Why does the back between the shoulder blades hurt: causes of discomfort and methods of treatment

back pain between shoulder blades

Back pain is a common complaint among people of different age groups. Discomfort is usually noted in the area between the shoulder blades. Pain syndrome can be related to pathologies of the spine, disorders of internal organs.

The use of anesthetic ointments or other pain relievers is not an option. Alleviating discomfort will improve health, but the pathological process will further destroy the spine or internal organs. In some cases, back pain between the shoulder blades is the result of metastasis of lung or stomach cancer. Approach this problem responsibly, entrusting the treatment to specialists.

Possible causes of pain

shoulder back pain.

Why does my back hurt in the shoulder area? Remember: pain is a symptom of other illnesses, and not a separate illness. Only by identifying the root cause of the unpleasant feeling can you overcome the illness, get rid of the unpleasant feeling. Experts distinguish two types of reasons for the appearance of pain in the shoulder blades: pathologies of the spine, diseases of internal organs. Let's look at each group of possible causes in detail.

Disc herniation

This phenomenon is quite rare, the lumbar region rather than the chest is more common. The pathology is characterized by the capsular protrusion before various negative factors, the distance between the vertebrae is significantly reduced, leading to nerve root compression. The lint ring acts as a shock absorber.

Herniated discs in the thoracic region show local pain, sometimes discomfort extending to the chest, similar to symptoms of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Tuberculosis of the spine

Many people have forgotten about this disease, but according to statistics, 99% of the world's population are carriers of mycobacterium tuberculosis. Against the background of mechanical damage to the spine, hypothermia or a weakened immune system, tuberculosis can form at the site of injury. The pathology can not always be recognized in time, even on X-ray films.

Usually, the disease is discovered in the form of neglect, when the patient has had some complications and complains of severe pain in the shoulder area. The characteristic signs of tuberculosis are an elevated body temperature, an uncomfortable burning sensation in the chest area, which can spread to nearby tissues.

Muscle tension, hypothermia

Excessive exertion, improper exercise in the gym, often sitting in an uncomfortable position lead to overwork of the back muscles. Office workers, truck drivers, surgeons, tailors are susceptible to this disease.

The state of health worsens on the background of hypothermia (uncontrolled air conditioning, drafts). Shoulder pain is more intense, the patient needs to take NSAIDs, massage with special ointment. Avoid drafts and excessive exertion.


Each student heard from teachers and parents about this disease during the process of improperly sitting at the desk. Adults forget the recommendations for prevention, which leads to the occurrence of scoliosis of varying degrees in 50% of the population. The disease is a condition in which the spine is curved, usually in the thoracic spine, cervical spine, and cervical vertebrae. The ribs are closely connected to the chest area, so the patient complains of shoulder pain.

Characteristic signs of scoliosis include:

  • increased fatigue of the back muscles;
  • one shoulder may rest on top of the other;
  • Discomfort in the shoulder blades appears after manual labor, long sitting at the computer or may accompany the victim continuously.

Osteoarthritis of the vertebrae

spondylolisthesis as a cause of pain between the shoulder blades

This disease is similar to osteonecrosis, the difference can only be noticed by specialists in certain studies. Spondylolisthesis is characterized by destruction of cartilage, replacing missing areas with bone tissue, leading to the formation of condylar processes, nerve damage, and severe pain in the shoulder blades.

Bone tumor

Sedentary lifestyle, obesity leads to degeneration of joints and spine. Osteochondrosis is diagnosed even in children, the cause of pain is an inflammatory process in the soft tissues adjacent to the damaged vertebrae, further compressing the nerves.

Internal disease

All organs and systems in the body are interconnected, shoulder blade pain can indicate a variety of conditions unrelated to the spine:

  • diseases of the cardiovascular system. Myocardial infarction, coronary artery disease, or angina can cause acute chest pain that radiates to the shoulder blades. During an acute attack, discomfort lasts no more than five minutes, blood pressure drops sharply, and cold sweats occur. In this case, call the ambulance crew;
  • gastrointestinal diseases. Pancreatitis, cholecystitis, peptic ulcer disease are common causes of chest pain from different angles. Cancer in this area can also cause discomfort;
  • respiratory system disease. Shoulder pain with cough, chills, fever, muscle aches.

