The shoulder blades (AKA scapulas) are a common culprit in shoulder pain complaints.
The muscles of the mid-back
This mid back region houses many different structures that could cause your symptoms! The first being the muscles that pull the shoulder blades together - this includes your rhomboids and your mid- and lower trapezius muscles. Another muscle that is small but can refer pain into this area and up into the neck are your upper trapezius and levator scapula muscles.
Dysfunction in shoulder blade muscles
These muscles can get overworked, and develop trigger points that can cause pain in between the shoulder blades, and even up the neck! Trust me from experience, this is no fun, especially when you are trying to weight lift and get greeted by a stabbing pain in the back.
Other areas to consider: the thoracic spine
Another area to evaluate is your thoracic spine, which can become too mobile in some areas, and super stiff in others! This usually happens from your daily positioning and activities that may place too much stress on certain areas, and limit motion in others.
The thoracic spine is responsible for most of your trunk’s rotation. Believe it or not, your T-spine is used every time you reach your arm up overhead! If this area isn’t functioning properly, you can feel it in the muscles between the shoulder blades, or even in your neck or lower back.
Other areas to consider: the costovertebral (rib) joint
The last area that may be causing your discomfort and is usually overlooked is your ribs! Your ribs have amazing flexibility and attach to the cartilage in the front of your chest, and to your thoracic spine in your back. This allows you to fill your lungs full with air, while allowing the flexibility to perform a variety of movements.
Sometimes, however, the joints in the back can become stuck due to tight muscles or posture. This can contribute to pain in between the shoulder blade area.
Physical therapy for pain between the shoulder blades
A skilled physical therapist can perform an evaluation to figure out which joints need protecting (strengthening) or need mobility. They can also help you figure out the true cause behind this complex web of symptoms. Remember, knowledge IS power!