Pain between shoulder blades and shortness of breath can be a result of muscle strain. It can also be caused if the shoulder blade is out of its place or depressed. One of the most common symptoms of pain between shoulder blades is shortness of breath.
Pain between your shoulder blades can be directly related to shortness of breath as it makes it difficult to take full, deep breaths. Overusing the shoulder muscles by adopting a poor posture or doing certain activities can cause pain between the shoulder blades. It can have symptoms like chest pain, high temperature, extreme sweating, or feeling dizzy.
Causes and Treatment for Pain Between Shoulder Blades and Shortness of Breath
Pain between the shoulder blades, also known as interscapular pain, can have many causes. Some causes are described below:
When a person experiences anxiety or a high level of stress, the muscles in the body tend to tense up and cause tightness and tension that can lead to pain between the shoulder blades. Having panic attacks or extreme anxiety does not only affect a person mentally but physically too.
When a person gets anxious, it can be normal to feel tightness or a squeezing sensation that radiates from the chest towards the shoulder blades. Anxiety can play a big part in causing pain between shoulder blades and shortness of breath. However, in case of extreme pain or discomfort, consider getting help from a doctor.
Pain between shoulder blades also indicates shoulder arthritis. The gradual breakdown of articular cartilage and degeneration and inflammation of joints, including bones, can result in arthritis. Arthritis affects millions of people worldwide. It causes your joints to become inflexible and lose their mobility. Therefore, when a person moves, it causes soreness and pain between the shoulder blades and other joints. Also, it can lead to joint swelling.
Arthritis symptoms in the shoulder may include limited motion, loss of mobility, and difficulty while breathing.
3) Improper Lifting Of Heavy Objects
Repetitive use of the rotator cuff muscles could potentially lead to arthritis and muscle impingement. Lifting heavy objects with an improper posture can injure the rotator cuff tendons. Those people who lift heavy objects regularly experience tearing of the muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder blades. When we lift heavy things, our muscles tighten up. These tight muscles may lead to shortness of breath or breathing difficulties as well.
Symptoms that can lead to pain between shoulder blades due to heavy lifting include stiffness in joints, feeling pain while extending the arm, inflammation, and sharp pain while putting pressure on the area.
4) Poor Diet
Having a poor diet can be a big reason for pain between the shoulder blades and shortness of breath. Eating foods that are rich in fats and not taking a short walk after having heavy meals can result in heartburn. Heartburn can be typically felt as a burning sensation in the chest area, abdomen, or throughout the esophagus tube. The pain due to extreme heartburn can also be felt in between the shoulder blades.
People who eat too much salt may also experience pain in the shoulder and other joints of the body. Along with this, it may lead to shortness of breath as well.
Eating foods that contain a high level of sugar can also increase muscle and joint inflammation. If your body has trouble digesting the food or contains high blood sugar, you will most likely feel pain between your shoulder blades and experience shortness of breath.
5) Heart Problems
Chest pain or discomfort due to heart problems (Angina Pectoris) can also cause pain between the shoulder blades, jaw, and neck. Often, pain in the back, between the shoulder blades, and jaw are related to heart diseases. Many people feel pain between the shoulder blades and shortness of breath as the symptom of a heart attack. Heart attack can cause an uncomfortable feeling of pressure or squeeze in the upper area of a body.
6) Poor Posture
Sitting or lying in a poor posture for a long time may result in spinal injury and structural changes, leading to pain between the shoulder blades. Hunched back can limit our lung capacity. Limited lung capacity means that our body won’t get much oxygen, resulting in shortness of breath. So, there is no doubt that poor posture also contributes to pain between the shoulder blades and shortness of breath.
7) Herniated Disc
A herniated disc is a medical condition that affects the spine. The fibrous outer portion of the intervertebral disc ruptures or tears and causes the soft central portion to squeeze. Severe disc herniation can cause crucial pain between your shoulder blades and neck and in your arms, making it difficult to take deep breaths.
Symptoms of a herniated disc may include extreme or dull pain in the upper body, numbness, tingling, and burning like pain and discomfort.
Some ways to eliminate pain between shoulder blades and shortness of breath are:
Stretches and exercises allow your muscles to relax and release the tight areas in between shoulder blades.
- Arm Across Stretch
By performing this stretch, you will feel a slight stretch in your shoulders and upper back. It helps to increase the elasticity and mobility in your shoulder blades and upper back.
Bring your right arm towards the left side and wrap your left hand over the elbow of the other one. Move it gently from left to right, feeling a good stretch in your shoulder blades. Hold the stretch for about 20 – 30 seconds. Then repeat the process with the other arm. This will stretch the tightened tissues and muscles and help them loosen up.
- Y and W Pose Stretch
This exercise allows you to squeeze and put pressure on your shoulder blades and then release it. This is good for pain between the shoulder blades and shortness of breath as it also stretches the chest area.
Stand in a straight position. Lift both of your arms up and make a “Y” shape. Hold this position for about 5 seconds and repeat this 8 – 10 times. Then, lift your arms up again, making a “W” shape by bending the elbows slightly and put pressure on your shoulder blades. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat at least 10 times.
Taking medication can help alleviate the pain between the shoulder blades. Some anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, Tylenol, and Aspirin can ease pain between shoulder blades temporarily. However, long-term use of pain killers can have negative effects. Taking a large number of pain killers may also damage the organs of your body.
Getting a massage on your upper body can help circulate the blood flow. Massage near your shoulder blades can reduce stiffness and tension. It helps loosen up the muscles between the shoulder blades and allows a person to take full deep breaths.
If home remedies, medication, and exercises fail to alleviate the pain between your shoulder blades, you might need to see a doctor immediately. If symptoms worsen like extreme shortness of breath, coughing up blood, continuous headaches, and nausea, the doctor can suggest getting a minor surgery. Surgery for pain between shoulder blades can be small, such as repairing torn-up tendons or scars due to serious injury.