Health knowledge and news provided by doctors.

Reasons Behind Shoulder Pain

Armen Hareyan's picture

Pain between the shoulder blades, or any pain for that matter, is your body's way of notifying you that something is amiss. You should never ignore it and hope it will "go away by itself".


Pain between the shoulder blades, or any pain for that matter, is your body's way of notifying you that something is amiss. You should never ignore it and hope it will "go away by itself".

There are a multitude of possible causes of pain between the shoulder blades. We'll discuss common ones in this article and start with the most serious conditions first:

Heart Attack

Although the one of the classic signs of an impending or actual heart attack in males is pain in the shoulders, females frequently report pain between the shoulder blades instead.

If you are experiencing pain between the shoulder blades, combined with any of these symptoms, call your Doctor or 911 immediately! Your life may be in danger.

- Squeezing chest pain or pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Sweating
- Tightness in chest
- Recurring chest discomfort
- Pain spreading to shoulders, neck or arms
- Indigestion or gas-like pain
- Dizziness, nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weakness, fatigue
- Discomfort/pain between shoulder blades
- Sense of impending doom

Gallbladder Disease / Gallstones

Although Gallbladder pain is commonly felt the right upper abdomen. It can also manifest itself as pain between shoulder blades or under the right shoulder blade.

Usually sudden and severe, the pain can last from 15 minutes to several hours. In severe instances, the pain may be accompanied by vomiting or sweating. Once the attack passes, it may not reoccur for a period of days, weeks, months, or even years. Whether it appears as pain between the shoulder blades, or in any of the more common areas, it is most likely to start after a meal that is high in fat.

SLIDESHOW: Work-Related Factors Effecting Shoulder Pain

The main treatment of gallbladder disease is to remove the gallbladder with a procedure called a laparoscopy cholecystectomy. This is the most popular way to remove the gallbladder because there is less post surgery pain, and it results in a shorter hospital stay.

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer, an abnormal cell growth in the liver, comes in two types:

Follow eMaxHealth on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Please, click to subscribe to our Youtube Channel to be notified about upcoming health and food tips.

Primary cancer means that the cancer started in the liver. Or the liver occurs when the cancer starts in the liver.

Secondary cancer of the liver occurs when a cancer starts someplace else and spreads to the liver.

These early warning signs of Liver Cancer:

- A hard lump in the belly, below the rib cage on the right side.
- Discomfort in the upper belly on the right side.
- Pain around the right shoulder blade, or pain between the shoulder blades.
- Yellowish skin color (jaundice)
- Abdominal swelling causing a feeling of fullness

Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer appears as tumors, or an abnormal growth of cells in the esophagus. The esophagus is the food passageway that connects the throat to the stomach.

Esophageal cancer usually does not display any symptoms until the cancer has advanced to a stage that is too late for a cure. The main symptom is difficulty in swallowing food. There is a frequent sensation of food getting stuck in the throat or chest.

Signs of advanced Esophageal cancer include:

- Pain when swallowing.
- Pain in the throat or back, behind the breastbone or pain between the shoulder blades.
- Decreased appetite and weight loss.
- Hiccups with the feeling of food getting stuck in your throat or chest.
- Vomiting and coughing up blood.

Less Scary Stuff

Of course, pain between the shoulder blade could just be the result of a muscle strain from too much time hunched over the computer's keyboard, stress, the way that you are sleeping at night, or other muscle injury caused by sports, exercise, normal aches and pains, or even a bra being worn to tightly.

If you are experiencing pain between the shoulder blades, don't lookup the worst case scenario and jump to conclusions. Look for additional supporting symptoms as well. Read: How To Treat Shoulder Pain As Well As Neck and Back Pain.

No matter what symptoms you have, consult your Doctor if you have even the slightest concern that something may be wrong.


Jessica Horowitz is a writer on health topics at Medical Supplies Services.
Jessica Horowitz Copyright 2004
This page is updated on May 11, 2013.



