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Tense Shoulders/Shoulder Blade Pain


I have pain and want your opinion. I can’t figure out if it’s my shoulder or upper back or both.
On the right side of my back under my shoulder blade I have a sharp pain, my shoulders are tense and the back of my neck. Mostly the pain radiates all around my right side, my shoulder is achy and the pain goes down the back of my arm. It doesn’t hurt when I go like this (teehee) when I lift my arm or move my shoulder. It doesn’t hurt to lift anything. BUT, it is waking me up at night and I can bearly move my neck or lift my head off the pillow. Then it hurts between my shoulder blades. When I lower my head, it hurts between my shoulder blades, but more so on the right side all the time.
This has been going on for about 2 weeks now and I am exhausted and tired of the pain. I’ve been taking Exedrine Migraine and that helps a lot. I have been stretching, lifting light weights, doing my Pilates using the heating pad and a vibrator and Nothing seems to work!
It even hurts in my arm pit sometimes and behind my right boob.
I know Xrays won’t show any muscle stuff. What should I do? Any suggestions?


  1. you should go to the physio who can you you a massage. i had the exact same problem on my left side and went to a chiro thinking it was my back but after a few sessions it still ached like anything. i then went to a physio who did the massage and Tada! it was gone! it had something to do with the way i sat at work at my desk and my poor back muscles, also carrying a heavy handbag and stiletto heels!

  2. I have found tremendous relief through exersize. But the only exersizes that are working for me are the ones I do on my TotalGym. Yep, the Chuck Norris/Christie Brinkley infomercial. You can get them pretty cheaply now on craigslist or ebay, and a friend got one for $60 off a paper plate ad at a grocery store! When I am doing these exersizes regularly, I wake up a little stiff and sore, but with no sharp pain like I used to have. Hope this helps!

  3. I wish I could have answered this question years ago, but hopefully my answer will be of some use to those who are just reading this now. I have a fair depth of knowledge in neurology due to my own spinal cord condition, and I think the problems described by Smiller sound like a neurological problem. It’s important to see your primary care (family) physician and talk about everything (and I mean everything) that has bothered you. If they right you off, see another doctor. Don’t feel attached to a single doctor, because you wouldn’t believe the number of people out there who have serious diseases that were ignored by their doctors in the beginning.Now I will speculate about Smiller’s condition. Pain around the shoulder blades is called interscapular pain and can be referred from C8 around the cervical spine. I had the same pain from syringomyelia and Lyrica worked wonders (no, I’m not a pharm rep). Pain from around the neck, shoulders, and upper back is likely because of a problem in the cervical spine/spinal cord. The lower portion of the cervical spinal cord innervates the hands. Anyway, I would bet on a bulging or herniated disc in this area. It is common in middle and old age. If you have a problem like this, see your doctor. You will get a referral to a neurologist who should order an MRI, but an X-ray can see if you have a disc issue and is much cheaper. Don’t wait long to get something like this treated. The longer you wait, the worse the disc problem becomes, possibly to the point where you need surgery, and to be frank, surgery will not cure you. It will only provide some relief, but whenever operating on the spine/spinal cord, there is some possibly you will have no relief or even feel worse.

  4. it only came on the other day, it hurts all at back of neck and between shoulder blades, when i move forward and put arms back, or move neck from side to side.

  5. You need to go see a chiropracter, anything a hospital cant see or fix on a x-ray, the chiropracter can. I had the same issue and when I went it took care of it.

  6. Sorry for the double post there…I have the same sharp burning pain in my shoulder blade. Sometimes it is so bad I want to cry and get down on the floor, like tonight in KFC. Once my husband pressed on it and it made it much worse. I’ve had it for a few months, and the only thing I can think of that has changed is my office chair! I used to have one that tilted down so my back was really straight, but this one is like a little bucket seat so my back slumps more in it. I think it’s bad to sit for a long time in this position. When I sit back in my chair and let my back be supported by the chair it feels better. Typing can’t be good for it, so maybe I’ll try a gel wrist pad. I’m pretty sure it’s my chair that is causing the problem. It’s a big executive style chair. I’m going to lay back and type and pretend I’m a real executive and see if that helps. Now I feel a lump above my left knee and it’s huge! My muscles are a mess!

  7. Thank you for all of your posts. They helped me make the decision to see a physiotherapist and I have to say I am improving and in much less pain.I was getting severe pain in the upper back, radiating from between the shoulder blades. I only got it at night and the pain would wear off during the day. I couldn’t put my chin to my chest as it was too painfull and at night I would have to wake up to lift my head so I could roll over.The physio sat me in front of a mirror and aked me if I noticed anything. And sure enough I saw that my right shoulder was much lower than my left (I’m right handed and when I drive or use a computer -which I do a lot! – I only really use my right hand). This was pulling the spine and then the muscles in the wrong direction. This is fine during the day when you are moving about – but at night as your body is finally lying straight (as it should be) it tries to pull you back into the correct position which in turn causes all the pain. The trick is to start improving your posture during the day. I’ve changed my chair and desk height and now have my computer in the correct position. I also do neck and shoulder stretches often and try to use my left hand more often. There are loads of web sites out their advising on posture and occupational health.This has worked for me, but of course speak to your doctor/therapist first. Also, if your doc is not working and you are still in pain then shop around for a new one! I tried two others before I found one that made common sense and gave useful advise.All the best x

