How to Relieve Pain Under Your Shoulder Blade

Man holding shoulder in pain

Last Updated on April 4, 2024

Have you been experiencing pain under your shoulder blade?

Shoulder blade pain can wreak havoc on your life. It can make performing daily tasks difficult, and it can keep you from enjoying the activities you once loved.

Shoulder pain can have many causes. You might injure your shoulder in an accident or fall, or you might have overworked your shoulder when performing a chore such as painting or doing too many overhead presses at the gym.  Believe it or not, shoulder pain can also result from having poor posture after sitting for long hours  at your desk.

In some cases, pain in the shoulder stems from a chronic condition, such as arthritis. The good news is, there are many things you can do to relieve your shoulder pain.

Read below to learn the top remedies for shoulder pain relief.

1. Acupuncture

Female back with steel needles during procedure of acupuncture therapy

Acupuncture is a complementary therapy that originated thousands of years ago in China. During treatment, an acupuncturist will insert tiny needles into specific points on your body.

The insertion of needles helps to improve blood flow, decrease inflammation, heal torn tissue, and reduce pain. It also helps to increase your range of motion. Your acupuncturist may also gently twirl or move the needles to apply heat to the pain site. For most patients, the needles stay in place for 10 to 20 minutes while you lie still.

While having a bunch of needles inserted into your body may sound painful, acupuncture is a painless procedure. People often don’t feel the needles being inserted at all.

Acupuncture can help treat shoulder pain stemming from all sorts of issues, including arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, and rotator cuff injuries. Many people receive acupuncture in conjunction with massage therapy and chiropractic care.

In addition to helping with pain management, acupuncture can also help relieve headaches and stress and boost your mental health.

Related: What is Sports Medicine Chiropractor? 

2. Massage Therapy

Certain forms of massage therapy can also help relieve shoulder pain. There are many different types of massages, including:

  • Deep tissue massage

  • Trigger point massage

  • Thai massage

  • Sport massage

  • Shiatsu massage

  • Reflexology

  • Trigger point massage

  • Prenatal massage

While all types of massage can help with shoulder pain to some degree, typically, deep tissue and Swedish massage are the best options for shoulder pain relief.

Swedish massage is a gentle form of full-body massage that’s great for those who have a lot of tension. During a Swedish massage appointment, your therapist will use a combination of:

  • Tapping and vibration

  • Kneading

  • Long, flowing strokes toward the heart

  • Passive range of motion techniques

These techniques will help relieve muscle knots and relax your whole body. On the other hand, deep tissue massage involves more pressure than a Swedish massage.

During your appointment, your therapist will use deep finger pressure and slow strokes to relieve tension in your shoulder. Deep tissue massage is a great choice for those experiencing chronic shoulder problems, such as injury, soreness, or imbalance.

Related: Massage Therapy at Inner Gate Acupuncture

3. Chiropractic Care

Chiropractor adjusting shoulder on patient

When experiencing shoulder pain, many people turn to a chiropractor for help. A chiropractor is a trained medical professional who performs adjustments on the spine and other parts of the body.

The goal of chiropractic care is to fix alignment issues, ease pain, and support the body in the natural healing process. Your chiropractor will form a treatment plan based on the root cause of your shoulder injury.

For example, someone dealing with dislocation may receive a different treatment from someone with rotator cuff issues. Most chiropractors will use a combination of the following treatments:

Massage: Chiropractors offer both hand and hydromassage to alleviate shoulder pain. Massage helps to relieve stiffness and tightness and restore range of motion.

Adjustments: There are five main adjustment techniques chiropractors use: the Gonstead technique, the activator technique, the diversified technique, flexion distraction, and the Thompson technique.

Posture Correction: When people work at a desk all day, they tend to develop poor posture, which leads to excess pressure on the muscles and joints. Your chiropractor can teach you the correct posture to prevent your shoulders from rolling forward and causing stiffness and inflammation.

Your chiropractor may also assign you specific exercises to strengthen your shoulder muscles. They may also use electrostimulation therapy, which involves sending painless electric waves to sore shoulder muscles.

Are you wondering how to select the chiropractor for your condition? Click here to learn how.

4. Heat or Cold Therapy

Applying a heated gel pack to your shoulder can help soothe stiffness and relax the tension in your muscles. If you don’t have a heated gel pack, you can also use a heated water bottle or heating pad.

You can also apply a cold compress to your shoulder to reduce swelling and numb sharp pain. You can apply an ice pack to your shoulder for 20 minutes at a time, up to five times per day.

If you don’t have a frozen gel pack, you can put ice cubes in a bag or use a bag of frozen peas. However, don’t apply the cold pack directly to your skin- wrap it in a towel first.

Related: What to Do When You Throw Out Your Back

5. Pain Medication

Your doctor may recommend medication for your shoulder pain. If you’re suffering from arthritis, tendonitis, or a rotator cuff injury, then your shoulder is likely inflamed.

To reduce inflammation, you can take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID). Popular examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. If you’re experiencing muscle spasms or tensions around your shoulder joint, your doctor may also prescribe  muscle relaxants.

Common examples of muscle relaxants include baclofen, tizanidine, and cyclobenzaprine.

6. At-Home Stretches

There are many at-home stretches you can perform to relieve pain in your shoulder blade. Some of the best options include the:

Neck Release: Tuck your chin into your chest and roll your head from side to side.

Across the Chest: Bring one arm across your chest and hold it with the other arm. Hold for one minute before switching sides.

Seated Twist: Sit upright in a chair and twist your body to one side. Hold the position for 30 seconds.

Time to Relieve Shoulder Blade Pain

As you can see, there are many things you can do to relieve pain in your shoulder blades. With the above tactics, your shoulder pain should ease and soon you should be able to return to your favorite activities.

A acupuncture

Are you looking for shoulder pain relief in the Portland, Oregon area? Contact us today! 

At Inner Gate Acupuncture we provide a healing environment where patients are educated and guided to achieve improved health.

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