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How To Get Rid Of That Knot in your Shoulders That Won’t Go Away

September 20, 2023
Read Time: 8 Minutes

At one time or another, everyone is bound to experience a knot in their shoulder blade that won't go away. Having a knot in the shoulder area is more than just annoying. They're painful and can bother you with every twist, turn, and movement. Whether muscle knots in shoulders present as a dull ache or a stabbing pain, you want to find relief fast.

Sometimes, your shoulder knot will resolve on its own fairly quickly. You may wake up with a knot that's gone by the end of the day or disappear by the next. Fast pain relief is always great. Other times you may get a knot in a shoulder blade that won't go away no matter what you try. It can last for days, affecting your sleep, daily workouts, and even the simplest of tasks uncomfortable. Sometimes the pain becomes unbearable.

However, there are ways to help knots in the shoulder heal as quickly as possible.

Keep reading to learn more about how to find relief, secondary pain that can occur from the knots, the best at-home massage treatments, causes of shoulder knots, and how to avoid them.

ChiroCare of Florida is always here for our patients to help treat all bone and soft tissue pain, like knots, stiffness, and tension. Many patients report feeling better after just one appointment. If a knot in your shoulder won't go away, schedule an appointment with us today for professional care.

How Can You Get Rid of Knots and Tension In Your Shoulders?

You can treat knots in your shoulder right at home in many ways. These methods can help you feel better without stepping foot in a doctor's office and are totally free. If you're in pain, give these options a shot.

Hot and Cold Therapy

Using heating pads and ice packs directly on the area of the knot can help with immediate relief and loosen tension in your shoulders. Give both a try, and then stick with the method you notice works best.

Apply Pressure to Trigger Points

To do this properly, you must identify the correct target trigger points. There are trigger points all over your body. The most commonly known trigger points regarding back and shoulder pain start at the top of your neck, above and below the shoulder blade, the middle to lower back, and the buttocks.

When getting rid of a shoulder knot, press down directly on the knot and hold the pressure for ten seconds. Repeat this process a few times. By targeting the trigger point, you can increase blood flow in the area, which helps loosen the muscles.

Use At-Home Massage Tools

Many find that a good massage can help relieve pain from a shoulder knot. If you can reach the area yourself, go ahead and rub the area. If not, ask a friend or partner if they can help. You can use your hands like a traditional massage, lay on a foam roller, or use objects like tennis balls and softballs to target the area better. Massage around the site or roll the balls specifically over the knot in a circular motion.

Stretch Gently & Try Yoga

Another great way to help shoulder knots that won't disappear is to stretch the area gently. You can put the arm on the same side as the knot parallel to your chest, your shoulder cuff will rotate gently, and use your other arm to apply pressure, stretching your muscles gently.

Looking up yoga poses that stretch the shoulders is another way to help. There are simple poses that don't require previous yoga training. You can look at images online or watch online videos as how-to guides.

Over-the-Counter Pain Medication

In the short term, using over-the-counter medication can help manage your pain. Doctors usually recommend Naproxen or ibuprofen for muscle soreness, as they're anti-inflammatory medications.

These medications are NSAIDs, which can have severe interactions with other meds. Suppose you're taking blood pressure medication, meds to prevent blood clots, steroids such as prednisone, certain antibiotics, antidepressants, or diabetes management medications. In that case, you must avoid Naproxen or ibuprofen.

Even though NSAIDs are the first line of OTC meds for inflamed muscles, you may still find relief from acetaminophen. However, always check with your medical provider before taking any new medication to best avoid adverse effects.

Can Knots In the Shoulder Cause Headaches?

If you have a knot in your shoulder, you may notice that you're experiencing other pain too. This is because the muscles in your shoulder connect with many different joints, tendons, and ligaments. When one area isn't properly aligned or working, it can cause undue stress on other parts. The pain that results from the initial cause, the knot in your shoulder, is called secondary pain.

A tension headache is one of the most common kinds of secondary pain from a shoulder knot. In fact, the most frequent cause of tension headaches is muscle issues in the neck, head, and shoulders. A bad shoulder knot will likely cause a headache too.

