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Rhomboid Strain: Everything You Need to Know

Updated on January 25, 2017
Everything You Need to Know About Rhomboid Strain
Everything You Need to Know About Rhomboid Strain | Source

Whether you're engaged in strenuous physical activities like lifting heavy objects, or you've just finished batting or pitching for your baseball team, the usual effect on your body would be tired and tense muscles. Sometimes, simple rest would do, but most of the time, your upper back pain might already be telling you that it needs more than that to make you feel better.

In this article, information about rhomboid strain - a type of condition where spasms, knots, and even pain is felt in the rhomboid area will be discussed. The article covers important points essential to learning about not just the condition, but also of the point of origin - the rhomboid muscles. After learning about its functions, readers may also find what symptoms are associated with it; what causes it, and how it is diagnosed.

Moving past learning of the basics of the strain, prevention is still better than cure as some useful tips are laid out. In cases where the condition occurs, the different types of treatment are also listed, as well as the average time it takes for pain and tightness in the rhomboids to eventually recover. Lastly, a few suggested products, which can be bought from local drugstores, are listed to inform readers of their different options to relieve rhomboid pain or strain.

Interesting Fact

Rhomboids are called the "Christmas Tree" muscles. The connection of muscles from the lower neck to the upper back and the shoulder blades give off a shape that's similar to a Christmas tree.

What Are The Rhomboids?

The rhomboid muscles are a group of very thin muscles located in the upper back, which connect it to the shoulder blades and are innervated by dorsal scapular nerve. Because the group of muscles is connected to the bone and you use it for moving particular joints, it is categorized as a "skeletal muscle" (other examples include triceps and biceps). The name rhomboids is derived from the word "rhombus," the shape in which the muscles in the area appear to be patterned from. The reason why the name appears plural is because it is not only made up of one muscle, but of two. These muscles bear the following names:

  • Rhomboid Major
    The rhomboid major is composed of the larger muscles in the rhomboids. It is what connects shoulder blade to the upper back vertebrae. The rhomboid major arises from the bony projections on the posterior of the vertebra - the spinous processes - located on the second, third, fourth, and fifth vertebrae. It also attaches to the triangle-shaped surface at the base of the spine of the scapula - a bony structure found between the two shoulder blades, dividing them into two parts.
    The dorsal scapular artery (which stems from the subclavian artery) sends oxygenated blood to the rhomboid major muscle, making it also its primary connection to the spinal column.
    A torn or injured rhomboid major muscle results to a partially debilitated scapula. This means the range of motion of the upper extremities become limited. Treatment for a severely injured rhomboid major muscle would mean surgery, plus post-surgical physical therapy that involves a lot of activities and stretches to help improve muscle endurance.
  • Rhomboid Minor
    The rhomboid minor is composed of the smaller muscles in the rhomboids, which connect the first upper back vertebra and the bottom neck vertebra to the shoulder blade. It originates from the spinous processes found on the seventh cervical, lower nuchal ligament, and the first thoracic vertebra. Finally, it's attached to the surface of the scapular spine.

What It Does: Functions of the Rhomboid Muscles
The rhomboid muscles are responsible for making sure that the shoulder blade is securely attached to the spine. These muscles are also responsible for raising the shoulder blades and ensuring its stability while holding it onto the rib cage. The rhomboids retract the scapula by pulling it towards the spine, and it helps in the elevation of the scapula's medial border by rotating the scapula.

The rhomboids function every time you pull down your arms, forcefully lower them, or back with them. Activities such as drawing back a bow string or performing pull-ups require the use of the rhomboids. They also serves as the "brakes" of scapular protraction every time you perform throwing movements or arm swings. The rhomboids are even active when performing simple activities such as walking.

Rhomboid Strain: Symptoms and Causes

After engaging in strenuous activities, it's not unusual for your muscles to feel strained and tired. The rhomboid muscles are among the most vulnerable to strain, tightness, and spasm attacks. When you start feeling pain along the insides of your shoulder blades, it's possible that what you are experiencing is the rhomboid strain.

This condition occurs mostly when the body is at rest, usually right after performing activities that use the arms, shoulders, and the upper back. An indication of this condition is when you start hearing or feeling a grinding and/or popping sound on that area, and if you are unable to straighten your upper body without pain after coming from a slumped position.