  8. This one is a sensored, i speak from experience.Its more of an entrapment. Dont be surprized if the neuropathy moves around, goes to the other shoulder on occasion, turns into number fingers and much more.It involves the neck, scalene muscles, lats, and much much more.The best thing you can do at first is walk briskly,swinging your arms as much as comfortable.IF possible see someone that practices active release technique. Ly on the floor hands outstretched above your head. clasp your hands and slowly bring them down together to your waist. Repeat that. Your arm will probably spasm. Look into rotator cuff exercises, but do all slowly. Later on wear a cervical collar a few hours a day, and do the above exercises. You may also notice your shoulder blade popping. it took me a year to improve.

  9. Shoulder and neck pain. Sometimes right, sometimes left. The pain moved from left to right and vice versa in few hours. It feels worse in the morning until I take a hot bath. Running also makes it worse. I also use computer 8 hours a day at work. I try not to use PC at home due to this pain. Tried an ortho and now joined physical therapy.
    I think bad posture was reason alng with another tendonitis I suffered. The physio said because of not using muscles during tendonitis the shoulder muscles got stiff. I had a very active life style before this. (paddling, running, weight training). Now I am just scared of doing all these.

  10. i have problems with my right shoulder blade too ,it feels as though a knife is beeing inserted just under shoulder blade when i stretch or try to push against anything with right arm, allso top of right shoulder above arm joint aches and cracks and arm aches to

  11. I have read all of the posts and think I have a similar problem.. however, my pain is in the left shoulder blade.. I am at the computer most of the day and do tend to lean alot on my left elbow to the extent that it does get sore. .I have gel pads on the arms of my desk chair but it hasn’t helped.. the burning pain in the left shoulder blade has been going on for a couple of weeks. it seems worse when I am at the computer.. so have to think it is related. I haven’t found anything as yet that stops the pain once it gets bad and really burns. Any suggestions are most welcome. Thanks.. Lyn

  12. I have been living with the same pain for about 6 months. I have tried the chiropractor, massage therapist and finally my family physician. The massage therapist and doctor both said that their is a muscle that has experienced trauma and after time is now considered a ball of fire. The muscle needs to release the tension. I was given a muscle relaxer and celebrex to help with the pain along with my daily neck and back stretches. Hopefully the muscle will release and i will be free of pain. good luck to you all.

  13. Oh No I have this too. I’m a bookkeeper. I’ve had the gallbaldder out that has caused me even more problems with my colon.
    I had no gallstones they said it just wasn’t functioning. The pai is still there and now Doctors are so reluctant to write perscriptions. I know that a lot of people abuse drugs but I don’t I may take a handful of Lortab or lorcet a year but when the pain is realy bad that is the medication that help my houlder and my stomach when my colon goes crazy and has those horribly painful spasms. I’m 40 and feel 70 at times.
    I’ve recently changed doctors and hope we can communicate better than some others. Hope everyone feels good today and have better days in the future.

  14. You are hardly alone with the pain in the upper back and right shoulder blade, I have had this for a few years and just keeps getting worse, I went the gallbladder thing and had my gallbladder removed, Guess what? Still have the pain in the right shoulder blade, The gallbladder was bad and I had such hope for the pain to go away, My dr says it is all muscular, I have done it all. Pain clinics and adjustments and therapy and nothing seems to help. I am very depressed, I sit at a desk all day which does not help at all. If anyone has any ideas send them my way, I have read all the post and we all sound alike, I guess helps to at least know we are not alone , I will keep on trying to find the answers, In this day and age no one should have to live in pain, Thanks for letting me vent,

  15. Yea Im having the same problem pain on the shoulder blade .My arm aches and I find it veryfrustrating because then I cant use the computerIs there any way out of this nightmare .I have just got a job and if this continues i will be othrown out on day one itself!!!!!

  16. I have similar pain symptoms. I sometimes feel as if my whole right shoulder was burning. also the my neck sometimes is quite stiff. the pain now causes headaces. I think I know what is causing the pain. I work on the computer alot. Also I think it has something to do with the mattress or the pillow I sleep on.

