Can’t Reach Pain Under the Shoulder Blade

Your pain pattern,
What aggravates it,
How to get relief,
and more…


How People Describe This Pain Pattern

People complain of pain under the shoulder blade that can’t be reached. It aches fairly constantly. This pain can become so vague, unreachable, and constant that people do not consider it in their pain patterns anymore. When that happens, and this trigger point continues to worsen, people begin to complain about the elbow and wrist pain.

People may primarily complain about wrist pain as it bothers them when they use a computer mouse. They almost always admit to the shoulder pain when asked. They have concerns about carpal tunnel as this often bothers them more when they are reaching for a mouse. (there are several more common causes of wrist pain).

People seldom primarily complain of elbow pain. I remember a few of these cases when I thought that it was so unusual that elbow pain was relieved by working this trigger point when they never complained of shoulder pain.

It is usually combined with this pattern in the upper neck, which creates upper neck tension to go with the shoulder blade pain.



How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

This pattern becomes more active when the person reaches forward, and the shoulder-blade presses into the muscle as when reaching out while using the computer mouse or reaching out for the top of the steering wheel while driving.

This muscle, like scalene muscles, is overused in our culture of leaning forward for long periods while using our neck and shoulder to breathe. This retrains the breathing process, binds joints in the upper spine, and creates chronic patterns. This makes other activities, like exercising or sitting at dinner, achy and painful because of the shift in posture-related breathing patterns.


The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Effective relief starts with an understanding of the anatomy.

About the coloring of the illustrations…

This muscle is made of thin, flat strips that help to lift our ribs as we breather. Learn more in this post about serratus posterior superior.


Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Recommendations.

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.


Treatment Notes for Therapists

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise.

This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.


This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.


Weekly Featured Post

Can’t Reach the Pain
Under the Shoulder Blade

This pain and tension under the shoulder blade may be the most common pain pattern that I see. It isn’t always the primary complaint as people have gotten used to the constant ache.

It is usually combined with this pattern in the upper neck, which creates upper neck tension to go with the shoulder blade pain.

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.

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