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Rhomboid Pain: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment


Rhomboid Pain: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment


Shoulder pain is a common problem faced by a significant number of people. This pain is more often reported. Approximately 18-26% of adults experience shoulder pain at any time of age. The intensity of your pain may vary depending on various factors such as Treatment includes rest, physiotherapy, and self-care measures like ice packs and OTC painkillers. The rhomboid major and minor muscles, crucial for shoulder stability and movement, can suffer injury leading to winged scapula. Recovery time varies based on severity, with prevention strategies including proper warm-up and posture maintenance.Top of Form

Association between shoulder pain and rhomboid pain:

Rhomboid pain and shoulder pain are closely related due to the anatomical proximity and inter-connectedness of the muscles and structures in the upper back and shoulder region. While rhomboid pain specifically refers to discomfort in the area of the rhomboid muscles (located between the shoulder blades), shoulder pain can encompass a broader range of issues affecting the shoulder joint, surrounding muscles, and associated structures.

What is rhomboid pain?

Rhomboid pain is the sensation of tenderness and discomfort you experience in the area of the rhomboid muscles, which is located in the upper back between the shoulder blades. The rhomboid muscles consist of the rhomboid major and rhomboid minor, and they play a role in stabilizing and moving the shoulder blades. Rhomboid pain can vary in intensity, and you may feel an ache, dullness, stiffness, or sharp pain in the upper back region.


What are the symptoms of rhomboid pain?

The symptoms of rhomboid pain or injury are:

  • Trouble moving your shoulder
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Sharp pain and stiffness in the muscles of the upper back

You may feel the presence of a lump under the skin


What causes rhomboid pain?

Certain activities can injure your rhomboid muscles that push overwork your shoulders, arms, and back such as:

  • If you carry a heavy backpack
  • If you repetitively do certain sports movements, for example serving a tennis ball or volleyball, throwing a baseball, swinging a golf club, or rowing
  • Drooping while you work at a computer or desk can also hurt these muscles
  • If you overuse your muscle
  • If you drink less fluids
  • If you stay in the same position for a long


What are the risks of rhomboid pain?

These habits can lead to injure your rhomboid muscles:

  • If your muscles are overtired
  • If you don’t properly warm up before you play sports
  • If your muscles are weaker because you haven’t exercised or played in a long time


What are the treatment options for rhomboid pain?

  • The first thing you can do to relieve rhomboid pain is to stop the activity that caused the injury.
  • It is important to allow injured muscles to rest promote healing and relieve pain. Your healthcare provider can suggest the optimal amount of time needed for recovery.
  • Physiotherapy can also assist in healing rhomboid pain. The therapist can teach you specific exercises to help regain strength and movement in the affected muscle. Massage with a foam roller can also help heal your injury, as it may help work on knots in the muscles.

What can I do to relieve my rhomboid pain?

You can practice these self-care remedies including:

  • Keep an ice pack under the affected area with every 2-3 hours. You need to keep this ice pack on your muscles for at least 15-20 minutes. It works best just after the injury or within 24 hours. It helps in lessening the numb pain and inflammation.
  • You can take OTC (over-the-counter) painkillers for example acetaminophen (Tylenol), naproxen (Aleve), or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
  • If you experience muscle spasms or continue to feel the tightness for a couple of days just after the injury, keep a moist heating or wet washcloth pad on your back for 15-29 minutes at a time.  

What are the rhomboid minor and rhomboid major and their functions?

The rhomboids are a set of muscles, including the rhomboid major and minor, crucial for upper limb movement and stabilizing the shoulder girdle and scapula. Innervated by the dorsal scapular nerve and supplied by the dorsal scapular artery, they rarely exhibit variants in musculature. Clinical pathologies like winged scapula and rhomboid palsy are associated with them but surgeries on these muscles are uncommon.

The rhomboid minor originates from the ligamentum nuchae and vertebrae C7 and T1, inserted near the spine's base on the scapula's medial border. Below it lies the rhomboid major, originating from the T2-T5 vertebrae and inserted just below the rhomboid minor on the scapula's medial border.

Together with other muscles, the rhomboids help shape the shoulder girdle, enabling upper extremity movement and shoulder stability by retracting, elevating, and rotating the scapula. Dysfunction or nerve issues in these muscles can cause the scapula's medial border to protrude, leading to winged scapula and inferior scapular angle rotation.

Furthermore, the rhomboids are essential for actions like pulling and play a significant role in throwing and overhead arm movements.

How much time it will take to recover from rhomboid pain?

The recovery time depends on the severity of your injury. Severe injuries may take weeks, or maybe even months whereas, mild rhomboid injuries might take some days to heal.


How can I prevent rhomboid pain?

You can prevent rhomboid pain by following these suggestions such as:

  • Take breaks while playing sports to prevent overusing your shoulder or arm muscles.
  • It's best to stretch for a few minutes afterward and warm up for at least 5-10 minutes before playing sports or exercising.
  • To ensure you are doing it correctly, it's advisable to hire a coach to check your serve, golf swing, or pitch.
  • Drink plenty of water during, and after workouts and spots can help prevent rhomboid pain.
  • Sit upright when working on a computer. If you tend to slouch, use an ergonomic chair and adjust it, so that the back supports your back and keeps it straight.


Most people confused with rhomboid pain and shoulder pain. Work at a computer increase the chance of having these pains especially rhomboid pain.

If you are experiencing prolong pain and not improving, set an appointment with your healthcare provider or orthopedic specialist. Some time surgery is required and other clinical interventions if severe injuries occur.   

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