What Is Rhomboid Tendinitis and How Do You Prevent It?

Rhomboid tendinitis causes pain between the shoulder blades.
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Rhomboid muscles join the inner edges of shoulder blades to the spine. When the muscle fibers are stretched or torn, a strain or injury results. It is a common problem for athletes and occurs frequently in games such as tennis or rowing. Comprehensive knowledge about rhomboid tendinitis is important for players to take immediate and effective action.



Rhomboid tendinitis is characterized by inflammation of the tendons of the rhomboid muscles, located between your shoulder blades.

Read more:Tendinitis

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Rhomboid Muscle Function

The rhomboid muscles are located in the upper spine and are connected to the shoulder blade. There is a rhomboid major and rhomboid minor on each side of the body. These muscles retract your shoulder blades or draw them closer together to help you stand up straight. These muscles also assist with your ability to reach your arms overhead.

Rhomboid tendinitis is inflammation or even microtearing of the tendon, or connection between the muscle belly and bone.

Causes of Rhomboid Injury

A major cause of rhomboid tendinitis is the overuse of your shoulder and arm. Along with athletes, people who carry heavy backpacks, have poor posture or use the computer for prolonged periods can experience rhomboid tendinitis.


Symptoms of Rhomboid Injury

Pain in the upper back, spasms or tightening in the muscles between shoulder blades and spine are some of the common symptoms of rhomboid tendinitis. In more severe cases, bruising and swelling can occur. Because of the location of the rhomboids, injury to these muscles can cause pain with breathing.

Treatment and Interventions

The immediate treatment for rhomboid tendinitis is minimizing and limiting the amount of inflammation by a regimen known as ​RICE​, short for ​rest​, ​ice​, ​compression​ and ​elevation​. Anti-inflammatory drugs are often given as a first measure. Check with your doctor to be sure these medications are safe for you.


Depending on the severity of the rhomboid injury, hot and cold treatments can be applied. For speedy recovery, ultrasound and electrotherapy are other pain-relieving modalities used by health care professionals. Physical therapy and massage reduce tightness in injured rhomboid muscles, as well as strengthen and improve elasticity of the damaged tendon and attached muscle.


The duration of the recovery period depends on age, health and the number of previous injuries, if any. Tendon irritation that lasts for a few weeks or months can lead to a chronic injury, according to Mayo Clinic. This can cause the tendon to break down from microtearing. In severe cases, tendon rupture can occur, requiring surgical intervention.


Read more:Foods That Help Tendinitis

Prevention of Tendinitis

The best preventive measure is warming up properly and stretching before starting activities such as tennis, rowing or any other overhead movements. A number of rhomboid exercises can be carried out, but discuss these with a physiotherapist first, according to PhysioAdvisor.com.


The basic rhomboid-strengthening exercise should be performed approximately three times daily and increased gradually so it does not cause or increase pain. These exercises can include shoulder blade squeeze, darts, pullback with resistance band, arms above head in lying, seated row, and rhomboid pullbacks on a Swiss ball.




Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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