Numbness between the shoulder blades may signal a serious medical condition such as a heart attack or pinched nerve and should be treated as a medical emergency. While other symptoms typically are present when you undergo a serious health threat, according to Mid-Atlantic Surgical Associates, you may have no other signs.
Muscles in the back of the shoulders require oxygen to function properly. The flow of oxygen is cut off when you undergo a heart attack, leading first to numbness. Other symptoms may be present and include nausea, palpitations, dizziness and fainting. Some people have no symptoms except for the minor discomfort in the shoulder, chest or limbs.
When the vertebra in the neck or upper back is injured, it can result in a herniated disc that can cause numbness and pain between the shoulder blades. According to MedlinePlus, the disc may move out of place as a result of a specific accident or can occur from years of overuse and strenuous activities. The numbness may be preceded by tingling, a pulsating sensation or a dull ache.
For years it was thought that women, especially younger women, didn't have heart attacks, according to MayoClinic.com. Instead, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks are the major of cause of death in women. Younger women younger than the age of 50 are more likely to die from a heart attack than men in their 70s who have a heart attack. Since 1984, more women have died each year than men from complications due to heart disease. While many women have the same symptoms as men when they are in the midst of an attack, women are more likely to have numbness between their shoulder blades, which they often mistake for a pulled muscle or strain.
A number of different tests are used to diagnose the cause of the numbness. An X-ray of the spine or a nerve conduction test often is used to determine if the numbness is the result of a herniated disc. When a heart attack is suspected, blood tests and an electrocardiogram provide sources for the diagnosis. According to MedlinePlus, a medical history is vital for doctors to know where to begin. It's important to keep track of symptoms to receive a proper diagnosis.