Rhomboid Muscle Pain – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

It is no secret that we all end up experiencing various types of muscle pains in our lives at one point or another.

Just as you may have noticed some types of pain may be common and worse than others.

That is why this informative guide is going to focus entirely on educating you about a type of pain that is associated with the rhomboid muscle.

It is, however, important that you first understand what rhomboid muscles really are. Before getting to learn about this highly frustrating type of pain.


What are Rhomboid Muscles?

Rhomboid muscles. Which are shaped like diamonds or rhombuses. These are types of essential body muscles that are located in the thoracic spine (the upper part of the back).

There are basically two types of rhomboid muscles. Namely the rhomboid minor and rhomboid major muscles.

Both muscles are important for maintaining good posture, aiding appropriate shoulder and arm movements, stabilizing the thoracic spine, and improving shoulder blade stability.

These muscles are thin skeletal muscles. That are connected to the bones to primarily aid in the movement of all the body joints. That are located in the upper back area.

All the muscles found in the body are essentially made up of various tiny muscle fibers(1). That work uniformly to move the joints and limbs that are attached to them.

These muscle fibers, although surprisingly strong can be damaged due to various reasons.

About Rhomboid Muscle Pain

Rhomboid muscle pain, which can also be referred to as “shoulder blade pain,” is a mild-severe type of pain. That is experienced in the upper back region (the area between the lower back and the neck).

This type of pain is usually considered to be a common indication of various other underlying minor and serious upper back issues.

Muscles of the back

Rhomboid muscle strains occur when the fibers that make up the rhomboid muscles are overstretched or torn. This may then result in serious muscle spasms or rhomboid pain.

Shoulder blade pain is therefore caused by the excessive engagement or use of the rhomboid body muscles. This pain often makes it difficult for the patient to move their arms.

Signs and Symptoms of Rhomboid Muscle Pain

  • Muscle pain that is particularly felt in the area between the shoulder blades and spine.
  • Significant swelling in the affected area (an indication that the body is trying to heal itself).
  • Upper back tightness or tenderness.
  • Pain when moving the shoulders or breathing.
  • Spasms, tightness or knots in the rhomboid muscles.
  • Acute shooting pain that results in difficult yet painful body movements.

Common Causes of Rhomboid Muscle Pain

1. Muscle strain or spasms. This is considered to be the most common cause of shoulder blade pain. Just as discussed earlier. The excessive use or over engagement of rhomboid body muscles can result in rhomboid pain. This over engagement is quite prevalent during certain sporting activities. These include rowing and tennis.

2.  Adopting a bad sitting posture for a relatively long time can induce rhomboid muscle spasms and also end up tiring the back muscles. Hence always have a good sitting posture(2).

3.  Fatigued or weakened rhomboid muscles may stiffen up suddenly. This can happen while bending, reaching out to objects that are placed on a higher level or trying to carry out overhead exercises.

4. Chronic stress has also been known to cause shoulder blade pain.

5. Lifting heavy loads.

6. The rupturing of rhomboid muscles.

7. A sudden awkward movement that pulls the body muscles.

Rhomboid Pain Treatment


This is the most natural and easiest way to heal a sprained or ruptured rhomboid muscle. You should always try as much as possible to rest or relax when experiencing rhomboid pain. This is because any attempt to do any other strenuous activity may end up hindering the recovery process. This may also instead worsen the condition.

The use of pharmaceutical drugs

Certain pharmaceutical drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen can be taken to not only alleviate rhomboid pain but also reduce the inflammation and swelling. That is usually associated with the disorder. These drugs are also effective blood thinners that work perfectly to alleviate rhomboid muscle swelling.

The use of natural herbs

There are also various types of herbs that can be topically applied or taken internally to alleviate rhomboid pain. Together with its common symptoms. Natural herbs are often used instead of the commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs as they do not cause any serious side effects.

Heat therapy

Heat therapy basically entails the application of significant heat over the upper back region for almost a half an hour. You are, however, warned against applying heat therapy overnight.

Cold compress

You can wrap a handful of ice cubes or ice bags in a towel and then press them onto the affected area for about 20 minutes to alleviate shoulder blade pain. This technique has been proven to be quite effective at alleviating both rhomboid muscle swelling and pain.

Physical therapy

You can carry out physical therapy at your home or visit a qualified physiotherapist to help you with the same. Physical therapy, which entails the use of mild exercises and gentle stretching. This is considered to be an effective treatment option for rhomboid pain and swelling.

Carrying out mild exercises cautiously is guaranteed to help strengthen your rhomboid muscles. While also increasing their flexibility. Massage therapy, which is also part of the physical therapy process, can also be used to relax your body muscles and also promote holistic healing.

Rhomboid Muscle Stretch

The video below shows simple exercises to stretch the Rhomboid Muscle:

Carrying out various stress relieving activities

Carrying out some simple stress-relieving activities is guaranteed to help alleviate the shoulder blade pain. That is caused by chronic stress.

Preventive Measures

  • Avoid lifting heavy objects.
  • Train regularly to increase your overall strength and flexibility.
  • Always practice proper techniques when lifting objects or playing sports.
  • Exercise indoors, especially in very cold environments.
  • Stretch and warm up always before engaging in any type of exercise. This will help prevent any potential injury by increasing flexibility, improving circulation and loosening all body muscles.


The pain that is associated with the rhomboid muscles is expected to subside in about four weeks. It is, however, important that you visit a doctor if the pain persists and you have no hope of recovery.

You should always first make use of the naturally available rhomboid treatment options. Before deciding to take any prescription drugs.

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