The rhomboid muscle is located in your upper back, connecting your shoulder blades to your spine. When you overuse your shoulder or arms, the rhomboid muscle can spasm. Activities that can induce spasms include reaching for things on a high shelf, serving a tennis ball, sitting for long periods in front of a computer or carrying something heavy on your shoulders for a prolonged time. Symptoms include pain in your back and shoulders and tightness in the muscle.
Using hot and cold therapies are the best way to treat a spasm in your rhomboid muscle. For the first few days following the injury, apply an ice pack for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours. If the pain persists beyond 2 to 3 days, it is okay to continue icing it. The best method is placing crushed ice in a bag or an ice pack on the floor and then lying down with your rhomboid on the ice. If the problem is chronic or if the injury recurs, applying warm, moist towels to the rhomboid muscle can be helpful.
If your pain is severe, your doctor may recommend you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, which are available over the counter. However, it is important to take these medications on a limited basis because they can cause problems with digestion if taken on a prolonged basis. If these drugs do not work, your doctor may prescribe something stronger, such as an opiate or a muscle relaxant. It is also important to take these on a limited basis because they can become habit-forming.
Your doctor may also suggest you go to physical therapy if the injury does not resolve on its own. The therapist will lead you through a series of exercises designed for rehabilitating the muscle. It is important not to engage in any activities that will overuse the rhomboid. If you are an active person, you may have to switch to running or biking while your muscle heals. Another helpful therapy is massage. You an either see a massage therapist or massage yourself by placing a tennis ball on the floor, lying down with your rhomboid on the tennis ball and rolling the ball on the muscle.