5 Best Home Remedies To Relieve Shoulder Blade Pain

Learn to manage the shooting pain in your shoulder blade with effective natural therapies.

Reviewed by Dr. Henok Malede, BS, MPH, RYT
By Shaheen Naser

Shoulder blade pain spreads across the back of the shoulder and shoots every time you lift weights. It may interfere with your day-to-day activities. You may feel a tight knot or a sharp burning sensation between the spine and the shoulder blade. The pain may spread to your upper back and shoulders if left untreated. Luckily, several home remedies can help manage the pain and provide relief.

Multiple factors can trigger shoulder blade pain. However, the major causes are sitting in an incorrect posture, sitting for extended durations, and sleeping in the wrong posture. While it is mostly due to physical trauma, continuous shoulder blade pain may sometimes indicate an underlying medical condition.

This article discusses natural remedies that are effective for shoulder blade pain management and prevent shoulder blade pain. Continue reading to know more about them in detail.

What Is Shoulder Blade Pain?

Pain that occurs between the shoulder blades is quite common. This condition is medically known as interscapular pain, and its causes may range from simple strain to serious conditions like heart or liver problems.

Those with a painful shoulder blade usually experience a dull, aching, sore, or shooting pain in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.

Where exactly are your shoulder blades located? Let’s find out.

Where Is Your Shoulder Blade?

The shoulder blades are triangular-shaped bones that are located at the back of your shoulders and are medically termed as scapulae. Each of your shoulder blades connects the collarbone to the upper arm bone. It also has about three groups of muscles attached to it to aid in moving the shoulder joint.

You must have noticed that your shoulders have a wide range of motion. This is all thanks to the muscles that connect them and allow the shoulders to rotate, move up and down, side to side, and in a circle. Since your shoulders can move in so many ways, it is quite easy to injure them, leading to shoulder blade pain.

However, injuries are not the only cause of shoulder blade pain. In some cases, this pain could be an indication of distress to the nearby organs.

Discussed below are some of the main triggers of shoulder blade pain.

What Causes Pain Between The Shoulder Blades?

A muscle or tendon injury is one of the main causes of shoulder blade pain. Such injuries could result from:

  • Poor posture
  • Heavy weightlifting
  • Working in an incorrect posture, like in the front of a computer, for several hours
  • Exercising
  • Physical trauma from a hit, accident, or fall

Certain medical conditions could also trigger shoulder blade pain. This is called referred pain as it occurs in the shoulder blades but due to a problem in another part of your body.

Some of the causes of a referred pain in your shoulder blades may include:

  • Pulmonary issues, like a collapsed lung, clots that tend to travel from the legs to the lungs, or lung cancer.
  • Cardiac causes, like a tear in the aorta of the heart, inflammation of the heart’s lining, or heart attack, especially in women.
  • Problems in the back, like a slipped disc.
  • Gallbladder diseases
  • Liver problems
  • Bone and/or joint problems, like osteoporosis, arthritis, scoliosis, etc.
  • Musculoskeletal issues are triggered by strain, poor sleeping posture, and overuse of muscles.
  • Abdominal issues from nerve pain, peptic ulcers, liver disease, or pancreatitis.
  • Allergies

If the shoulder blade pain has become too unbearable for you, the best possible option is to consult a doctor to find out the cause of the pain.

[ Read: 15 Best Shoulder Exercises For Women ]

How To Diagnose Shoulder Blade Pain

Your doctor may begin by asking you a few simple questions regarding your symptoms and try to figure out the possible reasons for your pain.

If the simple/common causes have been ruled out, the doctor may go ahead and perform different assessments. They may include tests like:

  • Abdominal tests like an endoscopy
  • Heart tests like a stress test or an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
  • MRI or CT scan to carry out radiological tests of the chest and back
  • Blood tests to test the functioning of the liver

Once the cause of your shoulder blade pain is discovered, your doctor will discuss the treatment options with you. Serious underlying medical conditions like cancer or a heart problem may need specific treatments, for which you may be referred to a cardiologist or an oncologist.

If the cause of the pain is found to be a result of some form of physical trauma or poor posture, painkillers or ointments may be prescribed. Certain natural remedies may also assist in reducing shoulder blade pain caused by overuse or strain of muscles. They are as follows.

5 Home Remedies To Relieve Shoulder Blade Pain

1. Ice Or Heat Compress

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You Will Need

A hot or cold compress

What You Have To Do
  1. Apply an ice or heat compress to the affected area.
  2. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Remove and repeat twice.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this 2-3 times daily until the symptoms improve.

Why This Works

A cold compress can help alleviate pain and swelling due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, whereas, a hot compress improves circulation, thereby helping in reducing pain (1).

