The Mystery Behind Rhomboid Pain

Symptoms and diagnosis for Rhomboid pain
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By Orthopaedic and Neurology Clinic

Rhomboid Pain Main

What is define by a Rhomboid Pain?

The rhomboid muscle is located in the upper back. It helps connect the shoulder blades to the rib cage and spine. 

Rhomboid pain is felt under the neck between the shoulder blades and spine. It’s sometimes referred to as shoulder blade pain or upper back pain. You may feel pain in this area as a strain, a shooting pain, or some type of spasm. Other symptoms of rhomboid muscle pain may include:

  • tenderness in the upper back area
  • a popping or grinding noise when you move the shoulder blade
  • tightness, swelling, and muscle knots around the muscle
  • loss of movement, or difficulty or pain when moving the muscle
  • pain when breathing

Rhomboid muscle pain can also cause pain in the mid-upper back, at the backs of the shoulders, or between the spine and the shoulder blade. It can also be felt in the region above the shoulder blade.

What are some causes of Rhomboid Pain?

Pain in your rhomboid muscle or your upper back and shoulders can be caused by many things, including an injury, a strain, or overuse. 

Rhomboid muscle pain can happen from:

  • Bad posture, especially sitting hunched at your computer for too long
  • Rowing motions
  • Pulling motions
  • Repetitive motions 
  • Throwing motions 
  • Pushups
  • Working out your shoulders and back with weights
  • Injury

Some health conditions can also cause rhomboid muscle pain. If you have joint problems in your shoulder, the surrounding muscles might be affected. 

MyositisThis condition can cause muscle weakness and inflammation. It usually shows up first in your shoulders and hips. 

Polymyalgia rheumaticaThis is a disorder that causes shoulder and hip pain and stiffness. It typically affects people over age 50. The pain and stiffness may be worse in the mornings and affect both sides of your body.‌

Rheumatoid arthritis. This is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your joints. It usually causes a lot of pain and swelling and can lead to joint deformities. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect your shoulders, which might also impact your rhomboid muscles.‌

Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative bone disease that causes loss of cartilage. This can cause pain and stiffness. You might not have much movement in your shoulder, which can cause discomfort in the surrounding muscles.


“Due to our daily living posture requirements we end up by developing wrong postural habits. All the wrong habits will lead up to a rounded shoulders and text neck position, which eventually will end up with weak and inhibited rhomboids causing interscapular pain.”

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What types of diagnosis?

When seeing our doctor for your yet undiagnosed rhomboid muscle pain, he will ask you in detail where your pain is felt, what makes it worse, and what makes it better. This will give the Specialist a better idea of where the pain is located. A brief medical history will also be taken to rule out any underlying causes.

Our doctor will inspect the area, looking for any signs of bruising on the upper back. They will then ask you to move your arms and shoulders to see exactly how the rhomboid strain is produced and which areas of the upper back show tightness and tenderness.

How long does it take to recover?

The amount of time it takes to recover from rhomboid muscle pain will depend on how severe the strain is. Most mild strains will heal within three weeks. More serious strains can take several months to heal.

It’s important to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting during recovery. Slowly return to your activities once you feel fully healed. Pay careful attention to how your body responds to activities after a period of rest. Notice if there’s any discomfort or pain, and respond accordingly.

See our doctor if you don’t see improvements or pain is affected by sleeping posture. Physical therapy may be recommended for chronic strains.

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