Usually, the OTC medication you use to treat shoulder pain will help with your headache. Tension headaches can last days, making it essential to get rid of that knot in your shoulder as soon as possible.

How Do You Massage a Knot In Your Shoulder by Yourself?

If you can reach the knot in your shoulder by yourself, massaging it correctly is one of the most effective ways to relieve the pain. You can always ask someone to help if you can't reach it.

Identify Where the Knot Is

Start by identifying precisely where the knot is. You can do so by using your hands to find the area in your shoulder with a tight "bump" or what feels like a knot. This will be the most tender spot, and you'll notice that you experience much more pain when you touch the area than the surrounding muscle. This is the spot you need to target with a massage.

Use Your Hands to Massage the Area

You can give the knot the massage it needs in several ways. First, use two or three fingers to target the knot, press down firmly, and move them in a circular motion around the area. You'll likely feel a "click" or a slight movement as you go over the knot. You can also go back and forth over the knot instead of going in circles.

Use At-Home Instruments to Target the Area

Additionally, there are at-home massage instruments you can use. You can use a handheld vibrating massager in the area, again keeping the device directly over the knot. Keep it there for about ten minutes, using firm pressure.

Another great instrument is a "J Cane," also called a Thera Cane. J Canes are long, usually metal, instruments that curve like a "J" at the end. Many workout enthusiasts and athletes use them before or after sessions to maintain muscle mobility and blood flow. This is an excellent option if you can't reach the knot, as its length helps you get as far down your shoulder and back as necessary. At the end of the "J" is a small metal ball that you can use to perform the massage.

What Causes Muscle Knots In Shoulder Blades?

There are a few things that often cause muscle knots in shoulder blades. The first is a poor posture that causes a misalignment in your spine, affecting your surrounding muscles. To avoid this cause, become more aware of how you sit and stand or use a posture corrector throughout the day.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Other causes of shoulder knots include living a sedentary lifestyle. Working at a desk can cause tension in your muscles as they aren't actively moving and engaged. To avoid this, get up from your desk regularly, take a few laps around the office, or take a quick stroll outside on your lunch break.

In the evenings or on the weekends, get outside for something fun. Go hiking, start bicycling, or pick up a hobby sport. Some people enjoy using smartwatches to keep track of their steps. You should aim for 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day unless advised otherwise by your doctor.

Overuse of the Muscle

Additionally, overuse of the shoulder blade muscles can result in knots. Those who perform manual labor or repetitive motions all day are more likely to develop knots and muscle pain. Other causes of overuse can result from athletics, particularly ones that involve a lot of upper-body movement. Some examples are baseball, tennis, golf, basketball, and volleyball.

To avoid these types of overuse knots, hot and cold therapy, and gentle stretching before and after can help relieve pain.

Poor Sleep and Mattress Firmness

Often, people wake up from a bad night's sleep with knots in their shoulders. This can result from sleeping on a mattress that isn't suited for your sleep position, a mattress that is worn down and takes time to replace, or a pillow that doesn't provide adequate head and neck support. Keeping your spine correctly aligned during sleep is vital to maintaining daytime wellness.

If you frequently wake with shoulder knots, evaluate your bed and bedding and find a solution that works for you.

Traumatic Injury

A less common, but just as important, cause of frequent should muscle knots that won't go away is from a traumatic injury. These injuries may be a slip and fall, car accident, sports injury, and more. If this is the case, you should seek medical attention immediately and follow directions for recovery. These instructions may include rest, physical therapy, and chiropractic care.

Schedule an Appointment Today

If you have a muscle knot in your shoulder that won't go away, contact us today to schedule an appointment. We can help target the soft tissue in your shoulder to relieve knots and develop a plan to help you remain pain-free with whole-body holistic therapies.

About the Author:
Dr. Steven Schwartz
Raised in Coral Springs, Florida, Dr. Steven Schwartz is a major advocate for the South Florida community. CEO of ChiroCare of Florida, Dr. Schwartz has grown the group from one facility to 11. Whether he’s treating patients or volunteering for community service, Dr. Schwartz’s long-term goal is to ensure that each and every patient can experience the ChiroCare of Florida difference.
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