Back pain in the shoulder blades: causes, diagnosis, full description of the problem

Many people experience back pain during their lifetime. They can be located in different areas due to a huge number of different reasons. If a person has back pain in the area of the shoulder blades, this symptom should not be ignored.

However, here it is important to understand that a momentary pain that quickly passes and is no longer felt is not a cause for concern. On the contrary, anxiety is caused by systemic pains, regardless of their intensity and character. Consider the causes and methods of diagnosing pain, let's talk about its nature and methods to get rid of it.

Back pain between the shoulder blades in a man

The nature of pain

Pain is not a disease in itself - it is only a symptom. The occurrence of back pain can be due to many factors, ranging from pain after sleeping in an uncomfortable position to severe pathological processes in the body.

To understand why the back hurts between the shoulder blades, it is important to understand the cause of the pain. But first it is worth considering another important question about the nature of painful sensations, which helps to establish the main cause of this symptom.

So, doctors distinguish the following degree of pain according to their nature:

  • Sharp- different sudden appearance, but always very intense. Whether the back hurts below, above or between the shoulder blades, the pain occurs spontaneously. At the same time, a certain feeling of "shooting" arises, a person can scream, jerk his whole body, bend sharply. Such a reflex reaction is caused not only by the suddenness and intensity of the painful sensation, we instinctively try to avoid unpleasantsensations.
  • Boring- fundamentally differs from the previous paragraph. It develops gradually and haunts the patient for a long time. Dull pain is characterized by its monotony, it varies in intensity. In some cases, the painful sensation is so intense that it prevents a person not only from moving or performing any actions, but even from sleeping. Dull pains indicate muscle problems or depend on pathologies affecting tendons or ligaments. It tends to intensify during movement or physical exertion, it is localized on both sides (in the area of both shoulder blades).
  • sharp- not much different from strong, but still has certain characteristics. Sharp pain, as the name suggests, also occurs suddenly, but has a different intensity. This can be a severe sudden lumbago causing the reflex actions described earlier. But in some cases, sharp pains are quite weak, although they bring a lot of discomfort. It often occurs when performing any action, lifting weights, awkward movements, etc.
  • stabbing- rather, it is not about the nature, but about the specificity of the painful sensations that appear depending on a specific disease. Knee pains are spontaneous and wave-like, cyclical. It is they that often radiate, are localized in the back under the shoulder blades, give, for example, in the lower back, at the level of the sacrum. Feeling a piercing pain of high intensity, patients say that a knife or needle has been stuck in a certain place.
  • Pain- one of the types of pain with a dull character. Such painful sensations are also characterized by persistence and duration. The pain is debilitating, it follows a person everywhere, regardless of his actions, even in the absence of movement and physical exertion. Localized between the shoulder blades in the spine, the pain spreads to the chest area, patients have the feeling that their heart hurts, although there are no heart pathologies. Painful pains are also characterized by cyclicity, they are constantly present, but have a habit of changing intensity.
  • Pulling- this type of pain is characteristic of bone, muscle and ligament structures. The specificity of the pain is related to the name, patients have the feeling that someone or something is pulling a muscle or bone at the location of the unpleasant sensations. Severe pain of a pulling nature brings a lot of discomfort, hinders movement, often radiates to nearby areas.
  • Burning or stinging pain- a rather rare type of pain commonly called "burning back". Such sensations are characteristic of some forms and stages of osteochondrosis, it also burns the back with ischemic pathologies of the heart. In the second case, the pain that occurs in the region of the shoulder blades is radiating;
  • strong or weak- it is this indicator that is both key and the most controversial for every doctor. If the back hurts a lot, it brings maximum discomfort, exhausts the person, makes him incapacitated. Weak pains are easier to tolerate and do not complicate life so much, but in most cases they are the most prolonged and difficult to treat. Subjective indicators of the intensity of painful sensations are because each person has a different degree of sensitivity to pain, a different pain threshold. In such cases, it is better to pay attention to where it hurts, in the middle, closer to the left or right shoulder blade.

We must not forget that it is impossible to make an accurate diagnosis based only on the nature of the pain. In addition, even the concept of "character" is subjective, since each person has an individual threshold of sensitivity, and even the same disease can be accompanied by different symptoms.