More importantly, the pain from your rhomboids comes from the injury obtained by the muscles due to overstretching. The muscles then go into a spasm, which eventually result to knots. This is what causes pain in your upper back, even limiting the mobility of your neck and shoulder.

Below is a table that provides you a short summary of the symptoms to look out for if you think you are experiencing rhombus strain, as well as its causes.

Symptoms
The most common symptoms are the following:

  • Pain in the upper back, particularly between the spine and the shoulder blades. The pain gets worse when the arms are moved.
  • Occurrences of spasms - a feeling of tightness in the muscles. These are involuntary and often lead to muscle knots - areas of contraction that occur in the muscle fibers.
  • Aside from moving the arms, pain may also occur when taking deep breaths.
  • A feeling of tenderness and tightness around the upper back.

Causes
While sports and strenuous physical activities are the culprit, rhomboid muscle pains can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common ones are the following:

  • Overusing and overstraining the arms and shoulders in daily physical activities.
  • Activities that require you to bring your arms to an overhead position (e.g. spike serving in volleyball, reaching and carrying heavy objects to put on a high shelf, or serving a tennis ball) continuously and repeatedly.
  • Strenuous arm activities such as rowing, pull-ups, and lifting heavy barbells at the gym.
  • Household activities such as hanging wallpaper, changing light bulbs, or sweeping the ceiling.
  • Extended work periods in front of the computer. Continuous work on the computer is mainly known for causing strains to the eye, but it also strains the shoulders if you often don't take breaks to stretch. This also promotes poor posture, especially when you're in a hunched position.
  • Maintaining a military posture - keeping an extremely straight posture while standing, with chest thrust forward and shoulders pulled backwards. This may seem harmful, but when this position is kept for hours, it only strains your muscles even more.
  • Carrying heavy items on your back, such as a loaded backpack. This leads to poor posture, especially if you have a habit of wearing your backpack only on one of your shoulders.
  • An acute injury caused by a fall, a collision, or a sudden twisting motion. This often leads to swelling, bruising, and other forms of trauma that may affect not only the rhomboid muscles but the adjacent muscles as well.

Rhomboid muscle strain or spasm
Rhomboid muscle strain or spasm | Source

Diagnosis

Whether you are experiencing severe and mild pain, it is advisable to go see a doctor who can help you with treatment. According to studies, the best times to see a doctor is when you start experiencing any of the following:

  • Noticeable pain in the rhomboids area
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feelings of extreme fatigue, weakness, or weariness
  • Stiff neck, or inability to move arms and shoulders without pain
  • You need advice on how you can resume your daily activities without experiencing pain

Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamins, or therapy to help with the pain. In severe cases, there might be minor surgery done on the area. Here is the usual process in diagnosing rhomboid strain.

  • The healthcare provider asks the patient's medical history to see if there are any upper back injuries or similar shoulder conditions that could contribute to the occurrence of the strain.
  • He or she will ask the patient the following information:
    1. When did you start experiencing pain in your shoulders?
    2. What other symptoms are you experiencing?
    3. What is the intensity of pain, and does it occur when moving your arms?
    4. How did the injury occur?
    5. What activity were you doing when you started experiencing pain? What physical activity are you engaging in on a regular basis?
  • Aside from the questions, the healthcare provider shall proceed with the physical examination. This involves palpation of the patient's upper back, shoulders, and the area around the scapula's inner edge. He will also ask the patient to move his arms to help determine the range of motion the patient is able to achieve without pain. This also helps determine the extent of the injury.

After doing the steps mentioned above, only then will your healthcare provider be able to tell whether you are experiencing rhomboid strain or if the pain is caused by a different problem.

Important

There are conditions that may have the same symptoms as rhomboid muscle pain. If you have been experiencing upper back and shoulder pain, the following might also be the causes. Your healthcare provider should be able to tell these apart and not confuse them with rhomboid muscle pain through a series of tests.

  1. Muscular Irritation
    The large upper back muscles that are connected to the scapula are prone to irritation, or myofascial pain. This results to pain which could hinder a person's daily activities when left untreated.
    Often, this is due to lack of strength (de-conditioning) or repetitive motions (overuse). Other causes of muscular irritation include muscle strains, auto accidents, and sports injuries.
    Muscular irritation is usually accompanied by inflammation of some sort, so the usual prescriptions include anti-inflammatory medications.
  2. Joint Dysfunction
    Dysfunction usually happens in the two joints connecting the vertebrae of the thoracic spine to the ribs. The result of this dysfunction is pain felt particularly on the upper back.
    Treatment of joint dysfunction differs from that of rhomboid muscle pain, as it involves a chiropractor, osteopathic physician, or a physical therapist performing manual manipulation to help reduce discomfort and mobilize the joint. Home exercise programs may also be recommended, as well as prescription of anti-inflammatory medications.

