Shoulder pain when swallowing

American National University

There are many causes of pain in the shoulder blades. Pain between the shoulder blades may occur as a result of secular issues, such as working at the computer too long without a break. Some reasons are serious and must be addressed immediately.

Here are some of them:

Gallbladder Pain

Sporadic pains in the middle of the upper abdomen, or just below the ribs on the right are perceived. The pain may be on your right shoulder or between the shoulder blades. The painmay be accompanied by nausea and vomiting and sometimes excessive gas. The attack can be from several minutes up to two to three hours before getting better. The frequency and severity of attacks is highly variable. Attacks can be triggered by eating fatty foods such as chocolate, cheese or pastry. It can be difficult to distinguish the pain from other diseases, such as: gastric ulcer, back pain, chest pain, pneumonia and kidney stones.

Neck source of arthritis or discDisease

This is a general pain in the neck area is located and can be accompanied with stiffness in the neck muscles. The pain radiates to the shoulder or between the shoulder blades. It may also radiate to the arm, hand, or up in the head, so that a unilateral or bilateral headache. The muscles in the neck are tense, sore and feel hard to the touch. Acute pain may be at abnormal neck posture in which the head is forced to give up the one side, turn, this condition is known,such as torticollis.
The pain at the base of the skull may be accompanied by a feeling of weakness in the shoulders and arms. It can be a prickly or tingling in the arms and fingers.


Angina pectoris is derived from Latin and translates as “tightness in the chest. It feels like a heavy, crushing pain or a constricting feeling in the middle of the chest behind the breastbone (sternum) or on the left side of his chest. The pain may radiate eitherone or both arms, more often on the left. It may in the neck, jaw, stomach and experienced, more rarely, between the shoulder blades.

Angina is often caused by:

• Physical Activity

• psychological distress

• extreme cold

• a heavy meal.

Once these trigger factors stop, the pain usually ends very quickly, usually within 2 to 10 minutes.

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer, an abnormal growth of cells in the liver shows twoWays:

• Primary cancer means the cancer started in the liver

• Secondary liver cancer occurs when a cancer starts out somewhere else and spreads to the liver.

The first signs of liver cancer:

A hardening of the abdomen, below the rib cage on the right side.

Discomfort in the upper abdomen on the right side.

Pain around the right shoulder blade, or pain between the shoulder blades.

Yellowish skin color(Jaundice)

Abdominal swelling causing a feeling of fullness

Esophageal cancer

Esophageal cancer appears as a tumor or abnormal growth of cells in the esophagus. The esophagus is the food passageway that connects the throat to the stomach.

Esophageal cancer usually causes no symptoms until the cancer has progressed to a stage that is too late for effective treatment. The main symptom is difficulty swallowing food. It is a common feeling of foodto get stuck in the throat or chest.

Signs of advanced esophageal cancer include:

Pain on swallowing.

Pain in the neck or back, behind the breastbone or pain between the shoulder blades.

Appetite and weight loss.

Hiccups with the feeling of food stuck forever in the neck or chest.

Vomiting and coughing up blood.

Aortic dissection

If the aorta, the main artery that can my heart, tears, a sudden andPain in the spine between the shoulder blades. This is an obvious surgical emergency.

Esophageal Cancer Care

Esophageal cancer is a malignancy that begins in the lining of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) have increased risk for developing cancer of the esophagus because of the continued reflux of acids into the esophagus.

At Advocate Health Care, we know that prevention and early detection lead to the best patient outcomes. We’re committed to providing the latest cancer screenings to help you stay proactive about your health. We also offer some of the most advanced treatment techniques available, including minimally invasive endoscopic surgery for less pain, fewer complications and faster recovery.

→ Find an Advocate Cancer Institute near you.

Symptoms & Risk Factors

People with esophageal cancer for often experience difficulty swallowing, pain in the throat, back pain between the shoulder blades, chronic cough, hoarseness, vomiting or unexplained weight loss. Men over 60 are at greater risk than women of developing esophageal cancer, but gender and age are not the only risk factors. Long-term heavy alcohol usage, frequent tobacco exposure and preexisting conditions like Barrett’s esophagus or dysplasia can all increase a person’s risk for esophageal cancer.

Detection & Diagnosis

Physicians at Advocate Health Care use a number of tests to screen people at high risk or those suspected of having esophageal cancer. These include:

  • Esophagram: A series of X-rays of the esophagus
  • Endoscopy (esophagoscopy): A thin, lighted tube that enables the doctor to see inside the esophagus
  • Bronchoscopy: A thin scope is inserted through the nose or mouth so the physician can see inside the esophagus.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (endosonography): An advanced procedure that can find tumors less than 1 cm
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (also called EGD or upper endoscopy): Allows your physician to examine the inside of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum using an endoscope and remove tissue samples for biopsy
  • Computed tomography (CT or CAT scan): Produces cross-sectional images of organs, bones, muscle and other tissue
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan: Assesses metabolic activity within organs or tissue and can be used to detect cancer
  • Tissue biopsy: A small sample of tissue is taken and analyzed to confirm whether it is malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous).

