Some people find relief from shoulder blade pain with therapies performed at home.
Physical activity is important for overall health, but exercise can also strengthen areas in your back, which may help with pain. Pushups, pullups, and situps are good exercises to strengthen muscles in your back and abdomen.
Yoga and other stretching techniques can improve circulation to your muscles and joints, which may offer better mobility Trusted Source and pain relief.
This shoulder stretch sometimes helps:
- Cross one arm over your body.
- Use your other arm to pull the elbow of your outstretched arm toward your chest.
- Hold this stretch for about 10 seconds.
Ask your doctor about other stretches that may lessen your pain.
Certain foods can cause Trusted Source inflammation in your body that could worsen your symptoms. Avoid processed foods, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Choosing foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, may also help.
Sometimes, you just need rest to recover from your shoulder blade pain, especially if it’s the result of an injury.
Hot or cold therapy
Applying hot and cold compresses between your shoulder blades may relieve discomfort. Typically, it’s best to use them for 15 minutes at a time, every four hours.
Massage or physical therapy may provide relief in many cases, especially if the pain is caused by overuse of your muscles or joints, or an injury.
A massage therapist can work on areas between your shoulder blades to relax muscle tissue. You can also purchase handheld massage devices to use at home.
Physical or occupational therapy
If you have an injury or a compressed nerve, your doctor might recommend physical or occupational therapy. A therapist will help you perform certain exercises that may improve symptoms.
Certain medications can help relieve pain and discomfort between your shoulder blades. These may include anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB). Sometimes, steroids are given as a pill or injection to help with pain and inflammation. Muscle relaxers and even antidepressants are also prescribed for certain conditions involving the shoulder blades.
Although rare, your doctor might recommend surgery if your shoulder blade pain is severe or caused by a treatable injury. This may involve removing scar tissue or repairing tendons in your shoulder or upper back area. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, however, 90 percent of people with shoulder blade pain will respond to nonsurgical options, such as rest, exercise, and medication.
Your outlook will depend on what’s causing your shoulder blade pain and the severity of your condition.
Most of the time, pain between the shoulder blades is a temporary ailment that will go away with rest and proper treatment. However, the discomfort may be a lifelong problem for some people.
Tips for prevention
The following measures can help prevent shoulder blade pain:
- Practice good posture. Try to stand and sit tall, and avoid slouching. You may want to purchase an ergonomic chair or a special pillow to help with spinal and neck alignment.
- Don’t lift heavy items. Heavy lifting can lead to injuries, which could trigger pain between your shoulder blades. Avoid carrying heavy bags on one shoulder. If you do have to lift something, be sure to bend your knees and try not to put too much pressure on your back.
- Don’t sit for too long. Get up and stretch frequently when you’re working at a computer or desk. This can help keep muscles loose. You can also try using a standing desk. There are many options available on Amazon.
- Adopt healthy habits. Be sure to eat whole foods, get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, and exercise at least three days a week. A healthy lifestyle can help you feel more energetic and rested, which can help you manage pain.