Back problems are a complicated matter with a wide variety of causes and solutions. Particularly, upper back pain between the shoulder blades can be caused by many problems, including simple muscle strain, digestive issues, heart disease, and lung problems. If you know specifically what caused your upper back pain (overexertion from working out, for example), all that’s necessary is to rest until that pain has improved. You can also take over-the-counter medications to alleviate the pain. However, if it is persistent or you cannot pinpoint any particular incident that might have caused the pain, then contact a doctor.
Most of the time, improper posture is the culprit behind back pain, and unfortunately, it can become worse with age. If the pain is affecting your quality of life or your ability to sleep, walk, sit, or stand comfortably, ask your doctor of any possible therapies. Physical therapy helps many back pain sufferers by demonstrating proper posture and exercises that can help restore an even weight distribution in the back.
Yet another complaint linked to pain between the shoulder blades is pain while swallowing. This feeling is usually described as a burning sensation rather than an uncomfortable tightening sensation caused by muscle strain. When this occurs, doctors usually determine that the problem originates from the digestive system. GERD (gastroesophogeal reflux disease) and gallstones are common culprits for pain between the shoulder blades.
If your doctor suspects GERD, he or she will likely order an endoscopy to look into the digestive tract. If the problem is not found there, you might need an ultrasound to detect gallstones, which are crystalline growths in the gallbladder. Though the gallbladder is located in the lower abdomen below the liver, the pain caused by gallstones can radiate as high as the shoulders. Gallstone removal usually involves the removal of the gallbladder entirely. When gallstones are present, other symptoms might include nausea and vomiting, fever, and stomach pain after eating fatty or spicy foods.
Sometimes upper back pain is accompanied by pain in the front. People with heart problems can suffer pain in the chest and in the upper back. Angina, for example, occurs with poor flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. It can cause a tightening feeling throughout the chest area, and sometimes it radiates to the arms, shoulders, or back. Doctors advise that chest pain always warrants a visit to the emergency room.
In some people, lung problems can cause upper back pain between the shoulder blades. Pneumonia or severe cases of bronchitis can cause sharp pain, especially when deep breaths are taken.
As demonstrated in the above examples, pain and problems in different areas in the body can trigger pain between the shoulder blades. For this reason, it is always advised that you seek medical help if your pain doesn’t improve within a few days or if it occurs suddenly and violently without any obvious reason. Usually, the symptoms that go with this kind of back pain can give you an idea of what the problem might be before you see a doctor. Because some of these problems can be life threatening, back pain should never be ignored.