You might be wondering why we are addressing this topic today, that pain between shoulder blades is nothing serious. And in most cases I would agree with you, but sometimes this pain can be an indication of something far more severe than a simple muscle strain.

I don’t want to cause you worry and add to your stress level, but if you notice that the pain is not going away even after several days of inactivity and rest, you should contact your doctor, since shoulder blade pain may be linked to heart, gallbladder problems and even some types of cancer.

Most Common Symptoms

Of course, most common symptom of pain between shoulder blades pain is PAIN, bet you didn’t know that :D

But seriously, some of the most common complaints people have are:

  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Pain when stretching back muscles in this area
  • Pain when bending your head forward
  • Presence of muscle knots
  • Or the sensation of sharp, stabbing, burning pain


Neck muscle illustration
Photo (c)

As I`ve stated earlier, the pain can be short-lasting, benign and posing no threat to your overall health. People usually experience this sort of pain after working out, when sitting for long periods of time, after waking up (poor mattress or poor sleeping posture) etc.

This pain usually doesn’t last long and you can relieve yourself by applying ice or simply resting in a comfortable position.

Pain between should blades can, however, be caused by more severe health problems.

Heart Problems – this type of pain can, in some cases, be caused by a heart attack. It is very intense and can last up to 2 hours. This is why you need to be aware of your body at all times. If you notice the pain is not going away, call your doctor.

Gallbladder Problems – since the gallbladder is located in the upper section of the abdomen, passing a stone or some other problem affecting it may translate into this pain.

Cancer – yes, the dreaded C word. Of course, cancer is not the most common cause of this pain, but some patients complain that pain, in combination with shortness of breath and a chronic, long-lasting cough.

Spinal And Muscle Pain

Before we proceed, I would like to make a distinction between muscle and spinal pain since I don’t see many posts addressing it. Spinal pain tends to me more sudden, sharp in nature and can indicate that there is something wrong with your cervical spine, most often it will be a herniated disc.

Muscle pain is perceived more as a dull, annoying ache, lasting for long periods of time.

                Dull Ache

A Dull ache is usually felt in the muscles and it can last for long periods of time. Any number of things can cause this specific type of pain. Most often, it will be the result of our poor sitting habits and poor posture.

People with poor posture place more pressure and strain onto the muscles in this area, forcing them to do more than they should. And you don’t need a Ph.D. to figure out that overused muscles will start to get sore, hurt and actually limit the range of motion in your upper back. A common way of dealing with it is stretching and working out.

                Spinal/Neural Pain

This type of pain is a bit nastier and patients usually describe it as sudden and very intense, it feels as if somebody is stabbing them in the back.

Conditions which might cause it are:

How Can You Treat It

As much as I hate talking about treatment online and recommending exercises without accessing individual condition, I feel obligated to leave you with some common practices which will make the pain a little less intense and more bearable.

Keep in mind that these exercises might not be able to help you if you have any of the more severe conditions, we discussed earlier.

  1. Proper Posture. We could be so much healthier if people became just a bit more aware of their body and the condition their spine is. I realize that you might get so caught up in your work sometimes that you simply forget about your posture, but in the future try to pay more attention to it
  2. Stretching Exercises. Stretching exercises and exercises in general, are our road to not just a healthy back, but a healthy overall body as well. If you are looking for some stretching, and exercises in general you might be interested in reading this article: Morning Workout Routine, and if you are looking for back pain relief, you can check out our Back Pain Exercises
  3. Direction stretching. Try pulling your head from side to side, then from front to back. Make sure you pull your head gently and make no sudden movements.
  4. Medication. You can take medication if you simply can`t deal with pain any longer, but keep in mind that medication will only address the symptoms, not the underlying problem.
  5. Seek help. Why risk it? Visit your doctor and see what is causing your back problems.