I had pain in my shoulders so i massage it and it became worst. I tried doing circular movements to contradict the pain. Applied some creams but it became worst so i tried using a warm steamer and it worked so i did it almost every night for a week. The pain worse and it reached below my breasts and when i lift my hand it is too painful...i just keep on massaging it until it is better... The pain is still there specially if i reached something at my back...this bearable so i stop doing things on it....the more you touch it the more the pain.
i had this sort of pain and at first i have been diagnosed with shoulder instability and nou with thoracic oulet sindrom,just had my second op,try and go for an MRI ,and ultrasound for yr arms ans shoulder blade,or it can bee a reapt ligament that weken the muscles as they became very week in time,I also got stenosis (block arteris)along with my TOS,or blook veins,can be anithing ,took me 6 years and half to finde the right dyagnosis and still i am not confident!!!
Theres pain in my shoulder and upper arm. Aswell when i go to lift the arm the pain get 10x worse in both areas. I didn't hurt myself that i know of. This is the left shoulder and arm. Any idea what this could be?
Suspicious for a rotator cuff inury http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rotator-cuff-injury/ds00192/dsection=symptoms
.Be careful of chiropractors. They haven`t helped me.
Uggghhhhh.. The worst pain ever. Everyday I wake up with little pain. But as the day goes on and with the more physical activity the day brings .. the pain under both my shoulder blades and between them is unreal. It feels like a burning aching type -as if I just shoveled a huge pile of mulch all day long. It takes nearly nothing to start up. I'm 21. 6'5 .. 200. Smoked from 16-20. Had a slight buldged disk in my lumbar spine. I believe the last one before my ass. The only thing that makes it better is lying on my back. I sleep on my side but changing that has been a hard task. Anyone with any similar problems ... What Can I do??? I wanna live my 20's!!!!
I have burning pain in my shoulder blades and starts ok in the morning and deteriorates as the day goes on. I was told recently the cause is pinched nerves in the neck and it radiates pain in the shoulder blades. The pinched nerve is from cervical spondylosis and stenosis which is the cause of my pinched nerves. I was run over by a out of control car crossing the street. The trauma has bought this on and now surgery is looking very likely if the pain does not settle which it is not. Feel like this is not fare at my age.
Hey, i am 24, i apparently have shoulder impingement. i've been waiting a long time for a decision on this (13 months ago i visited GP about painful right shoulder). i am researching tonight to try to find some answers as to why nothing thats been thrown at me is working!
maybe your diet is poor i too have these pains . poor diet can cause liver problems .that cause sore shoulders.
Interesting that you didn't mention a very important and common cause of shoulder blade pain: issues with the cervical spine, be they lack of lordosis, spine osteoarthritis, degenerative disk disease, osteophytes, anterolysthesis, etc. Anything that can cause the nerves to get "pinched" and can result in pain in that area, shoulderblade, between shoulderblades, radiating into the shoulder, radiation down the arm.
Hay guys. I'm 21 I smoke and don't drink. I have pain that feels like muscles pulling between my shoulder blades and under arms and ribs. I also have a pain where my ribs end under on the right side. My neck at the spine also hurts. And clicking sound when i open my mouth. Dont know if its related and the neck pain goes to the end of my skull. I also have dis weird feeling between my boobs and above like im over full or like muscles pulling and my hand and arm feel like when you sit on your legs and gos numb but not completely sometimes. I also am biting on my teeth regularly and have this knot feeling in throat. And sometimes I have shortness of breath. And some of these start when I iron or work with my arms and when I lie down it goes away except for back pain and knot feeling or feeling of muscles pulling In my neck. Thank u
I'm only 26 and I have reoccurring pain in my left shoulder blade. My boyfriend tries to massage it out and we usually find a couple of knots but this pain intensifies with a normal breath in or out. The pain immobilizes me at times. I can't turn my head or anything. It comes out of nowhere. I'm in the military and the doctors on base don't take anything serious. I'm so tired of this agonizing pain. I normally just let the pain subside in a couple of days but I'm pregnant this time and more concerned for my baby. Help!
I got a pain in my back between my shoulder blades that moved to my upper stomach below my breast bones, right in the center, it hurt so bad I could barely stand and it took my breath away. There wasn't any other symptons and it went away within 10 or 15 min but this has happened to me about 5 times in 3 months.. Any ideas? I have a hernia on my left side that was fixed once and reappeared. It worries me a lot. Every once in awhile I'll feel sick and vomit but there's no pain during this. All of this has been happening in the past 3 mo. or so
I have pain in the uppar back for last one and half year . I was also having pain on the right side of stomach . Ultrasound abdomen is normal LET is normal CECT is normal Kidney function is normal.but pain does not go. I do regular brisk walk.please suggest treatment .thank you .
After suffering from horrific pain in between my shoulder blades, the worse pain I have ever felt, I saw a gastrointestinal doctor, I was non visual on the pipida test and had surgery 3 days later to remove a diseased gallbladder that was in 2014, since the surgery I still have occasional attacks, between the shoulder blades and dead Center between my breasts, the pain is beyond a 10 and lasts anywhere up to 2 hours, my doctor says this is not abnormal, since surgery there are alot of foods that I just can't tolerate anymore. Going to have a endoscope done soon just to make sure nothing else is going on. I hope everyone suffering from this gets relief because it's horrible. I do find that taking a long stick.. and patting your back from the bottom up, like burping a baby does help.
I started having this dull aching pains deep inside my upper back on my right side like five years ago, it gradually escalated to this persistent soreness and ever present pains coming from deep inside my back. The pain area has gotten fatter than my other side. The pain has spread to my rib cage, inside Armpit, big toe, feet and under my shoulder opposite same pain spot on the back. There is this tenderness and soreness under my shoulder where my right shoulder and right breast meet. When I pull the skin, I feel some jelly like little roundness move across so fast There is this This pain is never off. It is always there. It causes headaches sometimes. Recently, I am begining to have blurry visions and flashes. I can't concentrate or focus on other things. This pain has affected my Life. My Husband massages my back for some relief. I fall asleep only after massage, and I wake up with the same pains. I have difficulty breathing too. Does anyone have such pains?.
I'm 35, had gallbladder remover in 2010. Have a cysts on my kidney but all "liquid" filled. I have constant kidney pains that radiate from my back to my abdomen. I also get shock-like pain between my shoulder blades. I haven't had a real period since 2006 due to PCOS and drs won't do anything here in Maine because its a fertility issue...my only choice is deal with it or get a hysterectomy... And I have no kids :-( I don't know what these kidney and scapulae pains are but they last for days/ weeks....any ideas????
I have had problems 28th pain recently. I an 30 years old I've had my gallbladder removed but a few days ago. I was at work my chest started to hurt and it raidiated to my shoulder on my right side up my neck and it felt like my while right side was hurting. I had gotten mad and frustrated and the pain then started. It but again yesterday. I can't figure it out.