2. Epsom Salt Bath

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You Will Need
  • 1 cup of Epsom salt
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Fill your tub with water and add a cup of Epsom salt to it.
  2. Allow the salt to dissolve and soak in the bath for 15-20 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this once daily or every alternate day.

Why This Works

The magnesium content of Epsom salt can help relieve shoulder blade pain with its inflammation-reducing properties (2).

3. Stretching

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You must be familiar with the term ‘warm-ups.’ These are done before beginning any intense exercising routine. Doing a few stretches before and after workouts can help a great deal in avoiding muscle soreness post exercising, which is one of the many triggers of shoulder blade pain (3). Ask your physical trainer to suggest stretching exercises to help your muscles become more flexible.

4. Massage Therapy

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Therapeutic massage therapies can also be of great help in alleviating shoulder blade pain and the inflammation associated with it (4). While this effect may last for a short time, it is almost immediate. However, be sure to get the massage done by a professional for the best results.

[ Read: 14 Body Massage Oils And Their Benefits ]

5. Kinesiology Tape (KT)

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You Will Need
  • A KT or kinesiology tape
What You Have To Do
  1. Take a kinesiology tape and put it across the muscle bellies of your shoulder girdle.
  2. If you do not know how to use it, seek help from someone who knows how to place it properly.
  3. You may also take professional help or watch a tutorial for the correct application of the tape to the affected area.
How Often You Should Do This

You can keep it on for about 5 days. Reuse it only if the pain persists.

Why This Works

Taping using kinesiology tapes is aimed at improving or controlling scapular movements for patients who have shoulder problems. Its main function is to provide support to the injured individual while moving around. It can also help with short-term pain management (5).

These remedies will help a great deal in getting rid of that stubborn pain in your shoulder blades. However, it is better if you take some precautions to prevent this pain from recurring every now and then.

How To Prevent Shoulder Blade Pain

  • Be cautious and avoid falls.
  • Wear a seatbelt whenever you sit in a car.
  • Do not jump head-on into a new workout routine. Give your body some time to get used to it.
  • Change your sleeping position.
  • Follow a healthy diet that is rich in nutrients to help your body stay strong.
  • Get moderate exercise daily.
  • Avoid sitting in the same position for too long.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects if you are not used to it.

The pain between your shoulder blades may cause extreme discomfort. It may also lead to shooting pain in the upper back. But, in most cases, the pain may subside with proper treatment and rest. You also can check certain effective home remedies to help relieve shoulder blade pain. Using ice or heat compress, Epsom salt bath, stretching, massage therapy, and Kinesiology tape may help improve the associated pain. In addition, wearing a seatbelt, changing sleeping positions, and avoiding sitting in the same position for a long time may help prevent shoulder blade pain.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does stress cause shoulder blade pain?

Stress can lead to tightness in the neck and shoulder muscles, causing pain and stiffness in the area around the shoulder blades. It may also make the pain sensation from an existing shoulder blade injury worse.

Can acid reflux cause back pain between shoulder blades?

In severe cases of acid reflux or GERD, the pain may radiate to the area between the shoulder blades from the upper stomach and chest region.

Sources

    1. Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury.” Postgraduate Medical Journal, US National Library of Medicine.
    2. Magnesium Decreases Inflammatory Cytokine Production: A Novel Innate Immunomodulatory Mechanism” Journal of Immunology, US National Library of Medicine.
    3. Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury.” Sports Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
    4. Effectiveness of massage therapy for shoulder pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis” Journal of Physical Therapy Science, US National Library of Medicine.
    5. CLINICAL EFFECTIVENESS OF KINESIOLOGICAL TAPING ON PAIN AND PAIN‐FREE SHOULDER RANGE OF MOTION IN PATIENTS WITH SHOULDER IMPINGEMENT SYNDROME: A RANDOMIZED, DOUBLE BLINDED, PLACEBO‐CONTROLLED TRIAL” International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, US National Library of Medicine.

Key Takeaways

  • Shoulder blades pain occurs at the back of the shoulder, and the pain may spread to your upper back with a sharp burning sensation between the spine and the shoulder blade.
  • Sitting for extended durations and sleeping in the wrong posture can trigger shoulder blade pain.
  • Ice or heat compress, Epsom salt bath, stretching, massage therapy, and usage of kinesiology tape (KT) are home remedies to treat shoulder blade pain.

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author
Shaheen holds a postgraduate degree in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology. She is a Geneticist with proficiency in Biotechnology, Immunology,... more

Dr. Henok Malede

(BS, MPH-D, RYT)
Dr. Henok Leake Malede began his career in Atlanta, Georgia and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana after completing his undergraduate... more

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