What conditions cause stiffness between shoulder blades after meals?
January 1, 2015 5:07 PM   Subscribe

I get stiffness and pain between my shoulder blades. This frequently occurs after meals, but it doesn't happen all of the time. I wonder if I might have some food sensitivity or other condition. What might cause this and what is it? Rheumatic and autoimmune diseases run in my family. Could that be related?
posted by mintchip to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you sure it's pain between your shoulder blades and not heartburn?
posted by radioamy at 5:09 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

If it's actual back pain and not confusing heartburn, I bet it's just the way you sit and hold yourself when you're eating. Try mixing it up. Sit in a different chair, pay extra close attention to your posture, switch your fork to the opposite hand, etc. Do that for a week and see if anything is different.
posted by phunniemee at 5:10 PM on January 1, 2015

Irritation of the diaphragm muscle is commonly felt as shoulder pain.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 5:12 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I had acid reflux that always made me think it was back pain. Try an antacid and see if that helps.
posted by InkaLomax at 6:13 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Have you had your gallbladder checked? That's how the fun times* with mine started - mild pain in the shoulders, then worsening pain/feeling "too full". Make a food journal and see if you can link up the trigger. It's usually dairy or alcohol for that particular problem.

*not actually fun times
posted by saturnine at 6:18 PM on January 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

People's gallbladders can be positioned in strange ways to cause unusual pain from gallstones after meals. Between the shoulder blades is not a typical place for gallbladder pain, but other common causes of what doctors call "postprandial pain" would not typically be in the back either (i.e peptic ulcers, reflux). Any reason you haven't spoken to a physician about this? I'd recommend doing so -with more information and a physical exam they'll be able to give much better answers.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:56 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Heartburn starts as a pain between my shoulderblades depending on what I'm doing. Also as others have said gallstone pain can radiate to weird places.
posted by wwax at 9:02 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Exactly how my gallbladder issues manifested at first - a few years of that, on and off, but it took being pregnant, eating ribs and pizza, for it to go into full 'fun' mode.
posted by geek anachronism at 9:43 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nthing that my gallbladder pain also started as "referred pain" between my shoulder blades.

Keep a food/pain log for a while and see if the pain follows high-fat meals. There's usually a bit of a delay between when you eat the fat and when you have the pain (e.g., I would wake up early in the morning with pain after eating a fatty pot roast for dinner) so you may have to try eating fat free for a couple of days to notice a definite difference.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:30 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Gallbladder pain famously refers to this location. I'd rule that out via ultrasound before investigating other causes.
posted by quince at 11:01 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I get heartburn, I feel a stabbing pain between the shoulder blades. It was a couple of years before I confirmed this was heartburn and not just some weird phantom back pain.
posted by amusebuche at 7:47 AM on January 2, 2015

I get this same uncomfortable tightness in my shoulders and upper back whenever I take a vitamin supplement that isn't completely organic...I have no idea why, I've just assumed that it's a sensitivity of some sort b
posted by gracious floor at 10:40 PM on January 2, 2015

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