Upper back pain between the shoulder blades can be caused by several factors, some of which are quite simple to treat and some more complicated. Poor posture is a very common cause of back pain, as is spinal compression and the more serious herniated disc. The pain may also be a referred pain, a type of pain that originates in one part of the body but spreads and is felt in other places not directly affected by the condition. Issues with the stomach or esophagus can cause referred upper back pain, for example.
A more serious condition that may result in upper back pain between the shoulder blades is biliary colic, which is a condition that usually causes pain in the abdomen. It occurs when bile produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder gets blocked by gallstones and cannot do its job of helping to break down fats. Muscles within the body try to move the stones, which can lead to pain, usually in the right side of the abdomen. Sufferers of gall stones often report referred pain between the shoulder blades, perhaps as a result of the muscle strain occurring within the body.
Poor posture can put excess pressure and strain on the neck and shoulders, leading to pain in the upper back. Such pain often occurs in people who sit for long periods of time, especially if those people spend a significant amount of time staring at a computer. If the computer screen is in a position that forces the neck to bend unnaturally for long periods of time, or if the computer's keyboard is in such a position that the user must thrust his or her arms forward, upward, or downward to use it, pain may result in the neck and shoulders. Muscles often begin to tire from holding the positions for so long, and when this happens, they tend to tighten. This can cause discomfort in the neck and shoulders, as well as between the shoulder blades.
Spinal compression can also lead to pain in these areas. Such compression occurs throughout the day as gravity pulls down on the body, and usually rest or stretching will be enough to alleviate the pain. Spinal compression can lead to herniated discs in the spine, however, which is a more troublesome condition that can cause nerve pain throughout the body, including between the shoulder blades, depending on the position of the herniated disc.