Treatments & Therapies

If you’re diagnosed with esophageal cancer, rest assured you have some of Illinois’ best experts by your side. Together, our multi-skilled team will work closely with you to create a personal cancer treatment plan, which may include the latest surgical, medical and radiation therapies to destroy cancer cells.

Support for Every Step

We’re committed to caring for the whole you and providing the resources you and your loved ones need to manage a cancer diagnosis. You’ll find a full range of free or low-cost cancer support services – from education to rehabilitation, nutritional to spiritual counseling, support groups and more empowering programs.

Summit Medical Group Web Site

What is a rhomboid strain or spasm?

The rhomboid muscles in your upper back connect the inner edges of your shoulder blades to your spine. A rhomboid strain is a stretch or tear of these muscles. A rhomboid spasm is a sudden tightening of the muscle that you cannot control.

What is the cause?

A rhomboid muscle strain or spasm is usually caused by overuse of your shoulder and arm. This can happen from:

  • Overhead activities, like serving a tennis ball or reaching to put objects on a high shelf
  • Rowing
  • Carrying a heavy backpack, especially if you carry it over just one shoulder
  • Poor posture, especially while you are using a computer for a long time

What are the symptoms?

A strain causes pain in the upper back between your shoulder blade and your spine. A spasm feels like a knot or tightness in the muscle. You may have pain when you move your shoulders or when you breathe.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, activities, and medical history and examine you.

How is it treated?

You will need to change or stop doing the activities that cause pain until your muscles have healed. For example, you may need to run or ride a bicycle instead of playing tennis or rowing.

Your healthcare provider may recommend stretching and strengthening exercises and other types of physical therapy to help you heal.

A mild rhomboid strain may heal within a few weeks, but a severe injury may take 6 weeks or longer.

How can I help take care of myself?

To help relieve swelling and pain:

  • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth on the injured area every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time. You can lie down with your upper back against the ice.
  • Take pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or other medicine as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.

Put moist heat on your back for up to 20 minutes at a time to help relax tight muscles or muscle spasms. Moist heat includes heat patches or moist heating pads that you can purchase at most drugstores, a wet washcloth or towel that has been heated in the dryer, or a hot shower. Don’t use heat if you have swelling.

Do the exercises recommended by your healthcare provider. Massage is also very helpful. Here’s a way to do a form of self-massage:

  • Put a tennis ball on the floor and lie down with your upper back against the ball.
  • Shift your position to gently roll the ball against your muscles.

You can also buy a foam roller or a self-massage tool.

Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Ask your provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

How can I help prevent rhomboid muscle strain or spasm?

Here are some of the things you can do to help prevent rhomboid muscle strain or spasm:

  • Do warm-up exercises and stretching before activities to help prevent injuries.
  • When you work at a computer, take frequent breaks to stretch your neck and back.
  • Follow safety rules and use any protective equipment recommended for your work or sport.

7 Possible Causes of Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade

Having pain under or near your shoulder blade—the triangular bone that forms the back of your shoulder—may limit arm movements and interfere with daily activities. This pain can range from being sharp or burning, such as between the spine and shoulder blade, to tender or achy across the shoulder or upper back. Some possible causes of this pain are discussed below.


Upper back pain may be caused by injuries, degenerative changes, and other factors.
Watch: Causes of Upper Back Pain Video

1. Poor posture

Prolonged sitting with poor posture may cause your spine to undergo structural changes that eventually cause pain underneath the shoulder blade. Hunching your back, tilting your head down, or sitting to one side—while working behind a desk or reading from a cell phone, for example—can weaken your muscles and place pressure on spinal discs, muscles, and ligaments. This routine imbalance can contribute to upper back pain.

See Posture to Straighten Your Back


2. Improper lifting technique

Lifting weight above your head without proper technique can leave your upper back and shoulders susceptible to injury. If you lift an object that is too heavy, or if the object is held away from the body with the spine misaligned, you can place undue pressure on your upper back. Lifting objects overhead that are too heavy can strain muscles or sprain ligaments, or potentially injure the shoulder joint or spine, which could refer pain under or near the shoulder blade.

See Avoid Back Injury with the Right Lifting Techniques

3. Overuse

Painting a ceiling, helping a friend move furniture, or participating in a softball league are all examples of activities that can put your upper back and shoulders through more work than they’re used to doing. Overuse can lead to muscle strains and ligament sprains, which can cause pain in the upper back, such as between your shoulder blade and spine. Another example is scapulothoracic bursitis, also called snapping scapula syndrome, in which the bursa between the shoulder blade (scapula) and thoracic spine becomes inflamed and painful from overuse or injury.

