Physical Therapy for Shoulder Blade Pain, Upper Back & Neck Pain

I started physical therapy last week for my shoulder blade pain – a pain that keeps recurring behind my right shoulder blade, or scapula, in addition to my neck and shoulders.

First, let me just say that the physical therapists in the office are awesome.  Not only do they know what they are doing, the atmosphere is wonderfully laid back.  We have a lot of laughs while we do my therapy. It’s awesome, and I actually look forward to going.  I think finding a provider who can help you through a rough patch in your health who can make you look forward to being there instead of dreading it is an amazing thing and rarely found, at least in my experience.

We’ve already done so much in the way of exercises, stretches, and treatment for my upper back, shoulder and neck pain, that it’s hard to list them all here, but I shall try.

TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator)

Don't be scared of all the wires - TENS Unit

TENS Unit – Feel the Vibration

They stick these electrodes to my upper back (not as scary as it sounds) and have me lie down on my back with a heating pad beneath me.  The TENS Unit creates various levels of vibrations which feel like a massage.  Each session, they’ve had me lie down for 10 minutes while this sucker buzzes my ouchies away.

Stretches for Upper Back & Neck Pain

Relaxed neck stretches actually work a lot of upper back muscles as well.  For instance, the upper trapezius stretch, where I sit facing forward and just tilt my head to the left or right for 20 seconds, can be felt in the muscle behind the shoulder blade.  It basically stretches all of my problem areas with ease.

Medieval torture rack

They haven't tried putting me on the rack yet, but I hear it's actually used on some physical therapy patients...no joke!

Crazy Cool Equipment

They have me on different types of equipment as well in order to stretch out my muscles beneath my scapula (shoulder blade) in very gentle ways.  They also have me working on my core…AKA my flabby abs…to strengthen that area so that I am better prepared for future exercises.  I wanted my abs nice and worked anyway, since I apparently look pregnant, so that helps too.

Hurts So Good

At the end of it all, my physical therapist has me lie down on a massage table so she can pull, press on, pinch and work out my muscles while checking on my progress.  However, I’m hoping to get an actual massage appointment very soon.  Who wouldn’t want a massage paid for by their health insurance?

I will try to post some more details and photos another day.  Until then, I’m going to go and stretch my upper trapezius and do some scapula pinches too.

Here’s to living pain free…some day…

Upper Trapezius Stretch – Video


Question: If you suffer from any upper back and shoulder blade pain or have issues with neck pain, what types of stretches or therapies helped you the most?


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