Fix Rhomboid Pain

How To Fix Rhomboid Pain

Are you dealing with a nagging discomfort in between your shoulder blade and your spine? No matter how many stretches you do, or how much time you spend foam rolling it, does it still persist? Pain in this area often gets labeled as a rhomboid issue because it is a relatively superficial muscle that you can appreciate from any anatomy chart. However, how to fix rhomboid pain sometimes may actually have little to do with the rhomboids. In this article, you’ll learn the ultimate secret of how to fix rhomboid pain by taking a look at a very specific movement!

 

Endless Nagging Between Your Shoulder Blades?: How To Fix Rhomboid Pain

If there was only one movement assessment I had to pick when it comes to evaluating interscapular pain, I’m going to look at thoracic rotation mobility. Be sure to watch the full video to learn not just how to assess, but also how to improve thoracic rotation mobility and potentially fix rhomboid pain!

 

Manage your Rhomboid Pain With Our Program

Poor thoracic rotation mobility can wreak havoc on the body and can definitely refer pain and discomfort to the rhomboid region. Poor thoracic rotation mobility is often coupled with poor scapular mobility/stability, which can only contribute to more issues like neck pain or shoulder pain! I have found that simply improving thoracic rotation mobility can improve interscapular discomfort. Yet, the average person is bound to be stiff and limited in this region and the rest of their mid back! We can blame 21st-century workplaces and lifestyle habits, but the good thing is the thoracic spine and mid-back region respond extremely well to the right dose of exercises. We have a proven program to improve your thoracic spine mobility designed to get you moving better and feeling better! Learn more HERE.

 

How To Fix Rhomboid Pain: Understanding Interscapular Pain & Anatomy

 

Rhomboid pain is labeled as pain in between your shoulder blade and your spine (interscapular pain) that can even refer up to the base of your neck or down the middle of your back. It is often described as a nagging dull ache or pain, pressure, knifelike, pulling, or even a burning sensation (is that really rhomboid pain? Food for thought). You’ll often find people dealing with discomfort in this area wanting to fidget around in efforts to feel better – moving their head and neck around trying to stretch, rounding their shoulders, squeezing their shoulder blades back, or twisting their upper back, you name it. The occasional soreness in this region is nothing to be concerned about, especially if you did a hard upper back workout or carried a backpack for a long time. However, dealing with constant discomfort or pressure in this area can become a real nuisance.

For some people with chronic cases of mid scapular pain, they may have been told they’re dealing with Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS), which is typically a diagnosis of exclusion (meaning everything else has been ruled OUT). MPS is tricky and complicated because it can include a wide variety of symptoms, but it is often labeled as symptoms that cause pain over different parts of the body. Specifically, people will say they have ‘trigger points’ in their muscles, which are really sore and sensitive to touch and pressure. For some, the rhomboid region can get really sensitive and feel this way (1)!

 

Looking For A Comprehensive Neck & Mid Back Program?

rhomboid pain neck and mid back prehab guys

Perhaps you want more than just thoracic mobility, you actually want a mobility and stability program focused on your entire neck & mid-back? We have just the right program for you that covers rhomboid pain and much more. Click here to learn more

 

A forewarning, ‘trigger points’ is a sensitive subject amongst clinicians (pun intended) and can cause a ton of heated debate whether they are real or not and if we can actually palpate them because we still don’t fully understand what they are. However, we cannot and should not deny people from acknowledging what they’re feeling and how they’re trying to describe and communicate that to us! If you want to learn more about trigger points, click here. There also may be a connection to pain and discomfort in the rhomboid region when doing continuous computer work, here is an interesting read on it (2). With that being said, we wanted to set the record straight on posture and computer work. If you believe your rhomboid issue is related to your posture and your computer work, definitely check out the read below.

READ: THE PERFECT WORKING DESK POSTUREperfect working desk posture the prehab guys

 

What Else Can Contribute To This Pain?

Just because you’re dealing with discomfort in between your shoulder blade and your spine doesn’t mean we have to point the finger at the rhomboids every time! To fix rhomboid pain, we need to take a look at and consider all of the other anatomical structures in the area. This includes…

 

  • Thoracic spine

 

  • Ribs

 

  • Scapulothoracic joint & shoulder joint posture/alignment

 

  • Cervical and thoracic nerves

 

  • Cervical & thoracic discs

 

  • Scapula nerves (dorsal scapular nerve entrapment)

 

  • Paraspinal, Trapezius, Pecs, & Serratus Anterior muscles

 

This list can seem overwhelming, but it is definitely worthwhile to consider all potential contributing anatomical structures so that nothing is missed (especially in chronic cases that have failed targeted treatments) (3). However, we know improving thoracic spine mobility can definitely help with interscapular pain! Below you will find some great exercises to get you started.

