What is that pain between your shoulder blades?

March 27, 2023
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Author: Katie Kelly


What is that pain between your shoulder blades?

Did you know that the nagging, aching pain that you sometimes get between your shoulder blades or on top of your shoulder may not be caused by muscle? Stuck or fixated ribs are more common than you may realize, and they can cause mild to severe pain and dysfunction if they aren’t addressed properly.

Our ribs are designed to expand and contract with our breath, but sometimes that movement becomes compromised causing pain in the intercostal nerves and surrounding muscles. The most common causes of stuck ribs that we see in the clinic, are stress, improper breathing, and poor posture. When we are stressed and when we slouch with a forward head and shoulder position,  we tend to breathe more shallow or have moments where we hold our breath all together. To breathe properly we must engage in deep belly or diaphragmatic breathing. This will keep the ribs and the muscles surrounding them, moving and pliable.

How do you know if your pain is caused by ribs and is not just a muscle spasm? It may seem counterintuitive, but massage can actually aggravate stuck ribs. Whether you perform self massage at home or receive massage from a professional, if you experience more pain following treatment then it’s time to see your chiropractor. Also, if there is increased pain or no improvement after stretching or using a tool for relief, then go ahead and book that appointment.

Fixated rib pain can be very persistent, but can respond very well to a chiropractic adjustment.  Relief can be felt immediately, or it may take a few treatments to get the nerves and muscles to calm down. Managing our stress, practicing proper breathing, and addressing our poor posture are all steps to take toward preventing recurring rib fixations.

If you find yourself feeling “stuck”, don’t hesitate to come on in and see us.