Pain between the shoulder blades ??
The region in the middle of your back between the shoulder blades (thoracic spine) is a common area for pain and like most problems is usually multi-factorial in its make up. Our thoracic spine consists of 12 vertebrae (T1-T12)
Mostly people describe a sharp or tight restrictive pain in between the shoulder blades which may refer into the ribs around the chest wall or even into the front of the chest (sternum) – see fig 1
Often this pain can be confused with heart problems !! Pain is usually reported when twisting the trunk (rotation) or with sustained postures which sparks a deep seated ache. Like most areas an injury here can either be an acute incidental injury or a progressive onset injury related to extra load on this area (postural or otherwise).
The main risk for injury in this region is poor posture and the resulting loss of muscle function. Our Pilates session at Physiologic is a great example of using specific exercises which address this problem.
We have all heard the term core stability in relation to the muscles that protect and help the lower back to function. Interestingly the mid back has its own set of muscles (core stabilisers) which also protect and optimise its function. (fig 2 ). I explain to patients that this area of the spine forms the bridge between the lower back and neck. With poor supports under the bridge the result is the bridge collapses (pain between the shoulder blades) or the ends of the bridge (neck and lower back) take all the stress and start becoming sore !!! Many times I have successfully managed neck and lower back pain by aiming my treatment at the mid back region.
Lets examine how posture and the shape of the spine increases the risk of pain ! A normal shaped spine should have a set of smooth curves.
If your mid back appears as either too flat or too rounded the risk of injury is heightened !!