Tag Archive for upper back pain between shoulder blades

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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My Shoulder Blade Pain…it just got worse…

Shoulder blade.

Image via Wikipedia

I already posted awhile back that I have some pretty bad shoulder blade pain…it’s all in my upper back, between the shoulder blades.  It happens without warning, usually when I wake up in the morning. I attribute it to sleeping funny or because one of my kids crawled into bed with us and I had a knee in my back all night.

This last time, the shoulder blade pain, or rather the upper back pain between the shoulder blades, came unexpectedly, without warning, and while I was awake.  I was sitting on the floor, I guess I was slouching, when it started.

And the days that followed were horrendous.

It started last Friday…so, a week ago…  Then Saturday, I was laid up in pain all day, and my husband took the kids out so that I could rest and they could enjoy themselves and not be cooped up with me all day.  I spent Mother’s Day on the couch in excruciating pain.  By Monday, the pain had moved up to my right shoulder, around my side and into my chest muscles.  I could barely move when I woke up in the morning without feeling the almost unbearable pain.

I went to the urgent care clinic.  The doctor there prescribed Vicodin and Valium!  I was worried about these drugs, because I have heard they are habit forming. The Vicodin, while it would relieve the shoulder blade pain (or should), was going to knock me out.  The Valium, used as a muscle relaxer in this situation, was also going to knock me out.  In addition, it’s commonly used as a sedative and is seriously addictive.  It’s an anti-anxiety drug, and since I have an anxiety disorder, I was wary of using it.  I was worried I was more prone to becoming addicted to it than most other people.

Shoulder Blade Pain Double jointed shoulder blades

That's not me, but I tell ya, I have a feeling this young lady will be me in her future. OUCH! "Double Jointed Shoulder Blades"

I took the Vicodin Monday night, and didn’t take it again.  I slept well, but I woke up with just as much pain as I did the morning before. I spent the rest of my day on Tylenol.  I can’t take Motrin or Aspirin because NSAIDs (Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) don’t mix with Prozac.

I went to see my PCM (Primary Care Manager) at my regular family practice clinic.  She was stunned that the doctor at Urgent Care prescribed those drugs to me.  She said, “If those two drugs [Valium and Vicodin] were prescribed to me, I wouldn’t take them together.”  She was glad I decided against the Valium, especially because it is so habit forming.  She told me to throw both prescriptions out and gave me another muscle relaxer prescription and instructed me to take half a pill at night-time only, so that I can sleep without the pain.

I took it last night, and it seemed to help.  My favorite sleeping position wasn’t painful this time.

The doctor told me that my upper back, shoulder and neck muscles were having spasms.  In addition to the new muscle relaxer, she told me I should get X-Rays and she referred me to physical therapy, which I’m very happy with.  I may decide to see a chiropractor, but unfortunately, my insurance won’t cover it.  It might be hard to scrounge up the money for that, so I’ll try PT first and hope that helps.

Thankfully, the shoulder blade pain has subsided for the most part. I’m still taking it easy, but I’m not laid up like I was before.  I’m actually useful, which is nice after several days of being confined to the couch.  All that time on the couch made me grumpy and anxious…it’s not good to be sedentary for very long.  It’s just not healthy.

I tried to do some minor abdominal work-outs today, but I could feel the shoulder blade pain returning when I started, so I stopped. Last night, though, I managed to get back to the gym and get a bit of a work-out in.  It wasn’t much. I rode the bicycle (the kind that are low to the ground with the straight back seats), and only did about 30 minutes and burned 146 calories. I didn’t burn nearly as many calories as I usually do, but I couldn’t get back into it all at once and risk hurting my back.

despite the shoulder blade pain, I burned 146 calories

I’m a little aggravated about the whole thing.  I manage to get one or two health issues under control, for the most part, and a new one pops up.  How annoying.  But I’m going to deal with it and just keep on truckin’!

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