Pain Between Shoulder Blades Causes

Pain between the shoulder blades or more technically known as interscapular pain sounds odd and rare but isn’t totally impossible. It could just be pain due to some muscle strain or something more serious.

pain between shoulder blades

There are some pains in our lives that we have gradually learned to ignore and brave on ahead with life. But some pains shouldn’t be ignored. Oh, most definitely the kind of pain that your body lets you feel. Because physical pain is a clever way for our bodies to let us know that there is something wrong. One of those is the pain you might feel between your shoulder blades. This kind of pain may be trivial to some but hasn’t life taught us enough already that we shouldn’t take things too lightly especially when it comes to our health.

Interscapular Pain

Pain between the shoulder blades or more technically known as interscapular pain sounds odd and rare but isn’t totally impossible. Generally speaking, when an area of our body suddenly is in pain we always have to consider what structures are within and around the area where the pain is. For example when pain between the shoulder blades is felt one might want to consider the general structures found within that specific area. Like the rhomboids and middle and lower trapezius muscles, the thoracic spine and thoracic aorta, part of the esophagus, a portion of the heart, and parts of the lungs. These immediate structures might just be the cause of that pain that you feel between your shoulder blades. Or it could be entirely something else since the human body is also known to be capable of deferring pain from one part to the other. Just like when the soles of your feet hurt could also mean that there must be something wrong with your stomach area or something that ancient Asian medicine believed and used even in acupuncture.

Causes of Interscapular Pain

Let’s elaborate further on the matter of what could be causing the pain between your shoulder blades because it could just be a pain due to some muscle strain or something more serious.

Strained muscles

Pain between the shoulder blades can be caused by strained muscles due to lifting heavy weights or objects and or can stem from maybe prolonged bad posture while sitting, standing, or even sleeping.

Neck arthritis

It has also been observed that people who have neck arthritis do not feel the pain in their neck but actually feel it in between their shoulder blades.

Heart attacks

As surprising as it may seem, some patients of heart attack do not necessarily feel pain in their chest but oddly enough feel pain between their shoulder blades, this particular phenomena seem to be more observable in women than in men.

Traumatic injuries

The pain could be a result of a previous trauma like rotator cuff tears and or possibly from acromioclavicular joint separation which stems from the shoulder blades dislocating.

Disc diseases

We talked about deferred pain, wherein pain can be felt not necessarily in the area which is affected but rather in other areas of the body. Pain between the shoulder blades can be the deferred pain stemming from degenerative disc diseases in both the thoracic and cervical spine.

The big ‘C’

Patients with lung, mesothelioma, esophageal, lymphomas, liver cancer, and Pancost tumors would seem susceptible to shoulder blade pains since there are likely chances that tumors are pushing on some nerves that are near the area.

Thoracic aortic dissection

Rapture in the aorta will cause massive bleeding and can cause a sharp pain shooting right around the middle of the back.

Compression fractures

Fractures due to what we call osteoporosis can often result in interscapular pain.

Anesthesia (Epidural)

Women who are about to give birth and are given epidural for their labor and or in preparation for their C-section often experience interscapular pain but the pain eventually goes away as the drip slowly dissipates as well.

Problems with the Gallbladder

Inadvertently those who have problems with their gallbladder often experience pain, stabbing pain to be more precise right around the area between their shoulder blades as a result of eating meals that are just dripping with unsaturated fat.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD or more commonly known as acid reflux can cause deferred pain in the shoulder blades as well.


Since one of the structures found around the area of the shoulder blades is the spine, a curvature of it will much likely cause pain in that region because of the strain in the spine.

How to relieve pain between the shoulder blades?

If the cause of your interscapular pain is just muscle strain or tension then there is a way to relieve that aching pain by way of massaging. You have to be careful though massaging or rubbing any area of your body indiscriminately can further cause damage that is why always proceed with caution when trying to massage yourself or a family or a friend.

Start by locating tender points in your upper and middle back where your shoulder blades are. Tender points are muscle areas that generally are tender or hurt even when you lightly press on them. This is a good place to start massaging. You can do it with your fingers by gently doing a circular motion with your ring and index finger since they carry less force and won’t add unnecessary strain to an already tender point. You could also use a massage ball if want to just be extra careful in applying pressure. Massaging these tender points won’t make the pain immediately go away but regular massage therapy will help ease the tension in the muscles brought about by everyday strains of life.

If you have someone to massage your back for you then that’s great, just make sure to communicate well with the person to let them know if they hit a tender point and or the pressure they are applying is too much or not enough.

Again pain between the shoulder blades can be as simple as muscle tension brought about by different strenuous activities or simply bad posture. But the pain could also mean something as big and as worrisome as cancer or possible heart attacks so do not just dismiss the pain you feel. If the pain is recurring and is too much to bear than just typical body aches then please go see a doctor. Sometimes a matter of seconds means the difference between life and death.

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