Your rhomboid muscles are located in the upper portion of your back. They help connect your shoulder blades to the rib cage and spine. Made up of two muscles, your rhomboid major and you rhomboid minor have 3 key functions:
- To assist in maintaining good posture,
- To help adduct your arm and pull the shoulder blade medially towards your spine and,
- To help to stabilize your shoulder blade when your upper arms are shoulder blades are moving
Rhomboid pain is usually felt below your neck between your shoulder blades and spine. The pain may refer as generalized upper or mid back pain or shoulder blade pain. You may experience rhomboid pain as a strain, spasm or shooting pain.
5 Common Rhomboid Muscle Pain Symptoms Include:
- Pain, loss of movement and difficulty when adducting the arm outwards
- A constant burning pain in your upper and/or mid back, between your shoulder blades, when breathing
- A grinding, or popping, sound when you move your shoulder blade
- Tightness, swelling and/or sore, palpable knots in the muscle tissue
- Tenderness in the upper and mid back region, between the shoulder blades
Rhomboid pain can result for many reasons. Common causes include:
- Overuse of your rhomboid muscles in activities such as carrying heavy objects, or repetitive overhead movements
- Poor or incorrect posture
- Poor sleeping postures, sleeping on your side
- Sitting for extended periods of time, and/or
- Acute injuries including strains, tears or overstretching
How to get rhomboid pain relief?
Visit a Soft Tissue Occupational Therapist…
A visit to a Soft Tissue Occupational Therapist can assist in the treatment of your rhomboid pain. A soft tissue occupational therapist will conduct an assessment to determine the cause of the pain and then provide hands-on neuromuscular techniques, such as trigger point therapy, dry needling or myofascial release to improve functioning of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. These neuromuscular techniques work to break down fibrous adhesions, releasing tight muscles and correcting improper muscle functioning and postures. Soft tissue occupational therapists will also work to develop and recommend stretching and strengthening regimes to assist in alleviating symptoms and prevent recurring of your rhomboid pain. An occupational therapist will look to explore lifestyle factors, such as sleep positioning or workplace ergonomics, which may be contributing to your rhomboid pain and set up an individualized treatment plan that reduces your symptoms. A soft tissue occupational therapist may employ or recommend a number of treatment techniques to help relieve your rhomboid pain, these may include:
Trigger Point Release
Trigger point therapy involves the application of firm pressure to a hyperirritable spot or taut band, known as a trigger point. This pressure works to release tension in the muscle, by decreasing the blood flow to the area, and decrease the pressure felt. As the pressure is removed, blood flows back to the area and flushes any toxins released by the muscle. These points and can often refer pain to other parts of the body, lasting a few seconds.
Dry needling is a technique that can be used to reduce muscle restriction by releasing trigger points (see above) with acupuncture needles. A Soft tissue Occupational Therapist will use individually packed sterilised acupuncture needles to directly ‘needle’ the trigger point and produce a local response within the muscle, which then quickly dissipates and allows the muscle to relax.
Myofascial release is a manipulative treatment that attempts to release tension in the fascia due to trauma, posture, or inflammation. Connective tissues called fascia surround the muscles, bones, nerves, and organs of the body. Points of restriction in the fascia can place a great deal of pressure on nerves and muscles causing chronic pain. A soft tissue occupational therapist will employ long stretching strokes meant to balance tissue and muscle mechanics and improve joint range of motion in order to relieve pain.
Applying heat to your painful rhomboid muscles through the use of a heat pack may help to alleviate the pain. Heat is an inexpensive, effective form of pain relief that works by increases blood flow to the area, relaxing muscles and increasing range of movement and flexibility. By increasing the circulation and blood flow throughout the area, injury healing properties are delivered to the muscles, aiding in repair, and reducing the symptoms of rhomboid pain.
Stretching and Strengthening
It may be tempting to simply lie down and wait for your rhomboid pain to relieve itself. When in reality that just won’t happen, gentle exercise and stretching is more likely to assist in relieving pain and can help speed up your recovery. Gentle stretching may decrease the pain associated with rhomboid pain by encouraging circulation and blood flow to tissues, reducing muscle stiffness and spasm. Your Soft Tissue Occupational Therapist may recommend a stretching and strengthening regime, which you will be able to do at home. It is best to consult your Soft Tissue Occupational Therapist before engaging in this program to avoid further aggravating your rhomboid pain.
Stretches that may help to relieve your rhomboid pain include:
- Shoulder Blade Squeeze
- Rhomboid Stretch
- Side Arm Stretch
- Upper Back And Neck Stretch
- Neck Rotations
At Infused Health our highly trained Soft Tissue Occupational Therapists will use a hands on approach to help treat your injuries, conditions or any concerns you may have. You can make an appointment today by calling 0401 876 623.