Trapezius Muscle Trigger PointsDo you have burning pain on both sides of your spine?  Does it look like the red pain pattern on the right side of the picture?  It may be the trapezius muscle.  As you see, there is one on each half of your body.

The trapezius muscles can cause pain on the tops of the shoulders, near the spine, on the inner side of the shoulder blade toward the spine and even on the back of your skull!

This picture shows trigger points.  The trigger points are the X‘s.  Those are the places to apply pressure (approximately) in order to get rid of the red areas.  The red areas indicate painful areas.

If your shoulder pain pattern is approximately where any of the the red is in the picture, applying pressure to the appropriate X may help get rid of the pain between your spine and shoulder blade!

Here are directions for using tennis ball therapy to apply pressure to get rid of the burning pain in your back.  I prefer to lie on the ball and let gravity work.  Just lie on the most tender place for about 5 minutes.  By then you should notice you feel the tennis ball less.  That means your muscles are relaxing.  Then find the next spot and repeat.

Or you could have a skilled massage therapist release your trapezius muscles along with any others that are causing pain in your back.

And here’s a little video that will give you an idea of how to use tennis ball therapy when you are standing: Back Pain Relief Video It will also give you a laugh and laughter is good medicine. :)

How did the trapezius muscle get aggravated? Perhaps it was the way you slept or worked one day. Maybe you held or propped your head in a forward, downward position that strained the muscles along your spine.

Or maybe you have ‘forward head’ posture.  That means you slouch and your heavy head pulls on the muscles in your upper back.  They don’t like that so they complain.

It’s important that you learn how to correct your posture if that’s the case.  There is a video in the Knots In Your Back program that will help you do just that easily.

Now you know what to do to get rid of the burning pain between your shoulders naturally when it’s caused by trigger points in your trapezius muscles.  🙂


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20 Comments on Burning Pain Between Your Spine And Shoulder Blade

  1. Cynthia says:

    Wow you know this worked so well I’m going to do this daily – I never figured it out but I make jewerly and of course I put my head and neck/back (hunched) forward and make jewerly so if you have any suggestions for my future of making jewerly please share as this is a hobby and really don’t want to stop. You’re a miracle worker for me because the ease throughout today after taking all of your advise the pain went from a constant 10 to a 3 and diffinitly will continue.

  2. Hi Cynthia,

    Terrific! And you are wise to realize that there is a reason for the burning pain you had between your spine and shoulder blades. Here’s what you can do without changing your passion: Take lots of breaks. Lots. Squeeze your shoulder blades to your shoulders. Lift your shoulders up and back, up and back. So it’s not just a ‘break’–it’s a stretch break. Lift your hands toward the ceiling and stretch, stretch, stretch.

    The idea is to strengthen your back and stretch the muscles in the front of your body. When your back is stronger it will be more able to hold its own when you work with your hands and head in front of you. 🙂

    Here is an article for you on strengthening your back easily: http://www.simplestrengthening.....traighter/

    Thank you so much for writing back to let me know of your success in getting rid of the pain in your upper back. Good job taking action!

    The Pain Relief Coach

  3. Cynthia says:

    Great advise!!! I have one more question I don’t mind standing when making my jewelry infact I’d rather stand than sit but what do you suggest so that I keep my muscles happy. 50% stand, 50% sit or 100% stand, 100% sit. I appreciate your suggestions. I have been doing the “noodle” stretch as well as the shoulder squeezes and arm stretches.

  4. Hi Cynthia,

    Thank you and you are welcome. 🙂 The more different positions you use, the happier your muscles will be. One way of standing comfortably while your are working (or washing dishes) is to place one foot on a little stool or step. Switch feet from time to time. And keep taking lots of stretch breaks.

    Also, you can look down with your eyes rather than tilting your whole head down. That will avoid neck strain.

