Shoulder blade pain is a common cause of chronic pain that affects between seven and 67% people in the U.S. during their life. It is difficult to determine exactly how many people suffer from pain between their shoulder blades, because many choose not to seek treatment or think it will simply go away on its own. If you’re suffering from moderate to severe shoulder pain, though, know that shoulder blade pain relief is possible. Here are 15 shoulder blade pain causes and seven treatment options that can help.

Where do people typically feel shoulder pain?

The shoulder is a complex ball-and-socket joint that connects the clavicle (collarbone), upper arm bones (humerus), and scapula (shoulder blade). Muscles and tendons that surround the joint work to stabilize it.

Major muscle groups in this area of the back include:

  • Trapezius and rhomboids: V-shaped cape of muscle that originates across the tops of the shoulders and attaches to the thoracic spine
  • Teres major and teres minor: Bands of muscle that starts underneath the armpit and tucks under the rhomboids
  • Latissimus dorsi: Wide bands of muscle that support the mid-back, tucking underneath the teres minor and rhomboids below the shoulder blade

While not a weight-bearing joint like the knee, we ask a lot of our shoulders without thinking about it. We take for granted that we will be able to lift our kids, swing a bat, and haul groceries in from the car, but shoulder blade pain can interfere with many daily activities.

Shoulder blade pain can be felt anywhere along the tops of the shoulders and the back plane of the body. This includes:

  • Pain below the shoulder blade
  • Back pain between the shoulder blades
  • Shoulder blade muscle pain in the muscles that surround the shoulder blade

What's Causing My Shoulder Blade Pain? 15 Causes |

What causes shoulder blade pain?

Shoulder blade pain is caused by anything from accident and injury to more complicated (and surprising!) health issues. These may include:

  1. Stress
  2. Whiplash
  3. Tendon sheath inflammation
  4. Rotator cuff injuries and tears
  5. Adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder syndrome
  6. Arthritis
  7. Spinal stenosis
  8. Osteoarthritis
  9. Fractures
  10. Dislocation