The Little-Known Cause of Pain Between the Shoulder Blades

The Little-Known Cause of Pain Between the Shoulder Blades

Pain between the shoulder blades can be caused by a variety of things. In this blog post, we will discuss the most common causes of pain in that area and what you can do to alleviate it. If you are experiencing pain between your shoulder blades, read on.

One common cause of pain between shoulder blade is having poor posture habits. When you slouch for long periods of time, it puts additional strain on the muscles and ligaments in your back, which can lead to aches and pains. Additionally, sitting at a desk or computer all day can lead to tension in the neck, which can radiate down into the upper back. This is known as referred pain. An irritation to the neck very commonly refers pain to between the shoulder blades.

Another common cause of shoulder blade pain is muscular imbalances. If the muscles in your chest are excessively tight, it can pull your shoulder blades forward, leading to discomfort. Additionally, dysfunctional upper back muscles can cause the shoulder blades to flare out, which can also contribute to pain. Fortunately, there are a number of stretches and exercises that can help to alleviate shoulder blade pain. By stretching the muscles and improving strength and posture habits, you can help to reduce or eliminate discomfort.

Shoulder blade control courtesy of PhysioPlus Health Group. (Read the caption)

Could pain between shoulder blade be caused by refered pain?

As mentioned above, pain between shoulder blade can commonly be referred by the neck.

When you experience pain, it’s usually because something is wrong in the area where you feel the pain. For example, if you hurt your wrist playing soccer, the pain you feel will usually come from your wrist. But sometimes, the pain can be coming from a different part of your body. This is called referred pain. Referred pain happens when the nerves that send signals from an injured or diseased area to your brain get mixed up. As a result, you feel pain in an area that isn’t actually the source of the problem. Referred pain is often experienced as a dull ache or burning sensation. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the problem, but once your doctor or physiotherapist identifies the source of the pain, they can treat it accordingly.

What are some types of referred pain conditions that can cause pain between shoulder blade include?

Trigger points

One of the most common causes of referred pain is a trigger point. A trigger point is a piece of muscle tissue where a large amount of electrical activity occurs when we contract the muscle. Trigger points exist in every muscle, but they can become problematic when we employ poor posture habits or when those muscles are overloaded. This can happen when you overuse your muscles or put them under too much stress. When this happens to neck muscles like the Upper Fibres Trapezius or Levator Scapula, pain is very commonly referred to the area between your shoulder blades. Trigger points are often treated with ice, rest, and then physiotherapy once symptoms have settled.

Herniated or Bulging Discs

Another common cause of referred pain is a herniated or bulging disc. These discs are located between the vertebrae in your spine and act as cushions to help absorbed shock. If they become damaged or inflamed, they can protrude into the spinal canal and press on and irritate the nerves. This can cause pain that radiates down your arms as well as into your shoulder blades.


Arthritis is a condition that causes degeneration in the joints. Another feature of arthritis is the narrowing of these joint spaces. With the neck there are specific joints where nerves travel through before going into the upper extremities. If these joint spaces narrow too much it can irritate the nerves leading to pain tingling and/or numbness down the arm. Additionally the pain can be referred to the shoulder blades. Osteoarthritis is often treated with medication, physical therapy, and postural re-training.


Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve to one side. It can lead to pain and difficulty moving. Scoliosis is often treated with physical therapy, bracing, and surgery.

There are many soucrs of referred pain to the shoulder blades, but with the help of your doctor or physiotherapist, you can identify the source of your pain and find relief

What causes shoulder pain after swimming courtesy of Market Mall Physiotherapy. (Read the caption)

How to treat shoulder blade pain with physiotherapy?

Thankfully, physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for this type of pain. Physiotherapy can help to improve posture habits and increase range of motion. It can also help to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the shoulder blades, reducing the likelihood of future strain. In addition, physiotherapists can use techniques like soft-tissue release and acupuncture to promote blood flow to the area, which can speed up the healing process. If you are dealing with shoulder blade pain, be sure to consult a physiotherapist for an individualized treatment plan.

To find a top physiotherapist near you just click the search button on this page.

What are the most common shoulder injuries courtesy of BeActive Physiotherapy and Wellness. (Read the caption)


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, pain in the lungs can radiate to the back. This is because the lungs are located near the back and are connected to the spine. So, if something is wrong with the lungs, it can cause pain in the back. Pulmonary conditions that can cause back pain include pneumonia, lung cancer, and pleurisy. If you are experiencing back pain and think it may be related to your lungs, you should see a doctor for an evaluation.

If you are a side sleeper, make sure to use a thicker pillow to keep your neck is a neutral position. If you are a back sleeper, use a thinner pillow to ensure your neck is not propped up to high.

About Taylor Sipos

Taylor is a physiotherapist at The Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic located in Toronto, Ontario. He treats patients with various musculoskeletal conditions using patient education, exercise therapy, manual therapy and acupuncture. His treatment philosophy involves giving his patient’s the means to self-manage their injuries. He does this through reassurance, education and health promotion. Taylor uses the same principles as a patient educator at Pain Hero. He aims to provide you with high-quality, easy to understand information to teach you about your condition and how to improve it.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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