Get the Most Trusted Services for Physiotherapy Winnipeg
Pain Under your shoulder blade

7 Causes of Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade

Have you ever experienced pain under your shoulder blade? This discomfort has become increasingly common as working from home has become more popular. Many find themselves working in prolonged positions and postures which has led to a rise in upper back pain, particularly under the shoulder blade.

While this type of pain is frequently due to strained upper back muscles, there are several other potential causes. To effectively treat this pain, it’s crucial to understand what’s causing it.  

Let’s look at 7 potential reasons behind shoulder blade pain and how physiotherapy treatment can help.

  1. Poor Posture

Maintaining improper body stature for extended periods can lead to structural changes in your spine, resulting in pain beneath the shoulder blade. Slouching, looking downward, or sitting unevenly—common habits while working at a desk or browsing on a smartphone—can weaken your muscles and put undue pressure on spinal discs, muscles, and ligaments. Over time, this imbalance can cause discomfort in the upper back.

  1. Improper Lifting Technique

Incorrect lifting mechanics while lifting objects above your head can predispose your upper back and shoulders to injury. Lifting something too heavy or holding it away from your body can put excessive pressure on your upper back. Overhead lifting of heavy objects can strain muscles, sprain ligaments, or even injure the shoulder joint or spine, leading to pain under or near the shoulder blade.

  1. Overuse

Activities like painting a ceiling, moving furniture with a friend, or playing in a softball league can exert extra strain on your upper back and shoulders. This overuse can result in muscle strains and ligament sprains, leading to pain in the upper back, particularly between the shoulder blade and spine. Scapulothoracic bursitis, commonly named snapping scapula syndrome, is another condition that can occur. In this case, there is inflammation in the bursa, which is located between the shoulder blade and thoracic spine. 

  1. Cervical Herniated Disc

When the outer layer (annulus fibrosus) of a disc in the cervical spine (neck) tears, it leads to a cervical disc herniation. This causes the inner material (nucleus pulposus) to protrude outward. The resulting condition can trigger pain that may radiate into the shoulder, arm, or hand due to inflammation of an adjacent nerve root. Herniations in the lower part of the cervical spine are more prone to causing pain around the shoulder blade area. Although less common, a herniated disc in the thoracic spine (upper back) can also lead to pain near the shoulder blade.

5. Dislocated Rib

Although not as common, a rib can become dislocated or misaligned due to repetitive strain or when reaching for something overhead. This can lead to sharp pain near the shoulder blade, and in some cases, it may even make taking a deep breath challenging. Ignoring the issue can lead to further complications, so it’s important to seek treatment from a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

6. Heart Condition

Certain cardiac conditions can manifest as pain in the shoulder blade area. Aortic dissection, a critical and potentially fatal condition, involves a tear in the heart’s largest artery and can result in intense pain that radiates under or near the left shoulder blade. Additionally, heart attacks can sometimes cause pain in the upper back and shoulder, particularly in women. It’s crucial to recognize these symptoms as potential signs of a heart condition and seek immediate medical attention to prevent severe complications. Early intervention can be life-saving in these cases.

7. Compression Fracture

This occurs when a vertebra, usually in the upper back, becomes weakened and collapses, leading to back pain that often improves with rest or is tender to the touch. These fractures are primarily caused by osteoporosis in older adults. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent further deterioration and manage pain effectively. It’s essential for individuals at risk of osteoporosis to maintain bone health through proper nutrition and regular exercise.

How to Relieve Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade?

Get Proper Rest

Taking short breaks from prolonged postures that cause pain can help in reducing the strain on the muscles of the upper back. Sometimes, taking a day off can ease the inflammation of muscles under the shoulder blade.

Correct Your Posture

Improve your posture by making ergonomic (work set-up) changes that help your muscles work more efficiently, reducing strain. Small adjustments to your work and home environments can significantly reduce postural strain.

Support Your Back

Using back supports can help prop you up and maintain correct posture, reducing strain on your upper back. These supports not only align your spine but also provide feedback to your brain, reinforcing proper posture.

Apply a Hot or Cold Pack

Applying a hot or cold pack can temporarily alleviate pain and inflammation from muscle strain in the upper back. Use the pack for at least ten minutes, two to three times a day, to help relieve discomfort and promote healing.

Stretching Exercises

To alleviate tension and enhance flexibility in your upper back, consider integrating basic stretches into your daily routine. These simple exercises can prevent muscle strain and promote overall upper back health, ensuring a more comfortable and active lifestyle.

Seek Physiotherapy Treatment

Consulting with a physiotherapist is another effective approach to help alleviate discomfort. Get in touch with a physiotherapist and address your pain promptly to prevent further complications and ensure a swift recovery.


In conclusion, pain under the shoulder blade can be caused by various factors, including poor posture, improper lifting techniques, overuse, and underlying medical conditions. It’s essential to seek medical attention if you experience persistent or severe pain, especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or fever.
At Bridgwater Physiotherapy in Winnipeg, Manitoba, our certified physiotherapists provide comprehensive physical therapy services to address a wide range of musculoskeletal issues, including shoulder pain. We offer personalized physiotherapy treatment plans tailored to your specific needs, aimed at relieving pain and restoring function. If you’re struggling with pain under your shoulder blade, don’t hesitate to contact us for a thorough assessment and effective treatment options.