Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,
The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
How People Describe This Pain Pattern
People complain of an area of aching pain at the base of the shoulder blade. They can’t reach it and may ask to trace the spot on my back or on the illustration that I have on the wall. It has a constant ache that suddenly becomes more painful on certain movements. It can be surprisingly painful if a dog jerks on the leash or if they are using their arm to support their weight as they come down a ladder.
The referral down the arm is not often present. Usually, it is felt when a person is involved in heavy weight training or rowing. Also, it can get achy down the arm during a pulling exercise like raking, weeding, or water skiing.
This referral makes the triceps ache with fatigue quickly during pullovers, lat pull-downs, or pull-ups and tasks like raking. It seems odd to the person that their triceps ache while doing lat exercises.
They often fail to find relief from bodywork as this muscle is overlooked and awkward to treat. The aching in the back creates concern about kidneys or gallbladder that may be creating pain in this area. These should be checked by a medical doctor, especially if there are other indications. The referral down the arm is usually seen as nerve root pain from C8.
How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern
This is usually aggravated by a forward pull that overstretched the upper latissimus dorsi. Ok, you probably aren’t a beefy water ski trickster. It is more likely to be strained by:
- a dog on a leash
- a kid jerking your arm
- jerking while rowing
- trying to unstick a door.
Occasionally this is caused by an upward jerk, but that usually activates other trigger points.
The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain
Pain in this area is also an indicator of problems with your kidney or gallbladder.
See your medical doctor, especially if you’ve had changes in bowel function or urination.
Getting Relief on Your Own
This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch, and other strategies that relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.
Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise
This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.
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Does Your Shoulder Hurt From the Covid-19 Vaccine?
This post offers quick, lasting relief from the pain in your shoulder that came from the vaccine. You will need an ice cube and about 2 minutes.
Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.
*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistencies in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.