Prevention, Treatment, and Follow-Up Care

Although the rhomboids strain isn't a severe condition when diagnosed early, it is still important to take note of the time needed to recover from it, as well as the different treatment options available as advised by the healthcare provider.

More important than cure is prevention, which is why the tips below are identified to help you prevent the onset of this condition.

Prevention Tip #1: Warming Up Helps
Before any physical activity, it's always important to warm up before diving right in. Proper warm-up and stretching exercises help prepare your body and mind for the physical activity ahead. It improves the muscles' elasticity, reducing the probability of overstretching, which can lead to injury.

Prevention Tip #2: Take a Break
The body can go for an hour without taking breaks during workouts. Exercising for more than an hour without taking breaks can result to muscle fatigue, therefore increasing the chances of muscle strain.

On the other hand, working on the computer without standing up and stretching every once in a while will also cause strain on the muscles, particularly the shoulders and the back. Take a break every 30-40 minutes by standing up from your seat and stretching your arms, back, and legs.

Prevention Tip #3: Always Follow the Rules
If your work or sport requires the use of protective equipment, or if there are safety rules to be followed, do so. This reduces the risk of any injury that might cause damage not only to your rhomboid muscles, but to the rest of your body as well.

Prevention Tip #4: Exercise to Balance Body Temperature
Common occurrences during the cold season are muscle and joint pains due to the drop in temperature of the environment and of the body. To help warm up your muscles and promote normal blood flow, make it a point to exercise regularly even when you are indoors.

Prevention Tip #5: Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Even if it's a simple jog or morning stretch, it's important that you engage in physical activity that's enough to warm up your muscles. This will also help improve muscle endurance and flexibility, making it less likely for injuries to occur frequently.

Prevention Tip #6: Maintain Proper Posture
Sometimes, the reason for your back and shoulder pains is that you are frequently slumped over your work. Even when slumping is a habit, always make it a point to straighten and stretch your back every once in a while. Being slumped for long periods of time can cause not only poor posture, but muscle strain as well.

Prevention Tip #7: Rest
Lastly, and most importantly, allot yourself at least 6 hours of rest every night to allow your body to recover. A tired body is susceptible to illnesses, and more prone to injuries and pain. On the other hand, a well-rested one has more endurance and recovers at a better rate.

When you're diagnosed with rhomboid strain, it's imperative that your healthcare provider orient you with the different types of treatment available, and which treatment would he recommend for you. The type of treatment will depend on how severe your condition is.
The following are the known treatments.

Rhomboid major and rhomboid minor muscles
Rhomboid major and rhomboid minor muscles | Source

Over-the-Counter Medication

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can help ease pain from muscle strains. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you take these.

Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medication that is often used for relieving pain and inflammation in certain areas. This is commonly used for relieving headaches and muscle pains. Ibuprofen is an example of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), along with aspirin, naproxen, and celecoxib. All these may be prescribed to you depending on the severity of the pain. These medications thin out your blood, thereby reducing swelling.

Acetaminophen is another NSAID, but note that this may cause stomach bleeding in the long run, so take only as prescribed by your healthcare practitioner while referring to the information pasted on the label. Avoid taking this for more than 10 days.

Hot and Cold Ice Packs

If the affected area is in pain, applying an ice pack can provide relief. Apply ice packs to shoulder, lower neck, or upper back for 20-30 minutes. If the pain continues, continue applying the ice pack for the same amount of time every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days until the pain gets relieved.

If you don't have an ice pack at home, you can put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Just place a towel over it, set it on the floor, and lie on it with your upper back against the ice. Do this for the same amount of time indicated previously.

Another treatment is to apply moist heat on tight muscles, or if you have muscle spasms to help it relax. You can benefit more from moist heat when left on your back for up to 20 minutes. Other sources of moist heat are the following.