 

Improve Rhomboid Pain: Exercise Promoting Thoracic Rotation Mobility

Open Books With Pillow Support

Sample Thoracic Spine Mobility Overhaul [P]Rehab Program Exercise

 

Rhomboid Fix [P]Rehab Workout

How To Fix Rhomboid Pain

Get a completely FREE Rhomboid Pain Workout including the exact parameters on these exercises + more for by inputting your email below!

 

Rhomboid Stretches

In efforts to fix rhomboid pain, you can’t rule out the rhomboids after all! Below you’ll find our favorite rhomboid stretch that hits the muscles like no other!

Doorway Stretch

Sample Thoracic Spine Mobility Overhaul [P]Rehab Program Exercise

 

Fix Rhomboid Pain With Serratus Anterior Activation Exercises

When speaking of muscle actions, the rhomboids are responsible for scapular elevation and downward rotation. The ideal scapula position is not excessive downward rotation, however, this is not uncommon and it can cause mid-back, neck, and even shoulder issues. An important antagonist of the rhomboids is the serratus anterior, which according to some schools of thought has a myofascial connection to the rhomboids. Along with improving thoracic rotation mobility and rhomboid stretching, we always give serratus anterior exercises for optimal scapula mobility and stability! Below you will find one of our favorites to help fix rhomboid pain.

Shoulder Flexion On Wall With Foam Roller

Rhomboid Pain Benefits From Shoulder Programming

Our shoulder program may be just exactly what your body needs! Scapular stability exercises are imperative when managing rhomboid pain, and our program delivers on this with 4+ months of programming! Click here to learn more

 

Conclusion

Interscapular pain can be a real nuisance, however, you now have a better idea of what can be contributing, what to assess (thoracic rotation), and what exercises to follow up to ultimately fix rhomboid pain! If you are looking for extra guidance and the ability to communicate with us, definitely check out our Neck & Mid Back [P]Rehab Program!

 

References

  1. Desai MJ, Saini V, Saini S. Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A Treatment Review. Pain and Therapy. 2013 June; 2(1): 21-36
  2. Yoo WG: Changes in pressure pain threshold of the upper trapezius, levator scapular and rhomboid muscles during continuous computer work. J Phys Ther Sci, 2013, 25: 1021–1022.
  3. Sultan HE, Younis El-tantawi GA. Role of dorsal scapular nerve entrapment in unilateral interscapular pain. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2013;94:1118-1125.

 

Disclaimer – The content here is designed for information & education purposes only and is not intended for medical advice.

26 Comments
  • Rebecca Goldwater
    Posted at 10:54h, 01 May Reply

    Love your articles team – excellent stuff! Hey thought you’d be interested to know – I’ve had bouts of “rhomboid pain” over the years and I think I’ve found a permanent fix in ELDOA.

    • Michael Lau
      Posted at 12:06h, 03 June Reply

      happy to hear that you have sound relief from your pain!!!!

  • NT Murphy
    Posted at 09:51h, 30 June Reply

    As an FYI to others in search of an answer. I’ve had “rhomboid” area pain for almost 2 years. Multiple physical therapists, and 2 MRIs. Poking, prodding, neck & scapular & shoulder stretching and strengthening, a Cortisone shot … all did nothing.

    FINALLY, a non-professional suggested it might be nerve damage (entrapment), and it was. If all else is failing, you should consider a Nerve Conduction Study,

    What’s stunning to me is that the possibility it was nerve related was never brought up by a physical therapist. I understand they probably aren’t proficient in the area, but should be aware.

    • Craig Lindell
      Posted at 08:04h, 21 July Reply

      It is typically a diagnosis by exclusion, meaning we rule out everything else first! So glad you were able to get it diagnosed correctly and sorted out, but that’s why we mention this as a potential culprit! Awareness is key

    • Jessica Young
      Posted at 11:12h, 05 August Reply

      Physiotherapists absolutely should be aware of nerve impingement and how to assess nerves. I often treat nerve related pain, probably just as often as I treat muscles or joints. This is pointed out above where The Prehab Guys (physiotherapists) are addressing that nerve pain is often a culprit. Hopefully your physiotherapist learned something new and will use it to be more successful in the future!

      • Sherif Elnaggar
        Posted at 07:16h, 25 August Reply

        Great comment, thank you!

  • Danielle Bell
    Posted at 19:19h, 30 August Reply

    Question about the side-lying open book exercise: Should there be increased hip and lumbar flexion in order to feel more motion in the thoracic area? Or neutral lumbar is recommended? Thanks!

