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Latissimus Dorsi Muscle: Shoulder, Arm, Low Abdominal, Pain

(Last Updated On: August 9, 2018)

Pain in the shoulder, upper arm, lower abdominal area, hand, and difficulty breathing can signal latissimus dorsi muscle dysfunction. Pain in the low back around the top of the hip bone can also be a result of a lat dorsi strain

What are the pain and symptoms associated with the latissimus dorsi muscle?

  • Pain is felt in the mid-back especially below the bottom of the shoulder blade.
  • Pain is felt in the front of the shoulder.
  • Pain in the side and or mid-back similar to a side stitch.
  • Numbness, tingling and/or aching that extends down the arm to the little finger and often the ring finger.
  • Pain while reaching forward with the arms
  • Pain when lifting arms overhead
  • Can contribute to breathing difficulty.
  • Pain does not worsen with activity nor does it ease at rest, it is steady and constant.

Where is the latissimus dorsi muscle?

The latissimus dorsi is a large wide muscle that covers the lower half of the back and side of the ribcage. It tapers traveling up under the shoulder blade to connect to the upper arm.

What movements do the latissimus dorsi muscle control?

  • Primary Actions:
    • Pulls arm down when arm is lifted above the head
    • Moves arm into toward the body and across the body
    • Moves arm back down to the side of the body when arm is lifted out to the side
    • Pulls arm back down toward the body when arm is lifted out in front of the body
    • Twists arm inward toward the body
  • Assists with these actions:
    • Bending and straightening of the trunk
    • Side bending at the waist
    • Breathing
    • Tilting hips forward, back, and side to side

Activities that can cause latissimus dorsi pain:

  • Activities that require continuously or repeatedly raising the shoulders
  • Gymnastics
  • Rowing
  • Throwing or pitching a ball
  • Swimming
  • Swinging a baseball bat
  • Swinging a tennis racket
  • Shoveling dirt or snow
  • Chopping wood
  • Exercise that requires pulling up (chin up) or pushing down (push-ups) with the arms
  • Reaching forward or overhead repetitiously
Latissimus Dorsi Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

The lats are responsible for the movement of the arms, bending at the waist, and tilting the hips.

Interesting Facts about latissimus dorsi:

  • Is the widest muscle in the human body
  • Known as the swimmer’s muscle
  • When a flap of muscle tissue is needed for reconstructive surgery, the tissue needed is often taken from the latissimus dorsi.

Clinical Diagnoses To Which The Latissimus Dorsi Muscle May Contribute:

  • C6 C7 or C8 radiculopathy
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Brachial Plexus Entrapment
  • Adhesive Capsulitis
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Bicipital tendinitis
  • Rib Pain
  • Slipped Rib Syndrome
  • Gallbladder Pain
  • Spleen Pain
  • Liver Pain
  • Kidney Pain

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the latissimus dorsi:

Satellite trigger points associated with the latissimus dorsi :

  • Pectoralis major
  • Teres major
  • Subscapularis
  • Triceps brachii
  • Scalenes
  • Rectus abdominis
  • Iliocostalis
  • Serratus anterior
  • Serratus posterior superior
  • Serratus posterior inferior
  • Trapezius
  • Rhomboid Major
  • Rhomboid Minor

For detailed anatomy information:   Latissimus Dorsi Anatomy

Help with Latissimus Dorsi Muscle Pain and Symptoms

Cold Therapy Gel For Latissimus Dorsi Pain and Symptoms

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel and I recommend it for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries. It is better to use than warm therapy gels and creams for muscle pain caused by inflammation as it cools the area much like ice. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. For latissimus dorsi pain and injury, rub Biofreeze into the shoulder, down the back to the top of the hip bones, and into the side of the rib cage.

Hot Cold Pack For Latissimus Dorsi Treatment

CorPak Soft Comfort Hot & Cold Pack Wrap is a large pack that can be used for hot or cold treatment. The pack is large enough to cover the latissimus dorsi muscle. The pack also works well to wrap the shoulder front to back. The inside of the pack contains a gel 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. To treat the latissimus dorsi muscle use the large pack and lay the pack just under the shoulder blade and allow the pack to cover the side of the body.

Warm Therapy Gel for Shoulder, Back, and Arm Muscle Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a warming gel that I use both personally and professionally in my massage therapy practice. Unlike many other over the counter heating creams, it provides warmth without burning heat. Applying Sombra to the muscles around the shoulder blade down the back to the top of the hip bones will help reduce tension and  pain caused by the latissimus dorsi muscle. Sombra can also bring relief to rib pain and in some cases help with breathing. Rub the gel around the sides of the ribcage and across the back to the spine.

Recommended Back Support Low Back Pain - Helps With Low Back, Side, and Abdominal Pain

The name Professionals Choice name is well known in the horse industry and is highly regarded for their top quality products that work. This brace can help with latissimus dorsi pain in the lower ribs, lower abdominal area, and low back by providing support and compression to those areas.

Professionals Choice Comfort Fit Low Back Support is my personal go to back brace. This brace has helped me more than any other with low back and low abdominal pain. The lumbar pad provides support without the uncomfortable restriction and poking of metal supports. The band is wide, covering the entire lower back.  It has an adjustable Velcro front closure along with adjustable Velcro side panels which can be tightened or loosened to provide support and compression.  The brace also reflects your body heat back into the muscles, providing warmth to tight sore muscles. For those with recent injuries or chronic flare ups, it is comfortable enough wear all night and will not disrupt your sleep.

The brace is made of closed-cell, limestone-based Neoprene which is extremely durable and resilient. The brace retains its shape over years of use and does not absorb moisture.  It can be machined washed on the gentle cycle.

I have recommended this brace to many clients and friends with chronic low back pain and everyone has commented how much it helps relieve their pain and helps with mobility. As with other back braces, it may not help much with sciatica pain, but it can provide additional support and warmth to low back muscles which may bring some relief. But if you have muscle, tendon or ligament injuries, new or old, I highly recommend that you try this brace!

The brace can help reduce pain from the latissimus dorsi muscle by providing support and compression to the abdominal and low back muscles.

Small and Medium fits waists 22" - 38". Large fits waists 24" - 40". X-large fits waists 41" - 50. XX-large fits waists 51" - 60".

Self Treatment for Shoulder, Arm and Back Pain

Do you know that small muscle 'knots' and other dysfunction in the latissimus dorsi muscle can contribute to  pain from the shoulders down into the hand, the upper back, lower back and even the lower abdomen?  This pain can also add to breathing difficulty.  

If you experiencing a combination of these symptoms, I  recommend you purchase 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. If you suffer from unresolved upper back, arm or lower abdominal and lower back pain I highly recommend this book. 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. Relieving trigger points have helped many people resolve their pain issues. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.

The Thera Cane Massager is the tool that I recommend to purchase with the Trigger Point Workbook.  The Thera Cane allows you to easily treat all muscles of the body, including back muscles. If you have weak or arthritic hands, you may need a tool to help you use and hold the pressure required for trigger point treatment.  If you are buying the workbook, the Thera Cane is worth the investment!