  1. Heat Pads – these can be found easily at your local drugstore.
  2. Wet towels or washcloths placed and heated in the dryer.
  3. Warm showers.

Note that heat treatment is not recommended if swelling occurs.

Massage

Massaging the affected area can also help relieve pain and muscle tension. Make sure you don't go for a strong massage; opt for a lighter but more therapeutic one instead. Go to a massage therapist who specializes in physical therapy.

If you don't have time to book an appointment with a massage therapist, you can just use a tennis ball. Set the tennis ball on the floor and lie your rhomboid muscles against it. Lightly roll yourself on the tennis ball, specifically targeting the spot where your rhomboids are located.

Another option is to use back massagers or massaging chairs. Foam rollers are also another type, and help massage the rhomboids for relief. Whether you go for self-massage or allot time for a visit to a massage therapist, the end results are relaxed muscles and relieved muscle pain.

Rehabilitation / Physical Therapy

In some cases, the pain in the rhomboids cannot be relieved by the previous treatment options mentioned. This is the time when patients are referred to rehabilitation. Rehab involves encouraging patients to do gentle movements and stretches to help alleviate any pain in the rhomboids. This not only helps regain flexibility and full range of motion, but also helps speed up the recovery process. These activities are guided by a physical therapist, who's responsible for ensuring that you execute these stretches properly to avoid further injuries from occurring.

Rehabilitation exercises will help patients return to their normal physical or sports activities before the injury occurred.

Some of the stretches done for treating rhomboid pain include the following simple ones:

  1. Place both arms behind your back. Interlace your fingers, and slowly and gently push your hands out backwards until you feel your shoulders getting stretched.
  2. Hold an arm straight across your chest. With the help of the opposite arm, slowly pull your arm closer to your chest. This will gently stretch your upper back muscles.

The different treatment options mentioned above are all applied to rhomboid muscle pain after consulting with a healthcare provider. However, there will be some instances when urgent treatment will be needed. In this case, first aid treatment is necessary to address the urgent needs of a person to alleviate any pain and tightness that might have resulted from twisted, overstretched, or torn muscles.

It's essential to apply first aid treatment 48 hours after the injury has occurred. The goal here is to decrease any muscle spasms, swelling, and pain through rest, ice, and over-the-counter medications.

  • Resting the Affected Area: In the event of an injury, it is imperative to immediately disengage from any current physical activity to allow the muscles to rest. Straining your muscles even more will only worsen the injury and might result to even more serious problems.
  • Icing the Affected Area: Hold an ice pack over the injury for 20 minutes to stop any swelling from escalating. If no ice pack is available, you can use crushed ice and place it in a bag as indicated previously. Make sure to wrap it with a thin towel before using. Continue this every 3-4 hours for the first 48 hours.
    Icing helps constrict the blood vessels, which in turn helps in decreasing inflammation in the affected area. Avoid switching to heat treatment during this time as it will only increase blood flow.
  • Taking Over-the-Counter Medication: Along with the two remedies mentioned above, taking anti-inflammatory medications sold over-the-counter can help alleviate pain and discomfort. The NSAIDs mentioned above (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen) are known for relieving swelling and pain in the muscles. Make sure you are not allergic to any of these before taking them.
  • Applying Compression: Another effective way to reduce swelling is to apply pressure on the affected area. For this, you could get an elastic bandage and wrap it around your back. If you find this difficult to do yourself, you can ask somebody else to wrap your back for you.
    Note that you shouldn't tighten the wrap too much that it cuts off the circulation of your blood. If it feels too tight, loosen the bandage a bit, especially if the pain increases. Loosen the bandage too if you notice any swelling near the wrapped area, or if you are starting to feel numbness.
  • Elevate the Affected Area: Injured parts of the body recover best when placed in a position where they are higher that heart level. You can do this by lying down on the couch or on your bed, and propping your feet on a stack of pillows. Your stacked feet should be at a higher position, so make sure to stack about two to three pillows for this. Do this for the first 24 hours of the injury.

There are also instances when you have no choice but to call 911, even if it's just upper back pain. Here are the following instances when it's advisable to call 911:

  • If there are signs of any significant pain, fever, swelling, open cuts, or bleeding.
  • A "popping" sound can be heard.
  • If you're living alone and you can't walk, which means there is no way for you to drive your way to the hospital for an emergency treatment.

