Signs Your Upper Back Pain Is Serious Trouble

upper left back pain

Because we use our back for almost everything, it is an incredibly important part of the human body. However, it is also an incredibly delicate part of the body. Even minor injuries can leave you feeling pain and discomfort for months, or even years. Severe injuries to the back might lead to surgery, or even paralysis. Notably, it doesn’t even take an injury to cause detrimental discomfort to arise in your back. All it takes is poor posture at a desk job. Upper left back pain is difficult and annoying to deal with. Luckily, we have solutions.

At The Pain Relief Center, we understand that pain and discomfort greatly decrease your quality of life. You’re probably frustrated, and you want answers. Fortunately, we’re here to help. We conduct scheduled pain management sessions to ensure that your pain stays under control after treatment. For those suffering from back pain, spinal pain, arthritis, or a number of other conditions, we can provide relief. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled physicians, please give us a call at 214-709-1904. We can’t wait to help you return to your way of living, pain-free. Visit our Plano spine institute for more information about the treatments we offer.

What Causes Pain Between Shoulder Blades?

Unfortunately, a large number of causes lead to upper left back pain or pain between shoulder blades. Because there are so many possible explanations, including very serious ones, this type of pain often worries patients. We actually call this sensation “interscapular pain,” which just means pain between shoulder blades, or scapula. A very common cause is mild muscle strain. However, it also has the potential to come from something much more serious, like a heart attack or even lung cancer. Below, we include a list of possible causes for upper left back pain, both mild and severe.

  • Muscle strain: This is without a doubt the most common cause of pain between shoulder blades. It often results from poor posture, heavy lifting, and activities that require twisting motions, like golf or tennis.
  • Trauma: Joint separations, shoulder separations, and rotator cuff tears can cause pain in the area. Shoulder dislocation causes a different sensation, usually felt more in the area of the shoulder joint.
  • Herniated/Bulging Disc: Some people feel upper left back pain from degenerative disc disease. Associated symptoms include numbness, tingling, and sometimes even pain in the neck.
  • Arthritis: Those with arthritis in the neck or ribs could experience interscapular pain.

Other Possible Causes:

  • Heart Attack
  • Cancer
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Nerve Entrapment
  • Acid Reflux
  • Scoliosis
  • Thoracic Aorta Rupture of Aortic Dissection
  • Pulmonary Embolism
  • Thoracic Vertebral Compression Fractures
  • Shingles
  • Epidural Anesthesia

How to Relieve Pain Between Shoulder Blades?

Luckily, certain home remedies exist for those with mild pain that does not require treatment by a medical professional. Below, we list our recommendations for home treatment, which we only recommend after you see a doctor about the issue first.

  • Exercise: Certain exercises build strength in the area. Try pushups, pullups, and sit ups at home to strengthen your back muscles.
  • Stretching: Yoga, as well as other stretching exercises work to improve circulation to those muscles. 
  • Rest: In some cases, all your body needs is rest. Especially if the pain results from an injury, the best remedy is to give your body a break.
  • Hot and cold therapy: Apply hot or cold compresses to relieve discomfort. Use them for about 15-20 minutes every few hours.
  • Physical therapy: Trained therapists can help in cases of injury or nerve compression.

What Causes Upper Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades When Breathing?

If you experience pain specifically while breathing, there are other causes to consider. Below, we list the potential causes for upper back pain while breathing.

  • Pleurisy: This condition affects the tissue covering the lungs on the outside. Infection causes the tissue to swell, which leads to chest pain and difficulty breathing. They may also feel pain between shoulder blades.
  • Muscle Strain: Again, this is the most common cause of upper back pain. 
  • Fractured Vertebra: These bones make up your spine, and are extremely important to your overall health. Fractures in these bones can be extremely painful, and feel worse while breathing.
  • Scoliosis: This causes a sideways curve of the spine. The severity of scoliosis varies from person to person, but it sometimes causes back pain.
  • Heart Attack: As we stated above, this is one possible cause of chest and back pain. In many cases, heart attacks start slowly. This slow start sometimes causes back pain.
  • Chest Infection: Conditions like pneumonia and bronchitis have the ability to cause chest pain. Sometimes, the chest swells from the infection, causing pain or discomfort all over the torso.

What Can Cause Upper Back Pain on the Left Side?

Specific pain, such as upper left back pain, has its own causes as well. Below, we list these causes.

  • Spinal Stenosis: This is the narrowing of the spinal canal. Overgrowths called bone spurs cause this.
  • Kyphosis: This is an outward curve of the upper spine. Another name for this condition is hunchback. 
  • Osteoarthritis: This occurs when there is a breakdown of cartilage at the ends of your bones. It happens everywhere, but it is the most common type of arthritis in the back.
  • Myofascial Pain: This condition causes sensitive trigger points within the muscles of your back.
  • Pancreatitis: This is the inflammation of the pancreas. It can cause pain in the upper abdomen and back.

What Are Common Upper Back Pain Treatments?

Aside from the home remedies we mentioned in a previous section, other treatments exist for mild to severe back pain. For these, we recommend speaking with one of our trained medical professionals at The Pain Relief Center. We’ll provide a proper diagnosis for the source of your pain and work closely with you to form a treatment plan. Below, we list possible treatment options.

  • Over-the-counter medications for pain, like ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen
  • Posture exercises
  • Prescription medications for anti-inflammatory purposes or for relaxing the muscles
  • Trigger point injections of strong pain medications
  • Surgery to repair fractures, to remove bone spurs, or to remove a bulging disc

Contact the Pain Relief Center Today

If you suffer with chronic upper left back pain or pain between shoulder blades, we’re here to help. At The Pain Relief Center, we understand your pain and frustration. That’s why we give it our all to provide you with compassionate treatment and pain management. We treat a wide array of conditions, and are skilled in all manner of treatment options. If you suffer from back pain, joint pain, or other form of discomfort, please give us a call. Schedule your consultation at 214-709-1904 or visit our website to fill out our online intake form. Our back care specialist will get you back on your feet in no time.


The most critical step on the path to recovery is finding a pain management doctor who can address your pain management needs successfully. The Pain Relief Center and its five specialized institutes are dedicated to meeting any and all of a patient’s needs. Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Dr. Rodriguez and his friendly staff will help you along the path to recovery.

Our new center in Dallas is part of a nationwide development by Pain Relief Centers, geared to providing individualized and comprehensive healing and pain management services with unprecedented levels of compassion, care, and comfort for each patient.

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