    Thank you for writing,

    The Pain Relief Coach

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am in desperate need for an advice as to what to do with my back ache. I am in my late twenties and very very active. I never sit down to rest, I exercise a lot (running, jump rope, cross trainer) and also stretch and foam roll every day and do yoga (or at least I used to do all this before my back problems). Thinking about it I have been having a mild back pain on and off for a few months prior but nothing too worrying until about two months ago when my back pain was so severe that I could not stand up in one place for longer than a minute. I have seen my GP and a Physiotherapist who said that it is a muscle spasm from my lower back that also engages my upper back muscles. When I stand up in one place for a few minutes I can feel the muscles in my back tightening everywhere and burning between my shoulder blades. the pain depends on what position I am in but doing the foam roller I can feel strong pain around the kidney area and also the upper back (basically, my whole back). I have done a few sessions of acupuncture, manual release from physio and massage with wood lock, I stretch every day, I have decreased my exercises almost to nothing, I started to use the tennis ball as suggested in some of the articles, I have been taking ibuprofen, I rest, try to breathe into the pain area and nothing so far has brought a significant relief. I just don’t know what the problem is. I seem to be ok while walking and jogging ( I love running and now being so worried about this I am starting to feel depressed as I am not doing much exercising at all). The spasm seems to be worst in the morning when I spend at least an hour of stretching and still don’t feel much relief. The physiotherapist said that this is due to overuse of the back muscles, so I tried a few days of rest and then a bit of exercise and I somehow end up in the same curled up position. I have now read most articles online and feel helpless as I am so young and in so much debilitating pain. I am willing to try anything that might be helpful. Do you have any suggestions as to what else I can do or what exactly could be causing all this?
    I thought it may be due to bad posture (I tend to hunch) but the physiotherapist said that she doesn’t think that it is my posture. I also thought it might be some electrolyte imbalance but I do eat every healthy and have also started taking multivitamins.

    I would appreciate any input!

    Thank you!

  6. Dear Anon,

    Poor posture is to blame for a lot of back, neck and head pain and other problems, too. You end up in the same curled up position? Do you mean fetal position? That’s the same thing as poor posture for an adult in a laying down position. I wonder whether the physio meant overstretch of the back muscles rather than overuse?

    Is it worse in the morning as soon as you wake up or get out of bed? Is it your mattress or sleeping position?

    I understand your fear. The truth is that your youth is on your side. And you have good eating habits. Now you are taking multi-vitamins and minerals, too (right?) and that will help your muscles heal. What about your liquids? Water is the best. Soda depletes vitamins and minerals. I’m not a big fan of the sports drinks.

    Your description makes me think of latisimus spasm. Stretching is great but massage can get to the root of a problem much more quickly than stretching. Also, I wonder whether it’s the muscles that overlay your abdomen that are causing your back pain. Hmmm.

    When you curl up, your abdominals would be shortened and that would make your back feel better. Try this: Pick up the muscle on your abdomen just below your ribs on either side. Pinch it. Don’t lift just the skin; pick up the muscle. Tender? If so, hold it until the tenderness starts to subside. Explore both sides looking for tender areas by pinching and lifting the ab muscles. You may have trigger points in your abdominals that are causing your back pain.

    Hunching causes the abs to shorten. See what you can find on your abdominal muscles. If you bend slightly forward, they will be easier to pick up and pinch.

    My only other thought right now is to find an NMT (Neuromuscular Massage Therapist) trained by Paul St. John, preferably. That person should understand trigger points and postural distortion, both the causes and how to get rid of them. is in Florida but there are NMT therapists all over the US and Canada and some in other parts of the world.

    I hope this helps you get rid of the back pain. You seem to be doing all the right things. You just need a little more information or help right now. Soon you will be back to normal without this scary pain in your back.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  7. Anonymous says:

    Dear Kathryn,

    Thank you for your reply. Today has been a particularly difficult day! I can feel the muscles pulling now also in my shoulders and my neck. It felt like the pain was reaching the gums of my mouth. I took some ibuprofen but not much relief. It seems to be getting worse rather than better.

