What Causes Pain Between the Shoulder Blades?

Understanding the source of pain is key to treating the underlying cause of discomfort. For example, interscapular pain, or pain occurring between the shoulder blades, is common but has many causes. Therefore, identifying the causes of pain between the shoulder blades is essential to quick and effective treatment.

Common Causes Of Pain Between The Shoulder Blades


Trauma is the most obvious reason for pain between the shoulder blades. If you have suffered a  direct blow that hit your shoulders, back, arms, or chest, it will likely result in sharp pain in your shoulder blades. When the body has experienced physical trauma, pain is the warning sign that something is wrong. Bodily trauma that results in pain between the shoulder blades can include a wide variety of causes that vary in levels of severity. Here are some common causes of trauma that would typically result in pain between the shoulder blades:

  • Falls from any height
  • Car accidents
  • Sports Injury
  • Incorrectly exercising
Muscle Strain

Muscle strain is one of the most common and easily treated causes of sharp pain between the shoulder blades. Strains can occur in the muscle tissue and tendons. Causes of muscle strain can include:

  • Bad posture
  • Lifting heavy objects incorrectly
  • Staying in one position for too long
  • Overexertion
  • Sleeping on your side or an unsupportive mattress

Bulging or Herniated Disk

A bulging or herniated disk in the spine is called degenerative disc disease and can result in severe pain that typically radiates down the arms but can also cause pain between the shoulder blades and at the base of the neck. Additional symptoms of degenerative disk disease are numbness, weakness, or tingling in the extremities.

Nerve Compression

A pinched nerve, otherwise known as nerve compression, can cause sharp pain between the shoulder blades, in the upper back, and along the spine. Nerve Compression pain can be severe and is made worse by bending or twisting. A pinched nerve can happen anywhere in the body but is especially common along the spinal cord and neck.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is an unexpected cause of sharp pain between the shoulders. Chronic acid reflux, or GERD, isn’t typically associated with upper back pain. It occurs when the base of the esophagus becomes too relaxed, allowing stomach acid to enter the esophagus. The best way to combat the pain of GERD is by seeing your primary care doctor. GERD also has many underlying causes and should be treated by a physician.

Are You Experiencing Pain Between Your Shoulder Blades?

You need to see your physician if you’re experiencing recurring, severe, or unexplainable pain between your shoulder blades. While many causes of interscapular pain are benign, your doctor needs to determine the cause ASAP.  There are more serious issues that result in throbbing, intense, and sharp pain between your shoulders that need to be ruled out. If you are worried about your pain, you can contact our team HERE for a consultation on the cause of your pain.

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