It can be difficult to determine what’s causing the constant pain underneath your shoulder blade near the spine, but even worse is how the pain negatively affects your quality of life.
Fortunately, there are several treatments you can try. Here are 5 ideas that may help ease your pain.
1. Rest your upper back from activity
If your pain worsens when you do certain movements or physical activities, such as household chores or exercise, rest for a day or two. Pausing from physical activity may help reduce your pain and prevent overuse. Don’t cease from activity for too long or altogether, though, as many people report that a sedentary life makes the upper back pain worse.
2. Apply ice and/or heat
Cold therapy, such as ice wrapped in cloth, can be applied to your back for about 10 to 20 minutes at a time, with at least a 2-hour break in between sessions. Heat therapy, such as a heating pad, is best used for 15 or 20 minutes per treatment, with no more than one treatment every 2 hours. Include a layer between the heat source and your skin to avoid a burn. Try alternating between ice therapy and heat therapy to see which helps relieve your pain the most.
3. Take over-the-counter (OTC) medication
One option to consider when trying to ease the pain is OTC medications, which can be purchased at a local grocery store or drug store without a prescription. These medications work to reduce inflammation and prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. OTC medications you might consider include aspirin (e.g., Bayer), ibuprofen (e.g., Advil), naproxen (e.g., Aleve), and acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol). Be sure to read and follow the directions on the label.
4. Massage it out
The pain underneath your shoulder blade may feel like a tight knot. A massage can help loosen your muscles and get more blood to the affected area. Seek out a willing friend or family member—or a professional—to massage the painful spot, which can release tension and bring about relief.
You can also give yourself a massage with a foam roller, which is a cylinder you might have seen at the gym. To use, slowly roll the foam roller until you find the tender spot under your shoulder blade, then apply gentle pressure there for less than a minute. Hopefully, a massage provides relief and speeds up your recovery.
5. Visit a health care provider
If the above treatments don’t effectively reduce the pain underneath your shoulder blade, visit a physiatrist, chiropractor, or physical therapist. These health care providers can individually tailor plans that will help you strengthen and stretch your upper back, neck, and core muscles. They might also provide manual manipulation, using hand maneuvers to loosen stiff muscles or misaligned joints.
You may need to take a trial and error approach with these tips. Try a combination of these treatment ideas to see what reduces the pain underneath your shoulder blade.