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

Back pain between the shoulder blades

Back pain is a common complaint of people of different ages. The area between the shoulder blades often feels unpleasant. Pain syndrome may be related to spinal diseases and internal organ diseases.

Using narcotic ointments, other analgesics is not an option. Relieving discomfort will improve health, but the pathological process will further damage the spine or internal organs. In some cases, back pain between the shoulder blades is the result of lung cancer and stomach metastases. Deal with this problem responsibly and entrust professionals to deal with it.

Possible causes of pain

Back pain in the scapula area

Why does the back pain in the shoulder blade area? Remember: Pain is a symptom of other diseases, not a separate pathology. Only by finding the root cause of the discomfort can you overcome the disease and get rid of the unpleasant feeling. Experts divide the causes of shoulder blade pain into two categories: spinal disease and internal organ disease. Let us consider each group of possible causes in detail.

Intervertebral hernia

This phenomenon is very rare, and the lumbar spine rather than the thoracic spine is often affected. The pathological feature is that the annulus fibrosis begins to protrude under the action of various unfavorable factors, and the distance between the vertebrae is significantly reduced, which causes the nerve root to be compressed. The fiber ring acts as a shock absorber.

A herniated thoracic intervertebral disc is characterized by local pain and sometimes discomfort extending to the chest, similar to symptoms of respiratory tract and heart disease.

Spinal tuberculosis

Many people have forgotten about this disease, but according to statistics, 99% of the world's population are carriers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In the context of mechanical damage to the spine, hypothermia, or weakened immune system, tuberculosis foci may form at the injured site. Pathology is not always recognized in time, even on X-rays.

Usually, this disease is found in a neglected form, when patients already have many complications, they will complain of severe pain in the scapula area. A feature of tuberculosis is increased body temperature, a burning sensation in the thoracic area, and the possibility of spreading to nearby tissues.

Muscle strain, hypothermia

Excessive physical exertion, improper exercise in the gym, and frequent sitting in uncomfortable positions can cause excessive strain on the back muscles. Office workers, truck drivers, surgeons, and tailors are easily affected by this pathology.

In the context of hypothermia (uncontrolled operation of air conditioning, ventilation), health conditions deteriorate. The pain in the scapula area is aggravated, and the patient needs non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, rubbed with a special ointment. Avoid drafts and excessive physical exertion.


Every student heard about the disease from teachers and parents while sitting at the desk incorrectly. Adults forget the prevention advice, which can cause 50% of the population to have varying degrees of scoliosis. This disease is a curvature of the spine, often suffering from thoracic, cervical, and spine. The ribs are closely connected to the rib cage, so the patient complains of pain in the scapula area.

Characteristic signs of scoliosis include:

  • Increase fatigue of the back muscles;
  • One shoulder can be on top of the other;
  • Scapula discomfort occurs during manual labor, sitting in front of a computer for a long time, or can continue to accompany the victim.


Spondyloarthropathy is the cause of pain between the shoulder blades

This disease is similar to osteochondrosis, and only experts can notice the difference in some specific studies. Spondyloarthropathy is characterized by cartilage destruction, and the missing area is replaced by bone tissue, leading to scapula herniation, nerve damage and severe pain.


A sedentary lifestyle, obesity can cause degenerative changes in the joints and spine. Osteochondrosis can be diagnosed even in children. The cause of the pain is the inflammatory process of the soft tissue adjacent to the damaged vertebra, which further squeezes the nerve.

Medical disease

All organs and systems of the body are interconnected. Pain in the scapula may indicate many diseases not related to the spine:

  • Diseases of the cardiovascular system. Myocardial infarction, coronary artery disease, and angina pectoris can cause acute chest pain that radiates to the scapula. During an acute attack, the discomfort lasts no more than five minutes, the blood pressure drops sharply, and cold sweats appear. In this case, please call the ambulance team;
  • Gastrointestinal diseases. Pancreatitis, cholecystitis, and peptic ulcer disease are common causes of chest pain from different angles. Cancer diseases in this area can also cause discomfort;
  • Respiratory diseases. Scapula pain is accompanied by cough, chills, fever, and muscle aches.