Normally, if the injury isn't severe to require rehabilitation, you can start resuming your normal activities after the first 48 hours. If there is any lingering pain, applying heat compress is recommended.

  • Resuming Activity: You may be tempted to stay indoors and on your bed if you still feel any pain after the first 48 hours. Don't do that. Many people attest to going back to their physical activities as soon as possible. Resting and staying immobile for a long time may also be a factor in the delay of your recovery.
    Resuming of your activities shouldn't be abrupt; do this after you've rested well enough. Avoid pushing yourself too hard, especially when you're exercising or doing sports. What you can do is to start slow, and gradually build up your momentum to help bring yourself back to your former level of activity.
  • Applying Heat: If you're still feeling hints of pain after the first 48 hours, you can try applying heat to the affected area. Heat helps your blood vessels to dilate, increasing the blood flow to the affected area. The nutrients that come with increased blood flow help speed up the recovery of any damaged tissue or muscle.

Exercises and Stretches For The Rhomboids

While it was already mentioned that exercises can be a way to prevent rhomboid muscle pain and stretches are used as a rehabilitation exercise, engaging in exercise and stretching activities can also help with treatment.

The following is a collection of exercises and stretches that will help relax the muscles in the rhomboids area, as well as warm up these muscles to prevent injuries from frequently occurring.

1. Upper Back Stretches

  • Start this stretch by stretching both of your arms in front of your body.
  • Clasp your hands together before reaching forward and bending your head downwards.
  • Feel the stretch in your upper back and neck. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds.
  • Repeat the process for up to 5 times.
  • If you want a more intense variation, try grabbing onto something such as a stairway railing or a door frame for support.

2. Neck Side Stretches

  • Use your right arm and place it over your head, with your hand positioned near your left ear.
  • Gently pull your head towards your right shoulder.
  • Hold this stretch for up to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the stretch for up to 5 times.

3. Side Arm Stretch

  • Raise your right arm and pull it toward the opposite side of your body.
  • Raise your left arm and use it to pull your left arm across.
  • Hold this stretch for more up to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat this stretch 3-5 times for each arm.

4. Bent Arm Stretch

  • Sit or stand with your spine straight.
  • Bend your right elbow while reaching slowly behind the left shoulder.
  • Cross your left arm over the right arm to bend it. Start pulling your right arm closer to your body to stretch it.
  • Repeat this on the other side, and repeat the whole exercise for 2-4 more times.

5. Neck Rotation

  • For this exercise, you can either stand up straight or sit on a sturdy chair.
  • Slowly turn your head to the right, and hold it there for 15-30 seconds while maintaining chin level.
  • Turn your head to the other side, and hold it for another 15-30 seconds.
  • Repeat this rotation for about 2-4 times for each side.

6. Door Frame Stretching

  • Stand with your body parallel to your door frame (any door in your home is fine).
  • Using your left arm, reach for the right side of the door frame and grasp it with just enough strength to support yourself.
  • Lean your body towards the left, while maintaining your grip on the right side of the door frame.
  • Try to hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the process a few times on both sides.

7. Resisted Rows – for this exercise, you'll need a long, elastic material.

  • Place the band around a solid object, such as a pole or a bedpost. Make sure that it is around waist level.
  • Hold the band in each hand at equal lengths.
  • Hold your arms (with the band) in front of you.
  • Gently pull the bands back while moving your shoulder blades together. Your elbows should end up by your side, at a 90-degree angle (shaped like the letter "L.")
  • Slowly return yourself to your starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise for about 9-12 times.

8. Range of Motion Exercises

  • Stand up straight in a neutral position. Let your arms fall naturally by your side.
  • Lift your shoulders up and hold it over your head for 5 seconds.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades and keep the position for another 5 seconds.
  • Slowly lower your shoulders and return to your starting position. Relax.
  • Repeat this exercise about 5-10 times.

9. Rhomboid Twisting Stretch

  • This exercise is similar to the seated spinal twist. The only difference is you'll be twisting inward, not outward.
  • Sit on the floor, legs straight out forward.
  • Cross your left leg over your right leg without moving the right leg.
  • Bring your right hand and position it on the floor, right behind your back.
  • Gently reach over and grasp your left ankle with your left hand while slowly twisting your body to the right side.
  • Use your elbow to gently push your knee out.
  • Repeat this for 3-5 times on each side.