See Upper Back Pain from Intercostal Muscle Strain

In This Article:

  • 7 Possible Causes of Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade
  • Is Poor Posture Causing Your Back Pain?
  • How a Herniated Disc in Your Upper Back Causes Pain, Numbness, and Weakness
  • What You Should Know About Spinal Compression Fractures
  • Relieving the Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade
  • Causes of Upper Back Pain Video

4. Cervical herniated disc

A herniated disc in the cervical spine (neck) occurs when a disc’s outer layer (annulus fibrosus) tears and the inner layer (nucleus pulposus) starts to leak outward. A disc herniation can cause pain and may inflame a nearby nerve root that radiates pain down into the shoulder, arm, and/or hand. A disc herniation in the lower cervical spine is more likely to radiate pain into or near the shoulder blade area.1 While less common, it’s also possible for a disc herniation in the thoracic spine (upper back) to cause pain near the shoulder blade.

See Cervical Herniated Disc Symptoms and Treatment Options

5. Dislocated rib

While less common, a rib may pop out of place or become misaligned after repetitive strain or reaching for an item overhead. Sharp pain near your shoulder blade can result from this activity, and it can sometimes make it difficult to take a deep breath.


6. Heart condition

Some heart conditions can present as pain in the shoulder blade region. For example, aortic dissection is a serious, life-threatening condition that occurs when the heart’s largest artery gets a tear and may cause severe pain that can move under or near the shoulder blade.2 A heart attack may also present as pain felt in the upper back and/or shoulder, especially in women. 3

7. Compression fracture

A compression fracture is when a vertebral bone (typically in your upper back) weakens and compresses, causing back pain that feels better with rest or is sensitive to the touch. Compression fractures are most commonly caused by osteoporosis in older adults.

See When Back Pain Is a Spine Compression Fracture

This list of possible reasons for the pain underneath your shoulder blade is not exhaustive, but hopefully it gives you a helpful starting point on the journey to relief. Any back or shoulder pain that lingers a few weeks or interferes with daily activities should be evaluated by a doctor. If your pain is severe or accompanied by other red flag symptoms—such as headache, tingling, weakness, or nausea—seek immediate medical attention.

Learn more:

Diagnosing Upper Back Pain

Relieving the Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade

Shoulder Blade Pain: Your Guide to Pain Relief

3. Try out cold or heat therapy

Ice is a quick way to relieve pain. Wrap the ice or cooling device in a wet cloth before applying it to your skin. Apply the cold device for 15-20 minutes. Leave about 45 minutes in between applications. Ice or cold reduces blood flow to the affected area. By doing so, inflammation and swelling may be reduced. As a result, you feel less pain.

Some individuals prefer heat over cold. Go with what feels best for you, or alternate between them. Heat, in particular, may offer relief, if your muscles feel tense. Heat promotes blood flow in the applied area and also causes the local muscles to relax.

4. Take over-the-counter pain relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers are a quick route to reduce inflammation and pain. Aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen (in the US), and paracetamol (acetaminophen in the US) are all viable options.

Make sure not to use these medications for longer than 10-14 days. Long-term use is associated with gastrointestinal issues and other adverse effects. Most of these medications are intended for short-term use.

If your pain or condition doesn’t improve in due time, get it checked out by your doctor or a physical therapist. Further, if you’re continuing heavy exercising during this time, be careful! It may dull your perception of your pain, since exercise stimulates your body’s natural pain relievers.

5. Give yourself a massage

Or better yet, book yourself a massage. If this isn’t an option, there are easy home remedies you can try. A foam roller or massage ball is your best bet. Roll the foam roller or ball under your shoulder blade until you find that tender spot. Once you find the spot, slowly roll side-to-side, up-and-down, or in a circular pattern. Do this for a minute or more. It should feel like a good pain – as if you’re releasing something. Feel free to use this method once or even twice a day.

6. Acupuncture May Help

Acupuncture has been used for centuries. It works by inducing a reflex that makes muscles relax. This release of tension may lead to pain relief. Some people are very responsive to this technique.

7. Do none of these work for you? It’s time to consult with the pros.

If none of these offer pain relief, book an appointment with your doctor or physical therapist. They will assess your condition, diagnose it and guide you through a treatment plan unique to you and your situation.

Preventing Your Shoulder Blade Pain

After you’ve found an efficient way to relieve your pain, the next step is prevention. How can you prevent this pain from happening again? The main route to prevention is exercise. Strengthening and stretching the vulnerable area or previously injured area will help you avoid pain down the road. Make sure you slowly ease into exercise.

Exercise regularly, and keep in mind, that the key to long term relief, is to keep training, which you often will have to do for many months. Strengthening exercises ought to be done two to three times a week, with one – two days pause. Stretching exercises can be done daily .

Start with once every two days. In a week or so, bump it up to twice every two days. In about 4-6 weeks, try doing these exercises 2-3 times a day every other day. The following exercises you can find on Injurymap. Our app takes the guesswork out of exercise. It helps you ease into it and guides you through each and every step.

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