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Health and Fitness

How to identify Rhomboid Muscle pain?

This muscle is located in the upper back. It helps connect the shoulder blades to the rib cage and spine. However, Rhomboid Muscle plays an important role in maintaining good posture.

What is the Structure or Function Of a Rhomboid Muscle?

The rhomboids consist of two separate muscles; the major and minor muscles which are found immediately deep to the trapezius. The origin of the rhomboid muscles is from the spinous processes of the vertebra and inserts on the medial border of the scapula, just inferior to the rhomboid minor. The rhomboids, with the assistance of many other muscles, help form the shoulder girdle. This group of muscles is important for the movement of the upper extremity and stabilization of the shoulder through articulation with the trunk.

Functionally, the rhomboid muscles retract, elevate and rotate the scapula. They also protract the medial border of the scapula, keeping it in position at the posterior thoracic wall. Dysfunction, weakness, or loss of nerve function to the rhomboids causes winging of the medial border of the scapula and inferior scapular angle rotation.

However, rhomboids are also vital to actions such as pulling and have been shown to play a large role in throwing and overhead arm movement.

How To Identify Rhomboid Muscle pain?

Rhomboid Muscle 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.

However, Other symptoms of rhomboid muscle pain may include:

  • Dorsalgia (Back Pain)
  • 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.

However, Rhomboid muscle pain can also cause pain in the mid-upper back commonly known as Dorsalgia, 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 causes Rhomboid Muscle pain?

You may develop Rhomboid Muscle pain as a result of:

  • Poor or incorrect posture.
  • Sitting for extended periods.
  • Injuries from straining, overstretching or tearing the muscles.
  • Seeping on your side.

Overuse of the rhomboid muscle can lead to pain in the shoulders and arms. However, sports such as tennis, golf, and rowing can cause pain in this area. Activities and work that require you to extend your arms over the head for a long time, carrying heavy bags and backpacks, and lifting heavy objects can also cause this type of pain.

What is the Treatment?

A mild rhomboid strain can heal in as little as a few weeks. A more serious injury, strain, or tear can take longer to heal.‌ However, there are some things you can do at home to help manage your pain:

  • Ice your shoulder.
  • Alternate ice with heat packs if there’s no swelling.
  • Use pain relievers like acetaminophen.
  • Use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Keep your shoulder and arm down.
  • Rhomboid Exercises.
  • Sit up straight.
  • Use a topical pain cream.
  • Get a massage‌.

You can also try stretching out your muscles with different techniques:

Tennis ball. Lay down on the floor and place a tennis ball under your shoulder. Gently roll your shoulder back and forth across the ball. Change positions and repeat. 

Foam roller. Lay on the floor and roll your shoulder over a foam roller. This will help loosen and massage the muscles.‌

Self-massager tool. You can buy an electric or battery-operated tool to massage your shoulder. Don’t use high settings that might make it too painful.‌

Warm-up stretches. If you are working out or doing sports, you can help protect your muscles by warming up and stretching before and after exercise. If your muscles are sore from a recent workout, allow them to rest and focus on a different set of muscles. 

Taking breaks. If you work at a computer and sit most of the day, take lots of breaks. Stand up, move around, and do some stretches. 

Better posture. Find an office chair that has a tall back and sit all the way back with your shoulders against the chair. Keeping your feet on a stool can also help you keep good posture.

Which Rhomboid Exercises are helpful?

These five exercises help strengthen the rhomboid muscles and improve your posture.

  • Prone lateral raise. Lie flat on your stomach on a mat or bench.
  • Front raise thumbs up. Lie down on your stomach on a mat or bench with your forehead resting down.
  • Scapular retraction.
  • Rear delt flys.
  • Scapular wall slides.

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.

However, It’s important to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting during recovery. Slowly return to your activities once you feel fully healed. However, 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.

What are the Surgical Considerations?

Surgical intervention of the rhomboid muscles is rare. However, it may be required in some cases. Rhomboid muscle flaps can be used in the treatment of head and neck cancers, esophagus reconstruction, mandibular defects, and congenital elevation of the scapula. Additionally, severe winging of the scapula due to weakened rhomboid muscles may be corrected by using fascia lata grafts.

Although not specifically surgical, ultrasound-guided injections into the rhomboids have also been shown to be more effective than superficial trapezius injections for pain and disability.

How to prevent Rhomboid Muscle pain?

There are steps you can take to prevent rhomboid muscle pain from happening in the future. Here are a few tips and guidelines:

  • Always warm-up before a workout and cool down afterward.
  • Practice proper technique when playing sports.
  • Take a break from exercise and activities when you feel sore or tired.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects, and use proper form when you do.
  • Carry heavy backpacks on both shoulders, not one.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. 

However, Rhomboid Exercise and regular stretching help to stay in shape.

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