10. Kneeling Back Stretch

  • Bring your body to the floor and kneel down.
  • Slowly extend your arms and shoulders to the front.
  • Reach forward, making sure to reach as far as you can while stretching the upper back.
  • Hold this position for about 30 seconds before gently returning to your starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise for 3-5 times.

11. Fixed Bar Stretch

  • Grab onto a fixed bar that is attached to a sturdy object, such as a wall or other heavy objects.
  • Make sure your distance from this bar is at arm's length.
  • Pull your hips slowly backwards without moving your feet. Straighten your legs, and keep your spin and arms straight. This should make you feel a stretch happening in the rhomboids area.
  • Repeat this for 3-5 times.

Note that although these exercises are often included in rhomboid strain therapy programs, it is always a must to seek the advice of a licensed physician before executing these exercises yourself. This is so you will be guided on the right number of repetitions, and what the right posture should be when executing these exercises.

How Long Will It Take To Recover?

The recovery time for rhomboid strain depends on several factors; first, the severity of the condition, and second, the body's natural recovery rate. In general, the time it will take to recover from this condition might be a couple of weeks, or even up to 6 weeks or longer if the case is that severe.

In this section, you'll learn about a few tips and tricks that'll help you gain a quick recovery

  1. Perform exercises regularly.
    Make sure to exercise regularly, carefully following the advice of the healthcare providers or physical therapists you have consulted with. Exercise is not only great as a prevention or treatment, it's also a vital element in boosting your endurance and immune system. The result is a stronger system that won't be too vulnerable to similar injuries in the future.
  2. Engage in physical activities or sports.
    Even if the cause for the injury of your rhomboid muscles is the sport you've been playing, this doesn't mean you should refrain from engaging in sports of any kind. Most healthcare providers recommend continuing physical activity, but recommend to shift to a less intense one.
    For example, if you're a baseball player, your sport requires you to swing your arms whether you're a batter or a pitcher. When your rhomboid muscles become injured due to your constant swinging, this doesn't mean that you should stay at home and rest until you recover. Aside from the exercises listed in the rehabilitation program, your healthcare provider might recommend running, brisk walking, or jogging regularly to maintain your physical activity.
    The key here is to choose a less intense physical activity if you're feeling the need to remain active while recovering.
  3. Have your upper back massaged from time to time.
    Not only is massage a great way to alleviate and soothe pain in the muscles; it also helps sore and painful muscles to recover more quickly. If you don't have the time to visit a massage or a physical therapist, you can try the self-massage techniques mentioned above such as the tennis ball technique. You can also try self-massage tools that often have rounded points to gently roll against your muscles.

Once your healthcare provider assesses that you have fully recovered from your rhomboids muscle injuries, that's the only time you should return to your initial sport or other intense physical activities. This is an important reminder as returning too soon might only worsen the symptoms, and of course, the pain. Severe pain, when left untreated, might lead to permanent damage.

Note that each person has a different recovery rate. If you wait long enough before starting with treatment, especially if you've already been experiencing the symptoms mentioned above before visiting a healthcare provider, chances are you recovery rate would take longer before you could get better.

As soon as your muscles are no longer experiencing spasms, and if you can already move your shoulders and arms without any pain, then it's already safe for you to resume your regular physical activities.

To help you with your check list, here are the things that are useful to ask your healthcare provider to help you learn more about rhomboid muscle pain recovery:

  1. When and how will I hear about my test results?
  2. How long will it take for me to recover?
  3. What activities should I avoid and when can I return to my physical activities?
  4. What should I do to take care of myself at home?
  5. What are the problems and symptoms I should watch out for?
  6. When is my follow-up checkup?

Products That Help With Rhomboid Strain

Rhomboid strain is a pretty common occurrence among athletes and even among workplace professionals. Aside from the over-the-counter medications mentioned in the previous sections of this article, a variety of products have been developed by companies that aim to alleviate the pain and discomfort of muscle pains. The following is a list of some of the most common products that are known to help alleviate rhomboids muscle pain.

1. Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel

  • This warm therapy gel is perfect for relieving rhomboid muscle upper back pain, and is often used whether for personal (home) or professional (physical therapy and massages) use.
  • Aside from relief for upper back pain, this gel is also useful when experiencing pain due to arthritis. For chronic back pain that affects the front of the shoulders up to the chest muscles, this is also ideal to use.

2. Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel

  • The reason why warm therapy gel soothes tired muscles and eases pain is because the blood vessels dilate to help the muscles relax. Cold therapy gel, on the other hand, is an excellent choice when there's swelling involved. The Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel works just like ice and helps reduce any swelling that often comes with joint or muscle injuries. Users of this product have reported this gel being two times more effective than ice when relieving pain. Plus, the effect is said to last 9-10 times longer.

3. Soothe-a-ciser: Relief for Neck and Shoulder Pain

  • To help the neck and pectoral muscles stretch and relax, a useful product would be the Soothe-a-ciser - a pillow-like item that's made especially for people who experience back, neck, and shoulder pains. Lying on this product for 10-15 minutes helps relax the shoulders, chest, neck, and upper back. Some people even report that the product has also helped them with their headache.
  • The Soothe-a-ciser works well on tight, painful pectoral and rhomboid muscles. People who experience pain due to their slumping postures or rounded shoulders could well benefit from this no-fuss product.

4. SofTouch Hot and Cold Pack

  • The large pack variant of the SofTouch Hot and Cold Pack can be used both for hot and for cold treatment. It is large enough to cover the whole back - people can just slump this thing on their back and wait for its wondrous effects while they enjoy reading their favorite book.
  • The SofTouch Large Hot and Cold Pack can also be used for the chest pectoral muscles as it is connected to the rhomboids.
  • If you're wondering what could be inside this product, this pack contains a clay-like substance that remains pliable and soft even after freezing and microwaving the pack. This allows the pack to mold itself according to your body shape. Just think of memory foam and how it also molds according to contours of your body. On the other hand, the outside is made of a soft material that almost feels like suede and is gentle on the skin.

5. ShouldersBack Posture Support

  • The ShouldersBack Posture Support is ideal for support, and serves as a brace for rhomboid muscles. It works by gently pulling back your shoulders to promote the body's correct posture while slowly elongating and stretching the chest muscles. This is also great to use by people with rounded shoulders and slumping posture.
  • This brace should only be used for short periods of time. Physical therapists will determine when you should start using it longer, and this depends entirely on how your body adjusts. Even if the brace feels tight on the back, you can still move around freely and comfortably. Its design doesn't include becoming a rigid support, and doesn't hold your back and shoulders down forcibly.

In most cases, the symptoms of rhomboid strain go away completely after two or so weeks. If the symptoms last for more than that, it's advisable to go visit your doctor for a follow-up consultation. He may recommend imaging tests such as an X-ray or a CT scan to determine the extent of your injury. In some cases, patients are required to splint or brace their injuries, or undergo physiotherapy or other similar treatments. The dosage of your medication may be increased, or replaced with a stronger brand. Lastly, doctors may also recommend performing several exercises that will help avoid back strain.

Always ask your healthcare provider which treatment is the best for your case. Make sure that he diagnoses you properly and that your welfare comes first to them. No matter how much over-the-counter medications you take, the key is to continue doing the exercises mentioned above to give your rhomboid muscles the chance to loosen up. The products above are but a few of the known ones that help alleviate pain and relax the muscles. However, at the end of the day, prevention is still known to be better than cure, so maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and proper dieting will help improve your chances of avoiding frequent injuries.

Resources!

  1. "Rhomboid muscle strain or spasm". The Sports Medicine Patient Adviser. http://www.ndortho.com/Pt_Advisor-WEB/Rhomboid_Strain.pdf. Retrieved on 25-Jan-2017.
  2. "Rhomboid major and rhomboid minor muscles: grinding popping shoulder." The Wellness Digest. http://thewellnessdigest.com/rhomboid-major-and-minor-muscles-grinding-popping-shoulder/. Retrieved on 25-Jan-2017.
  3. "Rhomboid Strain or Spasm". Summit Medical Group. http://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/library/adult_health/sma_rhomboid_muscle_strain/. Retrieved on 25-Jan-2017.
  4. "Essential Sports First Aid for Back Strain". Health Line. http://www.healthline.com/health/ankylosing-spondylitis/sports-first-aid#Overview1. Retrieved on 25-Jan-2017.
  5. "Rhomboid major muscle". Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhomboid_major_muscle. Retrieved on 25-Jan-2017.

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    • prowritter62 profile image

      Basem AW 8 months ago from Malaysia

      Great information!!!