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Radiating Pain Under the Base of the Shoulder-Blade

Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,

The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get relief,
and more…

How People Describe This Pain Pattern

Radiating pain under the bottom of the shoulder blade is either acute or chronic.

  • Acute cases complain of sharp pain that jabs at them and radiates up and toward the spine. It makes them stiff and aggravated because the wrong move creates pain. Once its aggravated, it can radiate, even when they are still.
  • Chronic cases have a low level ache and occasionally move in a way that aggravates the trigger point. Sudden or extreme movements that twist and extend the spine can be very sharp. Long periods bent forward create dull, aching pain.

When it is really aggravated, it radiates up between the shoulders and through to the front. This can be concerning, especially for clients with heart conditions.

Pain through the chest is indicative of a heart condition. See your doctor before seeking relief from bodywork.

I see a number of these cases and always have a frank conversation about cardiac care. I always refer them to a doctor for examination.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

This is activated by persistent or sudden twisting. Usually, this is combined with extending the trunk and head up and back. Painting and soffit work are perfect for creating this problem. It can also be activated by jerking activities like roller coasters, car accidents, slipping on the ice, etc.

Once it is activated, it is aggravated by bending forward for a while. This might include washing dishes, kneading dough, working on cars, or planting flowers. Oh, and as usual, the laptop. Also, it is aggravated by sudden jerks the take the head up or twists the torso. Clients have complained about long car rides with their head pulled forward, “sleeping wrong” or new exercise routines..

The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

This section of the erector spinae ties the lateral angles of the ribs to the lower cervicals and pelvis. Read more in this post about iliocostalis

Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Strategies

This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch, ice, and more to relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.

Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise

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

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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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*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.