When pain is felt between the shoulder blades, it would be assumed that there is a problem somewhere in that area, but it could actually be coming from your neck area. Knowing where the pain originates from can help in formulating a treatment plan to alleviate discomfort. Better yet, knowing how the problem started, can help the pain from developing to begin with.
Nerves: The Struggle is Real
Pain is caused by the nerves becoming entrapped within tight muscles. The area around the neck and shoulders is especially prone to entrapment due to the crowded nerves that run from the neck area down into the scapular (shoulder) area. They twist and turn in tight spaces around and through muscles that run along your spine from the base of your skull down into your shoulder area. When the muscles become tight and inflamed they further compress and crowd the nerves. That causes the nerves to become grumpy. The grumpiness runs all the way down to the muscles between your shoulder blades. As the pain settles in, it becomes worse, often radiating to even further parts of the back and down the arms. The key is to be prompt in a treatment plan that calms the irritation, so that the area of pain becomes smaller and smaller until it ultimately disappears.
Pretty Darn Heavy
There are several possibilities for flare-ups of pain. If your posture is typical of most, your head is forward from your torso for a good part of the day. For every degree forward it leans, it places more strain and tension on the muscles that are trying to hold your head in it’s perfectly positioned relaxed state, which is directly over your torso, not in front of it. Looking down at a mobile device, working or playing on a computer and simply walking around with your shoulders rounded and head forward is a recipe for pain eventually.
Lastly a big culprit of muscle tightness is emotional tension. When you are feeling stressed your muscles tighten up. After days, weeks and months of chronic tension, the nerves that are involved with the tight muscles can’t take it anymore. They scream out in pain. Often we hear, ” I just woke up with this pain out of nowhere!” Very seldom is that the case.
Just imagine the scenario of having all three triggers of pain working against you simultaneously! What a mess. When the muscles in your neck become tense they put the squeeze on the nerves around them. The tensor the muscles, the tighter the squeeze. Injuries and chronic tension can cause fraying and micro-tears. The rough edges from the tears can rub the nerves wrong and they will become irritated. Once irritated, the pain cycle begins.
So what to do?
Preventative actions can greatly help reduce the incidents of muscle tension in the neck. Although it is impossible to prevent some side impact injuries, we are able to improve our posture while working, playing and walking. It is helpful to recruit the expertise of a certified personal fitness trainer to help. They will be able to identify posture issues and give you strengthening and stretching exercises to assist in proper posture. We are also able to manage stress. Meditate, exercise, consult with a lifestyle coach…. do what you have to do to figure out what works for you.
In the mean time while you’re experiencing the symptoms of the problem, a massage therapist can help relax and reduce the amount of tension in the muscles that are irritating the nerves. As a bonus, massage will also be very relaxing and help with managing your stress levels. Add to that, light stretches and a good skilled rub of the neck and shoulders and you will be on your way in reducing pain. Often it takes several sessions before the pain is completely gone. The muscles tend to go back to a tense state as you go back to your normal lifestyle. It also takes the nerves a longer time to relax than it does for muscles to relax. As you are identifying and improving posture issues and at the same time relieving discomfort through the massages, the two will come together and relieve you completely of the pain!
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