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Should You Be Worried About Upper back pain between shoulder blades?

Sep 30, 2021 | Back Pain

An issue with spine, injury, or bad posture can all result in pain between shoulder blades. Muscle strain is the common cause of upper back pain between the shoulders.
Here are the common causes and treatments:


Some sports or exercises such as weight lifting, throwing a ball overhead, or specific swimming strokes can cause muscle pain between the shoulder blades. Such repeated movements can result in muscle strain.

Other related symptoms include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Inflammation
  • Fatigue in the area

Resting and icing the area is a great way to treat mild muscle strain. Add some pain relievers and get rid of the pain within a few weeks.

Apply a cold pack to the swollen area for 20 minutes and repeat this for a few hours. This will carry away the pain and inflammation. Gently move the shoulders every now and then to minimize stiffness. Also, while doing all this, stay away from activities or exercises that can strain your back muscles.


Stress can tense the body muscles, and they become stiff. The neck and shoulders are most affected by stress resulting in pain between the shoulder blades.

Headaches are the common outcome if the shoulder muscles are tense for a long period.

Getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly, sharing your feelings with loved ones can all help relieve stress.

Bad Posture

The way you stand or sit can also cause pain between the shoulder blades. Bad postures can strain your upper back muscles. These are:

  • sitting at a desk for long hours
  • using an uncomfortable chair
  • sitting crosslegged
  • leaning over a laptop for hours

Such postures can give you minor pain between the shoulder blades.

Slightly stretch the muscles in the upper back to relieve the pain. One way is to roll the shoulders forward and backward to get rid of stiff muscles. Another way is to link the hands behind your back and then slowly pull the arms downwards.

Lifting or carrying

Lifting heavy objects can cause aches in the upper back. One should be careful when handling heavy items.

If you carry a shoulder bag, it puts weight on the shoulders, stressing the muscles between the shoulder blades. Carrying heavy shopping bags is another way to stress the upper back muscles.
When packing bags, make sure just to add necessary items and keep them as light as possible. Instead of carrying too much weight in one trip, aim for multiple trips.

Muscle injury

Injured upper back muscles can be a source of pain between shoulder blades.

Injuries can happen due to exercising, falling, or lifting heavy objects resulting in severe pain.

Doing strengthening exercises, resting, and applying ice can help relieve mild muscle tears. In extreme cases of swelling, doctors may recommend steroid injections.

What to do

Most of the time, you may experience mild upper back pain. But some severe issues can cause pain between the shoulder blades. It’s important to consult a doctor if the pain becomes unmanageable.


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