  17. I have the same thing as well. Lately I have been using Cool and Heat sticky patches on my shoulder blades and on my neck. It helps me get by. I sit at my desk everyday and want to scream because of the pain. There really isnt a time it isnt there. The patches on my back really help that a lot. I have pain in the shoulder blades, neck and arms and supposable it is caused by Degenerative Disc Disease and Arthritis. I am only 28 years old and have had it for as long as I can remember. It just keeps getting worse too! I am scheduled to have an L5, S1 fusion next week to take care of the degeneration and the bulging disc in my L5. You just got to keep your head up and know things will get better! When I recover from my surgery I am going to do anything and everything to figure this beast out and help others. It is an awful thing to have. Being in pain and uncomfortable not only messes with your body but it messes with your mind. I feel so helpless a lot and tired of it and alone. It is amazing how many of us in pain are out there! Most important find a good Doctor you trust and can talk with that cares to really find the answers for you. I have been fortunate to have found two really great Doctors at Wellington Sports Medicine in CincinnatiDr. Jesse Eisler and Dr. Valentine. Try doing Pilates, yoga or whatever may interest you physically. Work on your posture! It is funny how the entire back is affected by one out of wack piece. It is so important to strengthen your muscles around the pain points. When they hurt all you do is guard yourself and make your body tense, which then only makes the rest of the back get worse. strengthening and stretching are a must! The smallest out of alignment, faulty disc, tension can make the whole body suffer. I suggest going to PT and really getting your therapist to work where the problem lies. It is an ongoing and hard process that you have to stick to. Good luck!

  18. Hello all! My name is Victoria, I am a singal mom of 4. I have had back pain for as long as I can remember. I’ve had X-Rays a few times in the past few yearsif not longer. They always came back as if there wasn’t anything wrong with my back. Well as of Sept. 2002 when I got pregnant with my 5th baby who is 7 months now. I was in pain 24/7, couldn’t sleep, and could hardly move around. Of course when I went to the ER, or my OB GYN , they all said it was normal, it was because I was pregnant. Like I am a big baby and winning because I am having another baby, my 5th one now don’t forget. Like I didn’t know the pain I was feeling that it was something more then being pregnant. Well after I had him I felt sooooo much better. But it still hurt a lot but not as bad. I even tried to go back to work when he was 3 weeks old, and still I thought the pain I was having was because I was on my back for 9 months. Well to make this short, it got soo bad I would cry at work, and when I came home and all night long. Well it was so hard to do anything even here at home, I knew then that this was getting worse, and I had to stop work and get help for my pains. Well I didn’t have ins. after my son was to months, and I wasn’t working any more, so the only place left was the ER. And we all know that is the wrong place to go, because they tell you to take these pilss and see your own dr. and you can go back to work in a day or two.Yea right, I have been in pain for15 months and that is still all they can say. WellI have ins. now and getting help, X-rays show up that there wasn’t anything wrong with me,then I had a MRI and that showed up that I had L5 S1 bulging disk, and tears in my back. The dr. still tell me that I can take these med.s and go back to work, who are they to tell us that our pain should be gone and we can go back to our daily things that we use to do, My back pain has takin so much from me. I have been on soooo many kinds of med.s I don’t even know the names of them, I just take them, and nothing works. I had a epidarul shot on Dec.31st, and it was feeling so much better, but after day 2 it was getting worse again, And still the dr. said I can go back to work. I filed for disability back in Feb, 2003, I’ve been truned down twice because the dr.s that I’ve seen once or twice said I should be able to go back to work, I started my phyical therapy last week. I felt better but still pain in my neck, Hey “I guess I am a pain in the neck” Sorry thought that was funny, but I guess I am from time to time because I’ve got the dr.’s to say I am fine when I know I’am not.I was a sub contractor, I was a drywall finisher for 20 years, made really good money, and really loved my job. Now I am behind on my bills, and have a hard time just here in my own home, had to stop breastfeedind my baby, because of allthe pain I feel. Someone would have to be so stupid to fake that there in pain and stop that kind of money in. I could work one week and pay all my bills off. But once again I can’t.Now I am having really bad pain in my knee when I squat donw, and if I move my head around, I feel pain in one spot in my neck. Can anyone tell me what that could be from. So sorry to of gone on and on, thanks for taking time to read this. God bless you all take care.P.S.Can anyone relate to these things that I do, please tell me so, so I don’t feel so a lone, or crazy… thanks Again Victoria

  19. I have the same thing. Have you seen a chiropractor? Like me it could be rib dysfunction…that is a rib has “popped” out of place. Had one rib manipulated back 3 times before it finally stayed put. Now 2 days later another rib on my left side has been put back for the first time. The pain is unbearable until he puts it back, then subsides dramatically within hours.

  20. I have had this pain on and off for a few months now. It has been happening more frequently lately and lasts longer and longer. sometimes the pain is unbearable. However, I just checked out the link below at myopoint and I am amazed at what I discovered. I suggest anyone with these symptoms give it a try. Thanks TimLaurie : Try this site I found:myopoint. Seems like some good info to get started.: Good luck: Tim.

  21. Have been experiencing pain near left shoulder blade in that triangular muscle region. I can feel it is very taut been told it is calcified and am wondering what it is and what I can do. Feel it has been brought on by doing computer work without a break as I am a student.

  22. I have been having this same sort of thing for 2 years now. I had shoulder surgery 3 years ago and wonder if it has any connection. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.ThanksMike

  23. I have the same exact thing your talking about and have been suffering with it for about 4 weeks now. My doctor doesn’t seem to know what is the matter with me. I am going to get a hidascan done on my gallbladder. I had a sonogram done and it showed normal. The hidascan is for function.