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Deep Knots in Shoulder Blades

Deep Knots in Shoulder Blades Symptoms of TMJ

Experiencing deep knots in your shoulder blades can be a persistent and uncomfortable issue. These knots, often referred to as muscle knots or myofascial trigger points, can cause significant pain and restrict your range of motion. While muscle knots can occur in various parts of the body, those in the shoulder blades can be particularly bothersome due to their impact on daily activities and overall quality of life. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and potential treatments for deep knots in the shoulder blades is crucial for finding relief and improving your well-being. This blog, presented by Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, will explore these aspects in detail, including how TMJ treatment might be an unexpected yet effective solution for some individuals.

Symptoms of Deep Knots in Shoulder Blades

Identifying the symptoms of deep knots in the shoulder blades is the first step toward addressing the issue. The following are common signs that you might be experiencing muscle knots in this area:

  1. Localized Pain and Tenderness: One of the most noticeable symptoms is localized pain in the shoulder blade area. The pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation. The affected area may also be tender to the touch.
  2. Muscle Tightness: Muscle knots cause the muscles to tighten and contract. This tightness can make it difficult to move your shoulder blades and upper back freely, leading to stiffness and discomfort.
  3. Referred Pain: In some cases, the pain from muscle knots can radiate to other areas, such as the neck, upper back, and arms. This referred pain can make it challenging to pinpoint the exact source of the discomfort.
  4. Reduced Range of Motion: Deep knots in the shoulder blades can limit your ability to move your shoulders and arms. You may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks that require reaching or lifting.
  5. Muscle Weakness: Over time, the continuous tension in the muscles can lead to weakness. You might notice a decrease in strength and endurance in the affected area.
  6. Headaches: Muscle knots in the shoulder blades can contribute to tension headaches, especially if the knots are close to the neck and upper back.

Causes of Deep Knots in Shoulder Blades

Understanding the causes of muscle knots in the shoulder blades can help you take preventive measures and seek appropriate treatment. The following are common factors that contribute to the development of these knots:

  1. Poor Posture: Maintaining poor posture, such as slouching or hunching over a desk, can put excessive strain on the muscles in the shoulder blades. Over time, this strain can lead to the formation of muscle knots.
  2. Stress and Anxiety: Emotional stress and anxiety can cause muscle tension throughout the body, including the shoulder blades. Prolonged periods of stress can result in chronic muscle knots.
  3. Repetitive Movements: Engaging in repetitive activities, such as typing, lifting, or performing manual labor, can overwork the muscles in the shoulder blades, leading to knots.
  4. Lack of Physical Activity: A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to muscle stiffness and the development of knots. Regular physical activity helps keep the muscles flexible and healthy.
  5. Injuries: Injuries to the shoulder blades, such as sprains or strains, can cause muscle knots as the body attempts to protect and stabilize the injured area.
  6. Poor Sleep Position: Sleeping in an awkward position can lead to muscle tension and the formation of knots in the shoulder blades.
  7. Nutritional Deficiencies: A lack of essential nutrients, such as magnesium and potassium, can affect muscle function and contribute to the development of muscle knots.

Treatments for Deep Knots in Shoulder Blades

Addressing deep knots in the shoulder blades requires a multifaceted approach. Here are several effective treatment options:

  1. Massage Therapy: Massage therapy is a popular and effective treatment for muscle knots. A skilled massage therapist can apply pressure to the knots, helping to release the tension and improve blood flow to the affected area.
  2. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design a personalized exercise and stretching program to target the muscles in the shoulder blades. These exercises can help improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion.
  3. Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected area can provide relief from pain and inflammation. Heat therapy helps relax the muscles, while cold therapy reduces swelling and numbs the pain.
  4. Trigger Point Injections: In some cases, a healthcare provider may recommend trigger point injections. These injections deliver a small amount of anesthetic and corticosteroid directly into the knot, providing relief from pain and inflammation.
  5. Self-Massage Tools: Foam rollers, massage balls, and other self-massage tools can be used at home to target muscle knots. These tools allow you to apply pressure to the knots and perform self-myofascial release.
  6. Stress Management Techniques: Practicing stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, can help reduce muscle tension and prevent the formation of knots.
  7. Improving Posture: Paying attention to your posture and making ergonomic adjustments to your workspace can prevent strain on the shoulder blades and reduce the risk of muscle knots.
  8. Adequate Hydration and Nutrition: Staying hydrated and consuming a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients can support muscle health and prevent the development of knots.

How TMJ Treatment Can Help with Shoulder Blade Knots

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, commonly referred to as TMJ disorders, affect the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. While TMJ disorders are primarily associated with jaw pain, clicking sounds, and difficulty chewing, they can also contribute to muscle tension in other parts of the body, including the shoulder blades. Here’s how TMJ treatment can help alleviate shoulder blade knots:

  1. Relieving Muscle Tension: TMJ disorders can cause excessive muscle tension in the jaw, neck, and upper back. This tension can radiate to the shoulder blades, leading to the formation of knots. TMJ treatment aims to relax the muscles and reduce overall tension, which can indirectly benefit the shoulder blades.
  2. Improving Posture: TMJ disorders often result in poor posture as individuals try to compensate for the discomfort in their jaw. This poor posture can contribute to muscle knots in the shoulder blades. TMJ treatment, provided by a TMJ specialist like Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, can help improve posture by addressing the underlying jaw issues.
  3. Reducing Referred Pain: TMJ disorders can cause referred pain that extends beyond the jaw and into the neck, shoulders, and upper back. By treating the TMJ disorder, the referred pain can be reduced, alleviating the discomfort in the shoulder blades.
  4. Customized Treatment Plans: A TMJ specialist can develop a customized treatment plan that addresses both the TMJ disorder and its associated symptoms, including shoulder blade knots. This comprehensive approach can provide more effective relief compared to treating the symptoms in isolation.
  5. Non-Invasive Techniques: TMJ treatment often involves non-invasive techniques, such as oral splints, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications. These approaches can be beneficial for individuals who prefer to avoid more invasive treatments for their muscle knots.


Deep knots in the shoulder blades can significantly impact your quality of life, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Understanding the symptoms and causes of these knots is essential for finding effective treatments and preventive measures. While traditional approaches like massage therapy, physical therapy, and stress management techniques can provide relief, it’s important to consider the potential role of TMJ treatment in addressing muscle tension and referred pain in the shoulder blades. Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, a TMJ specialist, offers comprehensive treatment plans that can help alleviate the discomfort associated with both TMJ disorders and TMJ related muscle knots. By taking a holistic approach to your health and well-being, you can find lasting relief and improve your overall quality of life.