden sports injuries. Simple activities such as working at a computer for extended periods without proper ergonomics can also contribute to muscle strain. After you strain a muscle in your shoulder, you may experience persistent pain and soreness in the area.
  • Poor posture — Postural issues can be a major risk factor for pain between the shoulder blades. Frequent slouching and hunching forward can be irritating to joints or muscles that are already sensitive. When you lean forward too much, you can put excessive stress on the joints and muscles in your upper back. Over time, this stress can lead to tension and pain. To help prevent these issues, you can work to actively practice good posture. Sitting up straight and keeping your shoulders from slouching can have a major positive impact on your upper back health. A physical therapist can also help educate you on proper posture.
  • Joint dysfunction — Joint issues are a common cause of shoulder blade pain. The joints typically affected are the joints located along the posterior of the spine. These joints that run along the vertebrae are called facet joints. Injuries, arthritis and other conditions can lead to dysfunction in the facet joints around the upper back. Issues in these joints may come with pain in the upper back and shoulders. Neck pain is also common. If you have a joint issue that’s causing you pain between the shoulder blades, it is important to seek treatment. Intervening as soon as possible can be essential to finding rapid relief.

Top treatments for pain between the shoulder blades

Ready to address your shoulder blade pain? Physical therapy can help. A licensed physical therapist can offer a wide assortment of treatments designed to alleviate your pain and promote healing. Physical therapy typically starts with a comprehensive evaluation intended to identify the root cause of your pain. From here, your physical therapist can work to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to meet your needs. Specific treatments vary from patient to patient, but some treatments such as PT stretches and other exercises tend to be a core part of any treatment plan. Here are two of the top PT treatments for pain between the shoulder blades:

  • Manual therapy Manual therapy refers to hands-on physical therapy treatment. Using their hands to apply controlled motions and pressure, your physical therapist can help relieve your upper back and shoulder pain. The specific techniques used will depend on the underlying cause of the pain between your shoulder blades. Experiencing nagging pain after a soft tissue injury? Soft tissue manipulation may be the most effective form of manual therapy for you. If the cause is a joint issue, then the best treatment may be joint mobilization instead. In addition to relieving pain, manual therapy can offer a robust set of other benefits. These benefits include reduced tension, improved mobility and increased blood flow. Improving your circulation can allow more nutrients to reach injured tissue, accelerating your healing timeline.
  • Graston Technique® — The Graston Technique is a form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization.  It’s similar to manual therapy in its direct approach but differs in some important ways. The central difference is the set of tools used in the Graston Technique. Whereas physical therapists use their hands for manual therapy, the Graston Technique incorporates specialized tools, stainless steel instruments, to deliver optimal results. The Graston Technique can be used to address conditions ranging from swollen tendons to muscle knots. It can also be helpful for breaking up scar tissue and promoting healthy tissue regeneration.

Find relief from the pain between your shoulder blades at Forever Fit Physical Therapy & Wellness

Looking for a great physical therapy treatment provider? Forever Fit Physical Therapy & Wellness is here to meet your needs. Our expert team has extensive experience addressing upper back and shoulder pain. Using a range of evidence-based treatments, we can help you get back to the life you love.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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