    Some reflective points to what you have said in your response:

    Poor posture is to blame for a lot of back, neck and head pain and other problems, too. I know that my posture is not ideal but I have been paying lots of attention to that lately and the physiotherapist was not convinced that this is the source of my problems. Would it be possible if my posture is not great that all of a sudden I get such unbearable back spasm?

    You end up in the same curled up position? Do you mean fetal position? When I sleep or am laying down, if I am on my back, I have a pillow under my knees. Mostly, I sleep on my sides with a pillow between my legs in a somewhat fetal position (not that curled up). I keep on coming across this position as one that is easier for the back and it doesn’t seem to engage my back muscles but I am curled up somewhat.

    I wonder whether the physio meant overstretch of the back muscles rather than overuse? They did say overuse, possibly a combination of doing lots of exercise and then house chores (grocery shopping and carrying heavy bags, using a shoulder hand bag which I have now replaced with a rucksack, cleaning, and cooking and other activities that make me stay stationary for a long period of time and engage my back muscles) without sitting down and resting much. Though, I try to get around 6-7 hours of sleep which I would think would be a good amount of time for recovery. But in general I am quite active throughout the day, I always find something to do.

    Is it worse in the morning as soon as you wake up or get out of bed? Is it your mattress or sleeping position? It feels worse when I am not moving much for a while (like after sleeping). My whole back is extremely stiff when I get out of bed (it feel like my muscles have turned into inflexible tissue). I seem to be ok pain-wise when sleeping. I did have my mattress changed as well. I mostly sleep on my sides with bent legs and a pillow between my legs, which I am trying to rest my arm on as well, as I have started to feel some pain in my wrist and forearm (thinking might be from applying pressure on my wrists when foam rolling, so being cautious of this now).

    Now you are taking multi-vitamins and minerals, too (right?) I am a health-nut, I am a vegetarian and mostly eat fruits, vegetables, tofu and beans/pulses. I drink water and decaf tea throughout the day, don’t remember the last time I had any soda. The multivitamins that I take have everything in them, just to rule our any nutritional imbalance.

    Also, I wonder whether it’s the muscles that overlay your abdomen that are causing your back pain. I used to do abdominal exercises every day but have stopped for a few weeks now. I think my superficial abdominal muscles are quite strong, so it is possible.

    You may have trigger points in your abdominals that are causing your back pain. I tried pinching my muscles but could not feel any particularly tender spots. I am not sure if I did not do it correctly but I think I did.

    I will look into NMT. I think I will go to my GP again tomorrow and explain how serious this is. I am in panic, I have never felt so much pain and helplessness. If it is a muscular thing alone, it should have at least started to get better by now. I have done a professional message following acupuncture as well, plus I use the foam roller and tennis ball to do it myself.

    Thank you again!

  8. Dear Anon,

    Here are my thoughts about your extreme back pain:

    1. If tests show nothing that is good. That almost always means it’s muscles and muscles are treatable naturally.

    2. From what I read, 8-10 hours of sleep is better.

    3. I’m not sure where or how you are using the foam roller. Are you doing this as an abdominal strengthening movement? Rolling forward with arms when you are on your knees? That could aggravate back muscles and wrists, too.

    4. I am also thinking now based on your responses that it may be your diaphragm muscle. It will cause back pain around mid-back when it is in spasm. It can be released. An NMT therapist would know how. It bisects your body from front to back and side to side and is tucked up into your ribs.

    5. A good time to try to pinch your abs would be when you are curled up. That makes them shorter and easier to grasp. Pretend you are picking up a garden hose.

    6. All massage is not created equally. And each therapist has her or his unique way of looking at a problem…or not.

    7. When you sleep curled up, your head is probably curled forward, too? That can cause hand & arm pain because it puts pressure on nerves and structures in the neck (which, in turn, cause hand and arm pain.) More info at Look at the Causes Category.

    I hope this gives you something helpful so that you can get rid of the severe pain in your back. And remember, I’m not a doctor. 🙂

    8. Only because I just read an article about a man whose back pain was caused by a tumor in his spine, ask your doctor whether you need testing to rule that out. That is rare.

