Pain between the shoulder blades, also known as interscapular pain, can be an inconvenience that interferes with your daily life. It can make everyday tasks, such as sitting in a chair, working at your desk, or even walking short distances difficult. There are many causes behind this upper back pain, some of which may even signal a serious medical condition.

In this article, we will talk about some of the causes of upper back pain between the shoulder blades. Next, we will talk about what you should do for treatment and when you should see a doctor or pain management specialist.

Muscles In The Upper Back

Having a basic knowledge of the muscles in the upper back can help you define and understand your pain better.

Your upper back supports a lot of the weight of your body, allowing you to sit upright, stand up straight, cough, breathe, and perform a variety of movements. Your back muscles work in harmony to allow you to twist, bend over, reach over and turn your head, among many other movements you perform every day. However, there are many layers of muscle groups in your back. A simple categorization of them is as follows:

  • Superficial muscles. These muscles are located closer to the surface, and you may be familiar with some of their names. These include the lats (latissimus dorsi), the traps (trapezius), rhomboids, and levator scapulae, responsible for controlling your shoulders and arms.
  • Intermediate muscles. These are located deeper down and between your shoulder blades, helping your ribcage expand and contract as you breathe.
  • Intrinsic muscles. These are core muscles that live on either side of your spine, helping you maintain your posture and stabilize your spine. They play a role in essential movements such as rotating, flexing, and extending your back.

Causes of Pain Between Shoulder Blades

The most common cause of pain between the shoulder blades is muscle strain, also known as a pulled muscle. You could have pulled a muscle from engaging in strenuous activity, such as lifting heavy objects or playing a sport. Having poor posture at your desk or while standing for long periods can also cause muscle strain.

However, you can also experience pain due to trauma from injuries, such as a fall or accident. Trauma can also affect the nerves that run through your shoulders, causing symptoms such as numbness, pain, or tingling in your arms.

Finally, evidence suggests that heart attacks in women may result in pain between the shoulder blades rather than in the chest area (a symptom more common in men.) If you encounter a dull ache in between your shoulder blades accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness, or lightheadedness, you should go to the emergency room as soon as possible.


While these are some of the most common causes of pain between the shoulder blades, various other reasons can be diagnosed by a qualified healthcare professional. That’s why it’s best to visit a doctor to determine the actual cause and begin proper treatment.

At Genesis Pain Clinic, we’re proud to be practitioners of the highest standard of interventional pain management. We offer diagnostic testing and regenerative medicine with the mission to allow all our patients to live healthy, pain-free lives. Please call us if you have any questions at (913) 871-9888.

We look forward to helping you.

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