Eliminating Shoulder Pain When Breathing

Shoulder pain when breathing CAN be relieved.
Sarah Key explains what may be causing it, and demonstrates how you can help yourself at home.

Girl feeling shoulder, in pain.

People often refer to a pain in the shoulder or shoulder blade, when what they really mean is a 'back shoulder pain'.

And while it is almost never possible to get true (as in tip of shoulder) shoulder pain when breathing, it is indeed very common to get a glancing upper back and shoulder pain - particularly on taking a deeper than normal breath.

Shoulder pain related to breathing and coughing can originate from the spinal and rib-cage joints in different parts of the neck and thorax. If the pain is in the high upper-back and back of shoulder it is more likely to be coming from a jammed and inflamed facet joint in the neck and the muscles protecting it. These problems tend to be more severe and harder to deal with.

Relieve Your Shoulder Pain From Breathing With These Quicklinks

Why Does My Shoulder Hurt When I Breathe?

The muscles of the neck can be used as emergency breathing muscles that raise the clavicle (collar bone) and first rib

The C5 to C7 facet joints in the neck are situated deep under the the web of muscles in the corner angle of the neck and shoulder. When annoyed or strained, they tend to refer pain down over the back of shoulder and upper back. The lower cervical facet joints are more than usually susceptible to becoming locked and painful, particularly during times of emotional stress when tension in the jaw and shoulders causes them to stay raised for weeks, even months. 

Tiredness, Stress and bad Breathing habits
Can Also Cause Pain at the Cross-Bar of Your Shoulder

With the stresses and strains of life, the jaw and trapezius muscles (that run from the back of your skull down either side of your neck, fanning out to to each shoulder tip) develop a permanent state of low-grade contraction that bunches up the joints in the neck/shoulder angle. In a similar way, our emotional response under duress (and this includes tiredness) subtly causes our breathing mechanism to change, which hoists up the shoulders and clutters the joints trapped at the neck angle.

Raised shoulders may be imperceptible to you until you face yourself squarely in the mirror and deliberately let them go. You will be amazed by how far the shoulders drop down when you will them to relax. (The problem invariably is keeping them there!) Reading below, you will also see how breathing through the mouth and chronic stress states raise the shoulders through over-exertion of the neck muscles. 

Body in Action - You can keep your joints young

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If you or a friend suffer from aches, pains, and creaky joints, this handy reference demonstrates how to keep the body's skeleton young and healthy.

It Includes a series of stretches, and explores how muscles, joints, and bones work, how and why they wear and tear, and how to combat stiffness and pain.

Treatments focus on the lower back, thoracic spine, neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Sarah also covers the warning signs of imminent joint problems, plus  activities for restoring mobility and breaking the bad habits of a sedentary lifestyle. 

Extensive diagrams of the body and how-to illustrations of exercises encourage patients to actively manage their pain. A daily 30-minute strengthening regime is also outlined for continued movement and flexibility.

Other benefits include:

  • Familiarise yourself with the anatomy of the neck and rib cage
  • Read about how the lower cervical (neck) joints refer pain to the shoulder
  • Learn about how the neck thorax and shoulder are all inter-connected
  • Learn about habitual triggers that cause your typical shoulder pain
  • Read about the other syndromes of the neck and shoulder
  • Learn why using a BackBlock underpins all upper spine therapy 
  • Take yourself through an exercise program unique for your condition
  • Appreciate how nice it is to be in the know!

Back Pain Videos For Home Care

It's always easier to watch and listen than read. The following videos are of Sarah talking and explaining how the first principles of spinal treatment are always spinal decompression - both to ease the spinal segments apart and to correct faulty postures. And with many computer users in poor postures for hours each day, the need is great. 

You can see Sarah herself showing you how to use the BackBlock for the upper back on Video 4 of the Back Pain Exercises video package. It helps to see it done properly, and besides, knowing you are doing the exercises right makes them work better - and there's nothing like seeing the pro do it.