In addition, pain in various pathological processes is often accompanied by other symptoms. Now we will consider what clinical signs can be present along with the pain:

  • Numb back- a clinical sign indicating neurological disorders. It is often observed in intercostal neuralgia, osteochondrosis of the chest, spondyloarthrosis.
  • Freeze back- Another symptom from a number of neurological, which is combined with painful sensations. According to medical reference books, such a clinical sign is inherent in only two pathologies. In the first case, we are talking about damage to the nerve roots of the spinal cord, in the second case, the symptom is associated with an inflammatory disease, pyelonephritis.
  • Increase in body temperature- with inflammation of the internal organs, sometimes the pain is accompanied by pain between the shoulder blades. Most of these symptoms indicate pneumonia or tuberculosis.
  • In some cases, pain in the shoulder blade area is accompanied bynausea, but such a clinical sign usually occurs with very strong painful sensations.

In the majority of cases, pain between the shoulder blades indicates diseases of the spine. However, there is always a possibility that the painful sensations radiate due to the development of other pathologies, for example, diseases of the internal organs, among which pathologies of the heart and lungs are the most likely.

Why does the back hurt in the area of the shoulder blades

Even taking into account all the variety of characters of back pain in the area of the shoulder blades, it is impossible to make an accurate diagnosis based only on this symptom. At the same time, in order to completely get rid of pain, and not temporarily relieve them with painkillers, it is necessary to understand the real reason for their appearance.

In order to understand why there are back pains in the area of the shoulder blades, it is necessary to highlight the main reasons for their occurrence:

  • Mechanical damage to the spineespecially in the cervical or chest area. It's not just recent injuries, including bruises, sprains, sprains and fractures. Old injuries can remind of themselves years later or serve as the development of other pathologies in which the spine hurts between the shoulder blades.
  • Osteochondrosis- one of the most common causes of pain in different parts of the back. Of course, when it comes to pain in the shoulder blades, it means osteochondrosis of the cervical or thoracic region, that is, the upper back.
  • Postural disorder, that is, any pathology that can lead to curvature of the spine. First of all, scoliosis is implied in its various manifestations, but distortion can occur even due to banal flat feet. The most severe forms of spinal curvature are kyphosis and kyphoscoliosis;
  • Disc herniationin the thoracic spine also provokes the development of pain. At the same time, the pain intensifies during movements, and the pathological process itself is dangerous by pressing on the nerves with the addition of neurological symptoms to the clinical picture.
  • Periarthrosis of the shoulder or scapular joint- a disease of the musculoskeletal system, characterized by an inflammatory process in the periarticular tissues. The pathology is accompanied by sharp pain in the area of the scapula and upper limbs, significantly hindering the movements of the hands.
  • Intercostal neuralgia- the pathological process is caused by disorders of neurological origin, pinching of the nerves in the area of the ribs (chest). At the same time, the pains are radiating, touching including the shoulder blades.
  • Pain in the shoulder blades can occur in a woman during pregnancy
  • Migrating or radiating pain to the scapular region is commonpathologies of the heartamong which ischemia and myocardial infarction are often distinguished. In such cases, the pain "radiates" from the heart to the back.
  • Pregnancy- Another cause of back pain, including between the shoulder blades. The appearance of painful sensations is explained by the growth of the fetus, which shifts the center of gravity and increases the load on all parts of the spine. Usually, the pain appears closer to the third trimester, when the fetus reaches a large size.
  • Pain may occurafter vaccinationunder the shoulder bladeThis area is very convenient for injection, and the fact that the vaccine is administered at the same time only enhances the pain syndrome, which lasts 1-2 days.

It is difficult to identify all the causes of pain between the shoulder blades, as there are many of them. This list contains only the main ones. As for the rarer causes, most of them are signs of other diseases. We are talking about diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, liver, kidneys, in each of these cases the pain radiates.

We must also not forget that there are pains that are associated with heavy physical exertion. They can be pathological or muscular, in the second case you just need to rest your back muscles, with pathological pains it is important to consult a doctor.