Back pain during pregnancy

back pain between shoulder blades during pregnancy

In the context of increased stress, curvature of the spine, detection of the body in an abnormal state during pregnancy, patients experience pain of varying degrees of severity. The altered center of gravity contributes to excessive compression of the vertebrae causing discomfort.

Shoulder pain can accompany women after childbirth. It's all the fault of the epidural, which is commonly used for caesarean sections. The procedure itself is the insertion of a special catheter into the epidural space, where it is placed for the required amount of time without touching the spinal cord. Pain medication is given through the catheter to help numb the lower body for a while.

Improper manipulation, twisting during catheterization, and other unforeseen circumstances lead to damage to membranes and substances of the spinal cord. The procedure itself is very complicated and requires the utmost professionalism of the doctor.


The nature of the pain in the shoulder blade area is of great importance, helping to find the cause of the discomfort:

  • chronic - the victim constantly feels bad, has dull pains and periods of "calm". This type is typical for osteonecrosis, herniated disc and other chronic diseases of the spine;
  • sharp. Suddenly, the patient feels an attack of pain, and suddenly the discomfort disappears. This image is typical for impact trauma, nerve root compression, and visceral diseases.

Note!In addition, patients may complain of discomfort pulling along the entire spine, headaches, and other clinical manifestations of pre-existing disease.


Back pain in the shoulder area what to do? Often, patients do not know which specialist to contact. It all depends on the nature of the pain, their duration, the negative events before the onset of discomfort.

Check your back for pain between your shoulder blades

Diagnosis is made:

  • neurosurgeon. Most victims should contact this doctor, because herniated disc, osteonecrosis accompanied by nerve root compression, the corresponding symptoms;
  • orthopedic surgeon. In case of spinal deformities (scoliosis, scoliosis), ankylosing spondylitis, various traumatic spinal injuries, it is advisable to visit this special specialist;
  • therapist or family doctor. The physician usually solves many of the patient's problems. The doctor, knowing the family history, will determine the person's characteristics, what has caused the discomfort or refer to a more narrow specialist.

Several studies are used to diagnose shoulder blade pain: X-ray, CT, MRI, blood tests, urinalysis. Specific manipulations depend on the nature of the pain, the presence of accompanying unpleasant sensations.

Effective therapeutic options

In the case of acute pain, the main task is to stop it. Then, they find the cause of the discomfort, prescribe the desired course of treatment.

In case of shoulder discomfort, you should:

  • temporary pain relief. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used. Depending on the degree of discomfort, drugs are used in the form of tablets, ointments, injections;
  • physiotherapeutic treatment (magnetic therapy, UHF, shock wave therapy, mud therapy). In the case of problems with the spine, physical therapy on the shoulder blades is an integral aspect of therapy. Pain reliever, reduce inflammation. You can not use such methods for tumors, infectious diseases with the formation of pus;
  • massage, manual therapy. It is only used for pain caused by pinched nerve roots, damage to the vertebrae. Impact on the spine contributes to stretching and muscle relaxation;
  • compress, lotion. Used Dimexide (1: 3), alcohol (1: 1) in proportion to water. Compresses cope with discomfort, reduce inflammation. Moisten the cheesecloth in the finished infusion, cover with cellophane, leave for two hours. Apply gel or ointment after the procedure.

Diseases of internal organs are treated in other ways, taking into account the stage of development of the pathology. In each individual case, the doctor chooses an individual course of treatment. Self-treatment is harmful to health, even life.

Preventive measures

back pain massage between shoulder blades

It's important to prevent discomfort on its own, but the root cause of it.

Expert recommendations:

  • go for regular massages;
  • Eliminate excessive stress, but gentle exercise has a corset effect on the muscles;
  • avoid drafts, hypothermia;
  • Eat right, try to give up bad habits.

Timely first aid to a specialist in case of pain between the shoulder blades plays an important role. Pathological changes are not formed in a day. The sooner you start treatment, the more likely it is to make a full recovery and minimize irreversible consequences to your body.