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Strange back/shoulder blade/lat pain.

I’ve had a somewhat strange upper mid back pain for going on for over 6 weeks. I am almost 98% sure it’s muscular, but nothing I’ve tried has helped.

The pain is all on my left side, right beside and right below my shoulder blade. My lat and the muscle right next to my spine, sort of adjacent to and just below my shoulder blade is affected. 

I say it’s strange because, while the pain is isolated to the left side lat and muscle by the spine, the pain changes throughout the day. The worst is at the end of the day. The muscle by my spine has a sharp almost burning kind of intense pain. It’s basically always in the exact same spot. Laying down on the floor is about the only thing that helps. But through the day, I’ll have an ache in that whole lat-back area, (different places at different times, and sometimes basically no pain at all). At times I’ll have a sharper pinpoint pain like a bad knot, but not always in the exact same spot. Every once in a while, I’ll have sort of tingling or numbness, but it’s just in that region.

I haven’t had any other problems. No numbness or tingling, no substantial range of motions difficulties. 

When it first started, I started to do some postural resistance band exercises, but after a couple days, it only got worse. After that I had some massage therapy, then went to my chiropractor. I thought one massage and an adjustment would do the trick, but neither helped much. I went to the massage therapist a total of three times, to the point that she said my left side felt better than my right. I also did some foam roller stretching too.

My chiropractor did three ultrasound treatments, and did some manual deep tissue work on the muscle under my shoulder blade. It was incredibly painful, but I saw the most improvement from that…

It’s been about three weeks since that treatment, and I’m not improving. My chiropractor said they only do 3 ultrasound treatments. They’ve mentioned dry needling as a next step.

I’ve been doing some stretch band stretches, along with a few other stretches, and a few exercises too. I have a new high-end ergonomic chair at work, and I rearranged my work station a few weeks ago to be more ergonomic.

As far as I know, I did not do anything to get injured. My job has me at a desk for several hours a day, and my posture at work hasn’t been the greatest. But I’ve exercised enough to keep my standing posture pretty decent. I have and anterior rotation in my shoulders but nothing crazy, and slight forward head tilt. 

I am going to try the dry needling, but if anyone has any other advice or treatment options,  I’m open to try anything at this point. 6+ weeks of not being able to do anything when I get home from the office has me pretty discouraged. 

TLDR; I have a sharp pain under my left shoulder blade, lat and back. Stretching, ultrasound, massage, chiropractic adjustments, and postural exercises haven’t helped. Any ideas?


  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,480

    welcome to spine-health

    have you seen a neurosurgeon or neurologist? someone who can do diagnostic testing. that would be my instinct. go to a specialist. 

    while you are waiting on other members to reply, please click on the welcome link and the tutorial.
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    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
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  • Almost precisely what my wife is currently suffering from but hers started 4-5 months ago...let's keep in touch on this.

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  • Does your pain run into the trap into the neck to the base of your skull?

  • I have not seen a neurosurgeon or neurologist as it seems to be a muscular problem. I hope it doesn't come to that. . . 

    chrsmneric - My pain is almost entirely isolated to my lat and my lower trap beneath my shoulder blade. The worst is my lower lat below my shoulder blade. I have basically no other pain. My upper trap and neck are virtually pain free. 

    Some research and self-diagnosis leads me to think I may have what's called Upper Cross Syndrome, which is essentially a postural disfunction that involves shortened and tight pec minors and upper traps and over-stretched and weak rhomboids and lower traps. If that's the case, it may explain why I haven't found much relief from stretches and massages — those are only really exacerbating the problem. I've been trying to stretch and loosen that muscle when maybe the problem is that it's too loose and weakened.

    I have an appoint for dry needling therapy later today. I'll go see what they say, try out the treatment. But if that doesn't help, I may just try an intense regimen of the exercises and stretches for Upper Cross Syndrome to see if that makes any difference. 

    I would still love to hear from others with tips or advice though, so if you have any to share, please do so.

  • So maybe different issues at hand, I thought my wife's was caused by the serratus anterior muscle but so damn hard to get a diagnosis from a quality doctor. I have been seeing a slew of people complaining about LEFT back pain and the only thing I can think could be a correlation is that your left arm stays tight to our bodies at a desk whereas the right arm is more mobile with using the mouse. I'll let you know as things progress or regress and if we have any solutions...she tried dry needling with little reward but always worth a shot

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  • Also consider a wheat reduction in your diet to settle the inflammation

  • bms259bbms259 Posts: 0
    edited 12/01/2017 - 11:50 AM

    I went to a different chiropractor yesterday, the one to whom I was referred for dry needling. He did a little deeper diagnostic work. Ordered X-rays (waiting for results). But said that there was a good bit of knotting in my subscapularis and longissimus thoracis muscles, which makes a lot of sense to me. They are deeper muscles, but seem to be right where my pain originated. He also found some minor inflammation on two vertebra, hence the x-ray, which has me a little concerned. But assuming all that is ok, he seemed pretty confident that the dry needling would work well to release those muscles and allow me to get work on strengthening where I need to. 

  • Yea i looked both muscles up and the subscapularis is not bothering her but there's pain in the longissimus so the injuries or ailments are similar but different. I'm assuming the recent tingling sensations she's been getting is inflammation in the vertebrae area as well. We happen to contact a local imaging center whom disclosed that they have not settled on an agreement with our insurance company for out of network claims...long story short they will not bill us at all for an MRI so she is having a full back MRI done for free. She goes in next Thursday. Again, we will share any findings with you as I feel like there is enough similarities so say these are closely related injuries. Please do so as well.

  • So X-ray results are in. I have some very very minor degenerative disk in T6, but nothing that would be giving me problems. In ten years it will, but it’s not the cause of my trouble. 

    I had my first round of dry needling on my subscapularis, longissimis, and lat. It was very very weird. Not really painful, but not pleasant either. I’m pretty sore right now, but honestly feel so much better than I have in weeks, especially in the longissimus and lat. I have another appointment later this week, but I’m really hopeful.

  • That's excellent it's showing signs of relief! My wife has had dry needling done on a foot injury and it was beneficial in providing relief for her. She dealt with the foot for 18months prior to the back/shoulder issue. She goes in at 11:30am tomorrow for the MRI. Wondering if she needs an x-ray as well...not familiar with the difference in what each will detect. I did dry needling once as well on the exact area her pain is...ironic. It was extremely weird and didn't necessarily do me much good considering I only gave it one visit. 

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