A doctor can accurately determine the causes of pain and make a diagnosis only on the basis of obtaining diagnostic data. For a wide range of reasons, diagnostics includes many procedures, among which the following are most in demand:

  • Initial examination and history taking- the doctor asks the patient about the localization, frequency, nature and intensity of painful sensations. This is followed by an examination of the patient with palpation of the indicated painful areas and functional diagnostics, including hand movements, tilts, etc.
  • Radiography- if a person suffers from pain in the spine below, above or in the middle of the shoulder blades, the easiest way to determine the cause is an X-ray. This research method allows you to determine the shape of the vertebrae and intervertebral discs, identify distortions, disorders, etc.
  • CT- a modern and more informative diagnostic method that gives a more complete picture in the presence of spinal pathologies.
  • Magnetic resonance- this research method is necessary in cases where X-rays and CT did not provide the necessary information. MRI can detect pathologies affecting the spinal cord and its branches.
Computed tomography for the diagnosis of back pain in the area of ​​the shoulder blades

If the causes of the pain are not identified during the examination of the spine, diagnosis of the pathologies of the cardiovascular system, the organs of the gastrointestinal tract, etc. is necessary.

What to do if the back hurts between the shoulder blades

If a person experiences sharp pain in the spine between the shoulder blades for a long time, the painful sensations do not go away or their intensity is so high that he does not have the strength to endure, urgently consult a doctor.

The fight against most pathological processes with such symptoms does not tolerate self-treatment, the fight against diseases is carried out only under the guidance of a specialist. In addition, it is important to understand that in most cases doctors resort to conservative methods of treatment.

The basis of treatment is drug therapy:

Different drugs will help get rid of back pain in the area of ​​the shoulder blades.
  • The first task is to reduce the intensity of the pain or completely stop the back pain. Painkillers with an analgesic effect or antispasmodics are prescribed for this.
  • The best treatment for various diseases of the musculoskeletal system are drugs from the group of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). They are prescribed in the form of ointments, injections, tablets. Thanks to the ointments, the analgesic effect is achieved quickly, in addition, these drugs have an anti-inflammatory effect and also allow you to reduce the local temperature.
  • In some pathological processes, in order to deal with the main cause of pain, group B drugs are prescribed in combination with NSAIDs. They help to normalize metabolic processes in tissues, improve nerve conduction and are especially useful in osteochondrosis neuralgia.

If the back hurts under the shoulder blades, in addition to drug treatment, a course of physiotherapy is required, including the following procedures:

  • Electrophoresis.
  • Laser therapy.
  • Magnetotherapy.
  • Ultrasound.
Laser therapy is used to combat back pain in the shoulder blade area.

The decision on the appointment of each method of treatment is made together with the doctor. The duration of therapy depends on the disease itself, the degree of its progression and other factors, but the full course includes at least 10 procedures. Only then can significant improvements be observed.

Therapeutic massage - a method to eliminate back pain in the area of ​​the shoulder blades

To deal with the problem even more effectively and quickly, a course of massages is added to the complex of therapeutic measures. It should be performed by an experienced specialist. This procedure helps with shoulder blade injuries and most back ailments. However, massages are recommended in the presence of positive dynamics of drug treatment and physiotherapy. The course of treatment normalizes blood circulation, accelerates metabolism, reduces pain, restores muscle tone and elasticity.

Subsequently, massages are replaced by physiotherapy exercises that allow you to consolidate the progress of recovery and prevent the further development of back diseases. The patient performs exercises that involve minor physical exertion, with the main emphasis on stretching the muscles and keeping them in good shape. Here it is important to remember that the intensity of the exercises increases gradually, the patient should not feel discomfort. A systematic approach is also very important, but if you again feel pain in the back below the shoulder blades, seek the advice of a physiotherapist.


The back hurts under the shoulder blades or between them - this feeling is very unpleasant, especially if it is associated with the development of some pathological process. To protect yourself from diseases and back pain, follow these simple preventive recommendations:

  • Always control physical activity, whether it is heavy sports or heavy physical labor at work. You can not lift too many weights, excessive load on the back.
  • If heavy lifting is unavoidable, do it properly. Lift weights only with a straight back.
  • Maintain an active lifestyle and exercise to maintain back muscles. It is most useful to do exercises every day, swim and hang on the horizontal bar.
  • When sitting, try to keep your back straight, take a break every 1-2 hours, walk or warm up by doing a set of twists and squats.
  • To prevent muscle pain in the back, osteochondrosis and other diseases, sleep on a flat, hard surface. Buy an orthopedic mattress and pillow that follows the shape of your head and neck.

By following these simple rules, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing diseases and back pain. But remember that if the pain appears, does not disappear for more than a week or becomes too intense, be sure to consult a doctor. Timely diagnosis and initiation of treatment can minimize damage to the body and defeat the disease faster.