    I wish you the best getting rid of this back pain. Please keep me updated on your progress and any further questions.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  9. Anonymous says:

    Dear Kathryn,

    Thank you again for your response. I will try to see my GP today and will keep you updated!

    Hope next time I write it will be with a more positive attitude 🙂

  10. amanda says:

    You are the best! Thank you so much for this! I am so grateful for your article. Lying on the tennis ball and all I can think to say is Thank you!

  11. Hi Amanda, You’re welcome. And thank you for taking action and getting rid of the knots in your back. 🙂

    The Pain Relief Coach

  12. Hi Anon, You’re welcome. I hope it will end up being an easy fix. Looking forward to your update.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  13. Chris B says:

    I’ve been having severe back pain between my shoulder blades lately. I never thought it could be how I’m sleeping. Thanks for the tips. I also spend way too much time on my iPhone, looking down. I’m willing to change that if it brings relief. I had already considered posture might be the problem. Thank you for your insights.
    Question: Can severe allergies and sinus congestion contribute to neck and back pain?

  14. Hi Chris, If your allergies or sinus issues cause you to place your head and neck in ‘unusual’ positions, or if you allow your head to fling forward when blowing your nose or sneezing, then I’m voting yes: Your allergies and sinus congestion could contribute to neck and upper back pain. Keeping your head in a neutral standing, sitting and sleeping position and stabilizing your head when sneezing can help, if that’s the case.

    You are welcome for the tips! Lots of times people don’t realize that they may be doing something that causes their pain. Strengthening the muscles between your shoulder blades will help you, too.

    Thank you for asking and take good care of your back.

    The Pain Relief Coach

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  16. Rizwan Maroof says:

    Me suffering from the same triggered pains since last 12 years. Might be bad sleeping posture at the same time excessive computer usage(postural problem). Not even releived by pressures, massages and even medication. Though temporary relief from Diclofenac Sodium or Methyl Salycilates. Not relieved completely. Sometimes, I couldn’t sleep at all due to intense pain. I belief tennis ball therapy shall be of no use to me. However, shall try. Any other option is welcomed

  17. Okay, RM, here is another option.

    I suspect you may be right–the tennis ball may not help. Why? Because you have already found the problem! 🙂 Your posture is slumped forward. That posture strains the muscles in your back and neck.

    Massage might help for a very short time if someone rubs the area that hurts. Or it may not help at all. However, if you can find a therapist who will work on the shortened muscles in the front of your neck, your chest, abdomen and thighs (they are all shortened due to slumped posture) it will help you correct your posture. Better posture means less pain!

    Or, if you cannot find such a therapist, you can do the following: Stretch (carefully and thoughtfully) to lengthen the front of your body. Strengthen the back of your body. Please go to to find articles that I wrote about how to strengthen your back.

    I created the Knots In Your Back program to help people understand why they have those miserable knots and how to get rid of them. In a nutshell, make your back stronger. Lengthen the front of your body.

    If you can change your sleeping posture, please do. Better to sleep stretched out on your back than curled in a ball. You need a little support under your neck but if you can sleep without pushing your head forward on a pillow, that’s ideal. If you push your head forward all night and then slouch all day, it makes it really hard to be pain-free. When your back gets stronger, you will be able to be in better posture when you work. (It will take practice and straightening up over and over and over.)

    Bodies are logical and you have already figured out the cause of your pain. Now take action! And thank you for writing.

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  19. sarah says:

    I am constantly looking at my phone – watching movies, FB, looking at directions and walking around! I do a lot of microscope work at my job – looking down into the scope all the time! WOW this post describes my pain exactly. And I can look down and really feel my traps being pulled. Thank you so much! Those pressure points make it feel so much better. I will work on my posture more and more. It feels great to read something that is so on point to my issue.

  20. Hi Sarah, You are very welcome and thank you for letting me know that you have figured out the cause of your pain! Good job paying attention to your body. 🙂 You can look down with your eyes rather than by tilting your head, too. Keep taking good care of you!

    The Pain Relief Coach