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Rhomboid Major and Rhomboid Minor Muscles: Grinding Popping Shoulder

Areas of pain contributed to the Rhomboid muscles

Pain around the inside of the shoulder blade indicates rhomboid muscle dysfunction.

  • Pain along the inside of the shoulder blade especially noticeable at rest.
  • Popping and/or grinding noise when moving the shoulder blade
  • Inability to straighten the upper body out of a slumped position

Where are the rhomboid major and minor muscle located?

  • The rhomboid major connects the upper back vertebrae (T2-T5) to the shoulder blade (scapula).
  • The rhomboid minor connects bottom neck vertebrae (C7)  to the and the first upper back vertebra (T1) to the shoulder blade (scapula).

What movements do the rhomboid muscles control?

  • Pulls the shoulder blade toward the spine
  • Stabilizes the shoulder blade
  • Raises the shoulder blade

Activities that can cause rhomboid muscle pain:

  • Activities that require continuously or repeatedly raising the shoulders
  • Hanging wallpaper
  • Rowing
  • Throwing a ball
  • Pull Ups
  • Extended work at the computer
  • Military posture: standing with extremely straight posture with shoulders pulled back, chest thrust forward.

Interesting facts about the rhomboid muscles:

  • Pain in the upper back is often contributed to the rhomboid muscles. However many times it is actually the pectoralis major and minor which actually causes the pain in the rhomboids. The pectoral muscles (upper chest muscle) shortens pulling the shoulders forward (rounded shoulder posture) which over stretches the rhomboid muscles in the back making the rhomboids painful. Treating and elongating the pectoral muscles will often reduce or eliminate upper back pain.
  • The rhomboids are often called the Christmas tree muscles. Their connections on the lower neck and upper back extending to the shoulder blade give them a distinct triangular shape which looks like a Christmas tree on muscle diagrams.
Rhomboid Major and Rhomboid Minor Muscles

The rhomboid major and rhomboid minor muscles raise the shoulder blade and pull the shoulder blade toward the spine.

Clinical diagnoses to which the rhomboid major and rhomboid minor muscles symptoms may contribute:

  • Scapulocostal syndrome
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Stenosis
  • Pleurisy
  • Sprain/Strain syndrome
  • C4, C5,  C6,  C7,  C8,  T1, T2 radiculopathy

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the rhomboid major and minor:

Affected Organ System: Respiratory

Satellite Trigger Points: Levator scapulae, Infraspinatus, Pectoralis major, Latissimus dorsi, Serratus anterior, Scalenes

For detailed anatomy information: Rhomboid Major and Rhomboid Minor Anatomy

Help with Rhomboid Muscle Pain and Symptoms

Cold Therapy Gel For Rhomboid Muscle Injury and Pain

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel that I use on clients with recent injuries and muscles and joints that are swollen. Cold therapy gel works like ice and does not promote swelling. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 - 10 longer. If your pain is from a recently strained rhomboid muscle I would recommend Biofreeze. Rub the gel down the upper back and out to the shoulder blade to treat rhomboid pain.

Biofreeze is recommended for recent muscle injury

Warm Therapy Gel for Rhomboid Muscle and Upper Back Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that I use both personally and professionally in my massage therapy practice. Unlike other over the counter heating creams, it provides warmth without burning heat. If your upper back pain is caused by arthritis in the upper back and shoulder area, or if there has been a recent strain / sprain to the rhomboid apply Sombra to the upper back area for pain relieve. If you are dealing with constant chronic upper back pain and have a slumping upper body posture or rounded shoulder posture, then also treat the chest muscles and the front and back of the shoulders. I recommend Sombra for chronic pain and chronically sore tight muscles.

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel provides rhomboid muscle pain relief.

Hot Cold Pack For Pain and Relaxation

SofTouch Large Hot Cold Pack is a large pack that can be used for hot or cold treatment. The pack is large enough to cover most of the back. It can also be laid across the to relax chest pectoral muscles which can also help relieve upper back pain.

The inside of the pack contains a clay-like substance that remains soft and pliable so you can mold the pack to your body. The outside of the pack is wrapped with soft suede like material that does not shock the skin when touched. My clients love this pack and it is now the only hot and cold pack that I use in my massage therapy practice.

The Softouch Pack provides soothing heat therapy for rhomboid major and rhomboid minor pain.

Relax and Stretch The Pectoral and Neck Muscles To Help Rhomboid Upper Back and Shoulder Pain

Soothe-a-ciser: Relief for neck and shoulder pain helps relieve pressure and pain in the neck and shoulders. 10 - 15 minutes laying on the pillow allows muscles in the neck, chest, shoulders and upper back to relax. It can relieve or even stop some headaches. It can work especially well for those with tight painful rhomboid muscles, pectoral (chest) muscles, and people who have slumping upper posture or rounded shoulders. A great pillow for people who work at desks and computers!

The Soothe-a-ciser provides proper alignment and a gentle stretch to help relieve rhomboid muscle pain.

Braces and Support for Rhomboid Muscles

Rounded shoulders and slumping upper body posture are often caused by shortened tight pectoralis muscles which over stretches upper back muscles causing sore and painful upper back muscles.

ShouldersBack Posture Support gently pulls your shoulders back helping you maintain straight correct posture while stretching and elongating the chest muscles.

I use this brace myself when I begin to feel twinges of pain in my shoulders and upper back. I have recommended it to family, friends, and clients who have pain due to a slumping upper body and rounded shoulder posture. If you have rounded shoulders, begin using the brace slowly for short periods of time. As your body adjusts, you can tighten the support and use it for longer time periods. This brace is not a rigid support, you can still move comfortably and freely, it does not forcibly hold your shoulders down and back.

The EquiFit ShouldersBack posture support can help with rhomboid muscle pain by helping you maintain proper posture.

Self Treatment Help For Upper Back Muscle Pain Caused By Rhomboid Major and Minor Muscles

Do you know that the rhomboid muscles contribute to pain in the upper back around the shoulder blade? They are also often the cause of a grinding feel and popping noise when the shoulder blade moves.

If you are suffering from unresolved pain around or under the shoulder blade consider purchasing Claire Davies The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language. But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain, how to find the trigger point and treat it. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body.If you are suffering from unrelenting shoulder and upper back pain treating the trigger points in the rhomboids and pectoral muscles can help reduce or eliminate your pain. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.

The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.

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