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A Torn Muscle in the Upper Back

author image Nancy Clarke
Nancy Clarke began writing in 1988 after achieving her Bachelor of Arts in English and has edited books on medicine, diet, senior care and other health topics. Her related affiliations include work for the American Medical Association and Oregon Health Plan.

How It Happens

Rhomboid muscles in upper back connect the inner edges of the shoulder blades to the spine. (REWRITE) Overuse of shoulder and arm during overhead activities - tennis, reaching overhead, rowing, carrying a heavy back pack, using a computer for extended periods the upper back supports a greate amount of weight while we walk, run, sti or stand but the muscles are relatively small

Signs and Symptoms

chronic - overuse, posture, poor body mechanics or acute - sports injury, accident severe hard to tell difference between strain and sprain differentiate from nerve impingement location - upper back only; if it radiates through the shoulders up the neck or down the arms, a nerve may be pinched or you may have a herniated disc pain between shoulder blades and spine spasms - knot, tightness when you breather or move your shoulders 1st degree - muscle fiber within the muscle is partially torn, uncomforatable but doesn't restrict movement 2nd degree - 1 or more msucles is partially torn, restricts normal movement, sometimes spasms 3rd degree - entire muscle is completely torn, maybe more than one; swollen and discolored, muscle spasms may be present


Lie down on an ice pack or frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth for 20 minutes at a time every 3 to 4 hours. (rewrite) Most heat unless you have swelling - for muscle spasms- up to 20 minutes at a time anti-inflammatories no more than 10 days massage - lie on tennis ball and roll, foam roller or self massage tool MD may prescribe PT avoid using same muscles while healing a few weeks to 6 weeks - resume normal activities


warm up, take frequent breaks while working on computer

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