Rhomboid muscle aches and radiates to the ribcage

by Diana
(Jackson, TN, USA)


My doctor has said I have a problem with my rhomboid shoulder muscle, on the left side. The pains are a deep ache upon arm movement. It feels like it goes to my ribs on the side too. I can move my arm a certain way & I can feel that deep ache. My rib area has made it worse.

I'm thinking that my rhomboid issue is getting worse, I may be wrong. It is sore and aches upon different movements. I can bend over to fix my sandal and I can feel that pain.

A few weeks ago I had aches and pains so bad to where I can have my arm like it was like it was in a sling. My shoulder/rhomboid pain was too much. So what are some thoughts about why I am hurting so bad upon movement?

Hello Diana,
It's a difficult area to diagnose because it may be a local problem, or it may be referred from elsewhere.

It could be a muscle problem, but then it should be getting better with some rest and massage. Under that muscle are both your spine, and the rib joints; do you have any pain with deep breathtaking? I suspect the latter if it's spreading to your rib cage; any tenderness at the breastbone?

Then, the rhomboid muscle is innervated by the dorsal scapular nerve which comes from the lower neck, C5 to be precise. Do you have any neck pain? Do head movements provoke the pain? Is it also going into your arm?

Lastly, not wanting to be melodramatic as it's rare it can be a referred pain from the lung, and organs such as the pancreas and breast; are you a smoker and is there any reason to suspect this may be internal?

This has gone on quite long now; I would recommend an x-ray of your chest and thoracic spine.

I hope this contributes. Let me know how you get on.

Dr B


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Aug 26, 2017
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by: Anonymous

The pain has subsided for now, though 2 weeks ago it bothered me once again. I took a muscle relaxer, it helped some. I haven't had no pains but maybe an ache here & there since the last 2 weeks. I had a chest xray of my left side, where the pain was/is, it was normal. And yes I'm a smoker. Thanks for the reply to my questions.

It's good that it is improving. You know what doctors think of smoking so I won't belabour the point.

Dr B



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