It is easy to dismiss upper back pain, pain between the shoulder blades, as just a consequence of working too hard and straining something.
This is often a fair assumption, and pain may simply be a result of overexertion and poor posture.
However, upper back pain an also be a clue that something more serious is going on. It’s important that you have it checked out to find out for sure.
Swollen Facet Joints
One of the most common causes of back pain is simply the facet joints. These are the joints between the disks in your spinal cord.
They are responsible for your spine is able to twist, but also to have enough stiffness to provide you support to stand and walk.
Like every other joint, they can become inflamed and swollen from excessive use. This isn’t a terribly serious condition, and will simply need to be rested.
Another, more serious cause of back pain is from a herniated disk. This means that one of the disks of cartilage that are between the joint in your spinal column has become herniated.
The soft gel-like substance within the disk has moved through the hard outer wall of the disk that contains it.
Aging is often the culprit, though lifting incorrectly and excessive movement can also be to blame.
A herniated disk will, like the facet joint, cause pain. Unlike inflamed facet joints, however, it may also cause pain in your arms. It can also cause numbness, as it commonly turns into a nervous problem as well.
This condition actually originates in the gallbladder. However, it causes pain in the upper abdomen and back. It means that the normal flow of bile has been interrupted.
Bile normally flows from the gallbladder through the bile duct and into the small intestine to help with digestion.
However, when this flow is interrupted, the bile builds up and causes inflammation.
The most common cause of biliary colic is a gallstone blocking caught in the duct. To try to clear the stone, the bile duct contracts violently, which causes pain.
People who have biliary colic often have an ache or a sensation of pressure in the upper abdomen.
The pain generally starts in the upper abdomen or the upper right part of the abdomen near the gallbladder and liver.
If left, this pain can then spread back to an area behind the right shoulder blade. Many will also have nausea and vomiting in addition to the pain.
The symptoms of biliary colic are generally triggered by the body’s need for bile. Because bile is used to digest fat, these symptoms are especially common after fatty meals.
In rare circumstances, the symptoms may also appear after an individual has been fasting and suddenly breaks their fast with a large meal.
Cervical spine/nerve root problems
Another possible cause of upper back issues are injuries to the cervical spine. These will often be the result of whiplash or some other form of injury caused by a car accident.
Injuries may be both to the actual bone and to the muscle tissue in the area. This is especially true of the trapezius muscle and the deeper rhomboid muscles. It is also true of the levator scapulae muscles surrounding the neck.
The valve responsible for holding food and stomach acids in the stomach may have become weakened.
This allows digestive acids to flow back into the esophagus and causes burning sensations and pain in the chest after eating.
This pain can also radiate back in the area between the shoulder blades. This is especially true if you experience pain at night since gravity will be helping the acid along.
This condition may be solved by over-the-counter medications, or it may require the more powerful acid neutralizers available by prescription.
When most people think of a heart attack, they have a very specific picture in mind. A person clutches his chest, turns red in the face and falls to the floor.
This is the classic image of a heart attack that has been shown to us by TV and movies. However, heart attacks need not be as sudden as has been portrayed.
Often, they will give warning symptoms in the weeks before. These warnings can include pain between the shoulder blades, severe fatigue, the pressure in the chest or abdomen and nausea or dizziness.
In particular, women may not have the stereotypical experience of a heart attack. They are more likely than men to have radiating pain under the ribcage and into the upper back.
The Pain of this type needs to motivate a person to seek more answers with a doctor. It’s still unlikely that the heart is involved in your back pain, but it is a possibility.
While it may seem an over-reaction to pull out the “big C,” pain between the shoulder blades can be a sign of esophageal cancer or lung cancer. Liver cancer can also cause widely radiating pain, and therefore can also cause pain in the upper back.
Upper back pain can simply be, as many people will suspect right from the start, a matter of overexertion or poor posture. In these cases, it will be very simple to fix. Just wait out the pain and rest.
However, sometimes you’ll miss the right diagnosis of your pain. Upper back pain can be an indication of something more serious, like nervous issues or even cancer. It is important to get them checked out.
This is especially true if you’ve already tried regular painkillers and rest, and it is not helping.
Persistent pain that doesn’t respond to ordinary remedies is an indication that something more serious could be going on.
“Having Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades? Read This.” Back Pain Health Center. http://www.backpainhc.com/back-pain-between-shoulder-blades.
“Suffering from pain between shoulder blades?” Shoulder Pain Guide. http://www.shoulderpainguide.net.
“Sharp Upper Back Pain between Shoulder Blades – A Must-Read Primer.” HubPages. http://healthbooklet.hubpages.com/hub/Sharp-Upper-Back-Pain-between-Shoulder-Blades-A-Must-Read-Primer.