What Causes Latissimus Dorsi Cramps, Know its Symptoms & Treatment

Overview on Latissimus Dorsi Cramps

Latissimus Dorsi Cramps arise due to strained latissimus dorsi muscle. This condition is known to affect the spinal region, shoulders and the upper arms. The strain follows pain and restriction of use of muscles. Lack of use muscles causes muscle atrophy and wastage. Muscle wastage and pain leads to the occurrence of muscle atrophy which further hampers the movement of arms, back and the shoulders. This condition usually occurs due to the repetitive movement of the shoulder, arms or back region which results in pain due to the over usage. Any pain in the latissimus dorsi muscle is very difficult to determine because of multiple paravertebral muscles, which surrounds the Latissimus Dorsi muscles. Similar strain in any one of these muscles can cause similar symptoms and sign. The back and arm pain caused by Latissimus Dorsi cramp is not a common symptoms. Hence, a vigilant and careful diagnosis is a must in order to identify the condition.

What Can Cause Latissimus Dorsi Cramps?

What Can Cause Latissimus Dorsi Cramps?

Latissimus Dorsi muscle has a role to play in a majority of activities performed by the body. Thus, there are many causative factors that may result in straining of the muscle which can cause latissimus dorsi cramp; prime cause amongst which is the repetitive and continuous activity involving the muscle. Some of the other causes are listed below:

  • Repetitively reaching forward or overhead
  • Constant pushing up and pulling down of the arms
  • Repeated movement of shoulder blades
  • Throwing and pulling of heavy objects.

The common activities that can result in the Latissimus Dorsi Cramps are swimming, baseball, gymnastics, chopping wood, shoveling, swinging and rock climbing.

Symptoms of Latissimus Dorsi Cramps

Symptoms of Latissimus Dorsi Cramps Include:

  • Tingling sensation along with numbness and pain all through the arm.
  • Pain in the middle region of the back near the lower part of the shoulder blade.
  • Pain in the sides of the back.
  • Difficulty and pain faced in the arms while reaching forward or overhead.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Pain gets worse with performing arm and shoulder based activities.

Treatments to Get Relief from Latissimus Dorsi Cramps?

The healing of the Latissimus Dorsi Cramps take time depending upon the extent of injury. The key rules for speedy recovery involve:

  • Maintain restricted activities, which provoke pain for 2 to 4 weeks. So injured muscles fibers gets enough time to heal.
  • Practicing good posture with frequent body movement to prevent the chances of muscle spasms.
  • Massaging the ailing area, though painful initially but it helps the muscles to relax and relieve the latissimus dorsi cramps.
  • As dehydration causes latissimus dorsi muscles to cramp and form knots, it is important to prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water.
  • Apply anti-inflammatory ointment or lotion over the most painful area.
  • Take a course of Motrin or Tylenol for 1 to 2 weeks to heal muscle injury and inflammation.

Apart from following the above rules there are various treatments available that help in lessening the pain due to Latissimus Dorsi cramps. These include:

  • Rest: Ample amount of rest is required so as to help the injury heal fast. In order to resume activities, one must assess the amount of pain felt and then accordingly take up activities, to ensure that the pain does not get worse.
  • Cold/Ice Application: Application of ice is commonly advised in such case of injury, as it helps greatly in reducing the inflammation caused as well as the pain. It should be applied at least three times a day for a span of twenty minutes for at least two days post the injury.
  • Heat Application: Heat application greatly helps in loosening and relaxing the muscles which provides a great comfort and soothes the pain caused due to the injury. It also helps in increasing the blood flow to the injured area initiating a faster recovery.
  • Stretching: Stretching helps in pain easement but it should be kept in mind that the stretching exercises should not be done to the extent that the pain gets aggravated.
  • Medications: There are various oral anti-inflammatory medications available that help in relieving pain and swelling. Though the relief is temporary but it greatly helps in subsiding pain.
  • Physiotherapy: When the rest, medications and other treatments fail to provide the required relief then physiotherapy consultation becomes must. These sessions include exercises and treatments that help in regaining the previous muscle strength and ability.

Warning Signs to Notice for Latissimus Dorsi Cramps

Latissimus Dorsi cramp does not cause trouble even when there exists tenderness and tightness within the muscle which makes it quite difficult to be identified. Since the onset of latissimus dorsi cramps usually get undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, thus it becomes imperative that the presence of other conditions should be observed and monitored. Thoracic outlet syndrome, Brachial plexus entrapment, Frozen shoulder, Ulnar Neuropathy, Bicipital tendinitis, Charcot’s joint, Slipped Rib syndrome, Bruised Ribs, Kidney Infection, Gallbladder Pain, Liver Pain, Spleen Pain and Heart Pain must be overruled for the diagnosis of latissimus dorsi cramp and pain.

When to Seek Help?

Acute condition of latissimus dorsi cramps is usually treated with the help of basic measures like rest stretching, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs and heat as well as ice application. However, in case these measures fail to provide relief rather pain gets worse, then consulting a clinician becomes must. On consultation, doctor may provide additional pain management options along with physiotherapy to control the pain.


Latissimus Dorsi cramps occur in the largest muscle in the back called latissimus dorsi. These cramps are usually uncommon but when they occur, the pain caused is draining and weakening. It is usually caused as a consequence of strained muscle due to repetitive and continuous motion of arms and shoulders. The key to the recovery from the condition lies in ample amounts of rest to help the muscle recover from injury.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 3, 2018

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