Back pain during pregnancy

Back pain between the shoulder blades during pregnancy

In the context of increased pressure, curvature of the spine, and finding that the body is in an abnormal state while carrying a child, patients will experience varying degrees of pain. Changes in the center of gravity can cause excessive compression of the vertebrae, which can cause discomfort.

Pain in the scapula area after childbirth may accompany the parturient. This is all the fault of epidural anesthesia, which is often used for caesarean section. The operation itself involves introducing a special catheter into the epidural space and placing it in a position that does not touch the spinal cord within the required time. Analgesics are given through a catheter to help numb the lower body for a period of time.

Improper operation, sharp turns during catheterization, and other unforeseen circumstances can cause damage to the membrane (substance of the spinal cord). The procedure itself is very complicated and requires the maximum professionalism of the doctor.


The nature of the pain in the scapula area is very important, it helps to find the cause of the discomfort:

  • Chronic-The victim often feels bad, with bouts of dull pain and periods of "calm". This type is typical of osteochondrosis, intervertebral disc herniation and other chronic diseases of the spine;
  • sharp. Suddenly, the patient felt a burst of pain and the discomfort suddenly disappeared. This photo is a typical trauma, nerve root pinching, and internal organ disease.

notes!In addition, patients may complain of overall spinal discomfort, headaches, and clinical manifestations of other underlying diseases.


What to do with back pain in the shoulder blade area? Often, patients do not know which specialist to contact. It all depends on the nature of the pain, its duration, and the negative events before the discomfort.

Check the back for pain between the shoulder blades

Make a diagnosis:

  • Neuropathologist. Most victims should contact this doctor, because intervertebral disc herniation and osteochondrosis are accompanied by nerve root compression and corresponding symptoms;
  • Orthopedics-traumatologists. If there are spinal deformities (kyphosis, scoliosis), ankylosing spondylitis, and various traumas of the spine, it is recommended to see a specialist;
  • Therapist or family doctor. Doctors often solve many problems of patients. A doctor who knows the family history will determine the characteristics of the patient, the cause of the discomfort, or refer to a more professional expert.

Multiple studies are used to diagnose shoulder blade pain: X-ray, CT, MRI, blood test, urine test. The specific operation depends on the nature of the pain and the presence of discomfort.

Effective treatment options

In the case of acute pain, the main task is to stop it. Then they find out the cause of the discomfort and prescribe the necessary treatment plan.

If the scapula is uncomfortable, it is recommended:

  • Temporarily relieve pain. Use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. According to the severity of the discomfort, the medicine is used in the form of tablets, ointments, and injections;
  • Physical therapy (magnetic therapy, UHF, shock wave therapy, mud therapy). In the case of spine problems, physical therapy on the scapula area is an indispensable aspect of treatment. Manipulation can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. You cannot use this method to treat infectious diseases caused by tumors and pus;
  • Massage, manual therapy. It is only used for pain caused by nerve root compression and vertebral injury. The influence on the spine helps to stretch and relax the muscles;
  • Compression, emulsion. Use the ratio of Dimexide (1: 3), alcohol (1: 1) and water. Compression copes with discomfort and relieves inflammation. Soak cheesecloth in the finished infusion, wrap it in cellophane, and leave it for two hours. Apply gel or ointment after surgery.

Taking into account the developmental stage of the pathology, the diseases of the internal organs are treated in other ways. In each case, the doctor will choose a separate course of treatment. Self-treatment is harmful to health and even life.


Massage back pain between the shoulder blades

Preventing discomfort is important in itself, but it is necessary to prevent the root cause of discomfort.

Expert advice:

  • Go to massage regularly;
  • Give up excessive stress, but light exercise is good for muscle corsets;
  • Avoid air currents and hypothermia;
  • Eat right, try to get rid of bad habits.

In the case of pain between the shoulder blades, it is important to seek help from an expert in time. Pathological changes are not formed in a day. The sooner treatment is started, the more likely it is to recover completely and to minimize the risk of irreversible consequences for the body.