  • Gary
    Posted at 23:56h, 19 October Reply

    I originally fell in such a way that my left shoulder took the brunt of hitting the ground. Years passed until I had chiropractic would pop the spine into alignment about 1/3rd the way down the thoracic. Never stayed in place for more than a few days. Is there a preferred order for doing the exercises? Any one in particular I should work into cautiously?

    • Craig Lindell
      Posted at 08:00h, 21 October Reply

      Hey Gary, you can try out the exercise order however you’d prefer! There is no right or wrong, just a matter of easing into the movements and range of motion to make sure your body feels ok!

  • Craig Lindell
    Posted at 07:59h, 21 October Reply

    Absolutely! The more hip flexion and lumbar flexion – the harder it is to compensate and move from these areas!

  • Deb Crawford
    Posted at 13:24h, 15 November Reply

    I’ve had nagging pain in this location for about 12 yrs. PTs concentrated on ROM of shoulders and strengthening traps. A few nights ago, I was leaning with my forearms on the back of a chair, bent at hips at almost a 90 degree angle, watching a movie, and started swinging my left leg in front of my right, sort of like a thread-the-needle with legs. The slight twisting motion felt really good in my mid back so I started researching what was happening there, which led me to rhomboids and further search took me here. I started doing these exercises and I’m feeling SO much better. It’s true about exercising in limited planes. These 3 exercises feel so good. Thank you for demonstrating them!

    • Craig Lindell
      Posted at 10:11h, 16 November Reply

      So glad you’ve found success with these exercises! You’re most welcome

  • Gareth
    Posted at 04:49h, 16 January Reply

    Love this page; thanks very much. Have been struggling all week, and these have really loosened me up 🙂 you deserve a medal!

    • Craig Lindell
      Posted at 15:26h, 16 January Reply

      Thank you for the kind words Gareth!! We truly appreciate your support and we are happy to help you out!

  • anthony bordin
    Posted at 05:45h, 04 February Reply

    Hello!

    I’ve been having interscapular pain for the past 2 and a half years. I have been to physiotherapists and they recommend me doing mostly neck and back stretches. They never looked at my thoracic mobility. I just did the self-assessment exercises and noticed that my right side (the side that has the pain) is the one with less mobility.

    My question is, would you recommend for me to still workout while having this pain? ( I would also be doing the recommended exercises to help relieve the pain.). Or would you suggest for me to stop working out until the pain is fully gone?

    Thank you in advance!!!

    • Sherif Elnaggar
      Posted at 07:32h, 04 February Reply

      Hello! Thank you for your question! Unfortunately we are not able to answer your specific question as we are not allowed to legally.

      However, in regards to exercising with pain, I would read a couple of our articles that can give you more clarity on this topic:
      1) https://theprehabguys.com/is-no-pain-no-gain-true/
      2) https://theprehabguys.com/pain-science/

      Also, you could follow up with a physical therapist who could evaluate you in-person and help guide you with a focused exercise plan as well! Hope that this is helpful :). All the best!

  • Jack Dappen
    Posted at 17:11h, 08 February Reply

    I find this interesting and helpful…I have had pain for close to two weeks now and the VA is setting me up for pt. This information just might help them help me. Thank you Sincerely Jack

    • Sherif Elnaggar
      Posted at 08:25h, 09 February Reply

      We are very glad to hear that you found this interesting and helpful! We are very appreciate of your positive response. Best of luck to you with your PT!!!

  • Kevin Hill
    Posted at 04:57h, 20 April Reply

    How often should one do these exercises for rhomboid pain?

    • Sherif Elnaggar
      Posted at 12:20h, 21 April Reply

      Mobility exercises such as the ones shown in this article can be done each day, up to 2-3 times a day!

  • James Jack
    Posted at 00:40h, 28 April Reply

    James Jack

  • James Jack
    Posted at 00:41h, 28 April Reply

    What is the best type of specialist/professional to see for Nerve Entrapment? Thank you

    • Sherif Elnaggar
      Posted at 05:09h, 28 April Reply

      Hello! Thank you for your question! If the nerve entrapment is related to a movement problem, a physical therapist would be a great start. However, if you seek an evaluation from a physical therapist and he/she believes you would benefit from a further consult, usually appropriate referrals are to a neurologist. Also, there are physical therapists who specialize in EMG (electrodiagnostic medicine). You can search for physical therapists in your area at the website below. We hope this is helpful!

      https://aptaapps.apta.org/APTAPTDirectory/FindAPTDirectory.aspx

  • James Jack
    Posted at 06:32h, 28 April Reply

    Thanks so much you guys are AMAZING!

    • Sherif Elnaggar
      Posted at 11:29h, 29 April Reply

      You’re most welcome! Thank you for your support!!!

  • Jai Alexander
    Posted at 10:41h, 20 May Reply

    @NT Murphy did your pain go away after they found out it was the nerve that was entrapped ?

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