There are many possible causes of pain that are felt between the shoulder blades. Pain between the shoulder blades may be felt from conditions affecting the structures located in this region, or can instead be referred pain that is felt between the shoulder blades but arises from another area. Some possible causes of pain between the shoulder blades include:
Postural conditions (anterior head carriage/Upper cross syndrome)
Herniated or bulging disc in the cervical spine
Herniated or bulging disc in the thoracic spine
Pain between the shoulder blades and movement of the spine
The thoracic spine or mid back is comprised of 12 thoracic vertebrae. Each vertebrae joins with an adjacent vertebrae primarily at the facet joints (located on each side of the spine, towards the back) and the intervertebral disc. Movements between each adjacent vertebrae are relatively small, but when combined over the entire vertebral column allow for a considerable amount of movement. In the thoracic spine the facet joints are orientated in the frontal plane, which means the primary movements of the thoracic spine are rotation/twisting and side bending. When you have a restriction in a segment of the thoracic spine which is not allowing for proper motion, the muscles in that area can become inflamed and develop tension and trigger points. This presents as pain and stiffness to the tissues involved and causes poor mechanics to the spine in the areas above and below the area of restriction.
Movement of facet joints
Pain between the shoulder blades can also be due to faulty movement of the ribs on the thoracic vertebrae themselves. The thoracic spine is a common area of complaint due to the fact that it is our main means of transverse rotation (rotating side to side). However, we live in a world where we are glued to a desk for hours on end sitting in poor slumped posture which robs us of our mobility over time. To make matters worse, our thoracic spine also consists of 12 pairs of ribs. The addition of ribs which need to move with each breathe we take adds to a higher probability of pain when they are not moving properly.
There are two main movements that the ribs perform with breathing; pump handle and bucket handle. Below is a description of both.
Pump handle movement
upside down movement; closely related to the movement of pump-handle
mainly contributes to the movement of upper ribs
as the Orientation of the joints of the ribs and vertebrae is closely related to saggital plane the upside down movement of ribs
Bucket handle movement
mainly the movement of lower ribs
as the Orientation of the joints of the ribs and vertebrae is related to frontal plane thus bucket handle movement occurs.
Relationship of movement of the ribs and breathing
You can see from the above photo how large of a roll proper movement of the ribs on the thoracic spine play. When one of these joints become restricted whether it be due to prolonged poor posture, muscle strains/spasm, trauma or faulty movement you can feel pain between the shoulder blades. One of the least invasive, successful ways to regain this proper motion is a Chiropractic adjustment. The adjustment plays a crucial role in regaining proper movement between the vertebrae themselves and the movement of the ribs on the vertebrae allowing for increased range of motion and decreasing the pain felt between the shoulder blades.
The Behm Muscle & Joint Clinic approach to pain between the shoulder blades
At Behm Muscle & Joint Clinic our first step is to identify what is causing the pain between the shoulder blades. Our Bellevue, NE Chiropractors will complete an exam including orthopedic, neurological, functional and range of motion tests to identify the cause of your pain. We combine Chiropractic adjustments, manual therapy (Active Release Technique, Dry Needling, Graston) and rehabilitation exercises to treat the dysfuctional movement or structure causing your pain. New patients are always welcome. If you or someone you know is suffering with pain between the shoulder blades do not hesitate to contact us today at 402-292-1450 or schedule a consultation online.