Pain between shoulder blades: symptoms, causes & tips

Pain between the shoulder blades is quite common in people who drive a lot or work at the computer for long periods of time. Incorrect posture and overload of the upper back are therefore logical causes of tension and pain between the shoulders. But other, more serious causes can also be the cause of pain between the shoulder blades. Back problems or even heart disease can be related to that annoying stabbing pain between the shoulder blades. Wearing a shoulder brace and taking painkillers if necessary can provide relief from the complaints. In severe cases, medical therapy is required, and a chiropractor will treat the affected area with massage, among other things. What can you do about this nagging and sometimes stabbing pain between the shoulders?

Transition of neck and back

Pain at the top of the back can be located between the two shoulder blades. You then suffer from an unpleasant, tense and painful feeling approximately in the middle of the area between your shoulders. People who suffer from it sometimes also describe this pain as “high back pain” or pain at the bottom of the neck. Tension and pressure in this area can really hinder your posture and body movements. In some people, the pain only occurs in certain circumstances (for example, stress), while in others it is chronic.


The pain that occurs between your shoulders can be experienced as a persistent, nagging pain that feels very tense. It can also be a cramp-like pain that is sometimes compared to a muscle cramp. But the pain can also be stabbing and experienced as oppressive or oppressive. You then have the feeling that something is blocked that causes pain and prevents you from moving freely enough. In that case, some people have problems breathing calmly. This can cause you to experience a (panic) feeling of restlessness. The pain between the shoulder blades can be accompanied by pain in the neck and pain in the upper back.

Pain between shoulder blades: causes

Upper back strain

The most common cause of pain between the shoulder blades is irritation of the muscles in the upper back. Together, the joints can have a harder time functioning properly. An incorrect sitting position and overload are often the cause of the pain. Working on the computer for a long time or driving a car often can cause constant tension, causing you to develop pain without realizing it. In this case, people also often suffer from a stiff neck, which can be very tiring for the head, shoulders and neck.

Back problems

Pain between the shoulders can indicate back problems such as a hernia or blockage of the intervertebral disc. A nerve may be blocked at the top of the vertebra, causing you to experience a sharp, aching pain at the top of the back. This pain may pass over time or come back again.

Heart problems

Pain between the shoulder blades can accompany chest pain . In that case, there may be a heart problem, such as angina pectoris. There is poor blood flow to the blood vessels to the heart, which can cause chest pain to radiate to the back. The patient may experience this as pain between the shoulders. Pain between the shoulders can also be felt in case of cardiac arrhythmias.

Other causes

  • reflux
  • stress
  • stomach problems
  • lung problems
  • psychological tensions


Pain between shoulders: treatment


First of all, one must look for the correct cause of the pain. It is then important to remove the cause, such as avoiding the same posture in the office, or solving the back problem. A good tip is to regularly do relaxing exercises for your neck if you have to “use the computer” for a long time.


In addition, painkillers can be prescribed to relieve the pain, for example mild painkillers such as paracetamol or NSAIDs. The latter have an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect.
Some examples of such painkillers:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Diclofenac (Voltaren)



Examination by the doctor should provide more clarity about the treatment, and the help of the chiropractor can often be very useful, especially for vertebral problems. With this treatment, the specific problem is examined in detail, after which an appropriate therapy is proposed. Massage of the affected area can be very useful because it loosens the muscles and stimulates blood circulation. A massage oil that is specifically aimed at the neck and shoulders can be used. Finally, a massage device can also help to make the shoulders more flexible and mobile.

Shoulder brace

To give the shoulders more support, wearing a shoulder brace can be very efficient. Thanks to a shoulder brace, the shoulders, neck and upper back region can enjoy more stability. This provides more flexibility, which means you can move more easily and suffer less from a crampy, painful feeling.
Some examples of efficient shoulder braces:

  • Bauerfeind Omoloc
  • Ligaflex Clavicula


read more

  • Shoulder pain? Causes & tips for shoulder pain
  • Negative consequences of a sedentary life at the computer
  • Do you suffer from a stiff neck? Causes, treatment & tips
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