Read below about rib pain in the upper back, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your rib pain in the upper back from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having rib pain in the upper back

Take Quiz

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Rib Pain in the Upper Back

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced rib pain in the upper back. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Myofascial Pain Syndrome

    Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic musculoskeletal syndrome caused by trigger points within muscle. Pressure on these points causes pain in the area around the point as well as in other body parts, a phenomenon known as referred pain.

    Resolution of pain is dependent on type of treatment.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, spontaneous shoulder pain, pain in the back of the neck, tender muscle knot, general numbness
    Symptoms that always occur with myofascial pain syndrome:
    tender muscle knot
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Herniated (Slipped) Disk in the Upper Back

    The backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bones called vertebrae. In between the bones are soft disks filled with a jelly-like substance. These disks cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place. Although people talk about a slipped disk, nothing actually slips out of place. The outer shell of the disk ruptures, and the jelly-like substance bulges out. It may be pressing on a nerve, which is what causes the pain.A slipped disk is more likely to happen due to strain on the back, such as during heavy lifting, and older individuals are at higher risk.

    The pain associated with a slipped disk usually goes away within six weeks. If the pain lasts longer, consult a doctor. They may send you to see a back specialist for an MRI of your spine, and surgery may be considered.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    upper back pain, neck pain, arm weakness, back pain that gets worse when sitting, upper spine pain
    Symptoms that always occur with herniated (slipped) disk in the upper back:
    upper back pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Rib Pain in the Upper Back Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having rib pain in the upper back.

    Take Quiz
  3. 3.Vertebral Osteomyelitis

    Infection of the spinal bones (Vertebral Osteomyelitis) is caused by the spread of bacteria through the blood from another body part that lands in the spine. It's typically caused by bugs named Staph. Aureus (40-50% of the time), streptococci (12%), e.coli (9%), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (6%).

    6 weeks of antibiotics typically clears things up

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    upper back pain, spontaneous neck or back pain, fever, foot numbness, upper leg numbness
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  4. 4.Psoriatic Arthritis

    Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. Some people who have psoriasis also get a form of arthritis (inflammation and swelling of joints) called psoriatic arthritis.

    This type of arthritis can be managed with treatment, and permanent damage can be prevented. However, the underlying cause (psoriasis) is currently incurable.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    shoulder pain, lower back pain, joint pain, upper back pain, hip pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Rib Pain in the Upper Back

  • Q.Turn your head toward the side of your body that is hurting. Lift your head up as someone else pushes down on your head. Does this cause greater pain in your upper body? (This is known as Spurling's test.)
  • Q.What is your body mass?
  • Q.Do you feel a painful, tight knot or band in your muscle anywhere on the body?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our rib pain in the upper back symptom checker to find out more.

Take Quiz

Rib Pain in the Upper Back Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced rib pain in the upper back have also experienced:

    • 5% Rib Pain
    • 4% Rib Pain on One Side
    • 3% Pain in the Upper Right Abdomen
  • People who have experienced rib pain in the upper back had symptoms persist for:

    • 34% Less Than a Day
    • 27% Less Than a Week
    • 21% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced rib pain in the upper back were most often matched with:

    • 50% Vertebral Osteomyelitis
    • 25% Myofascial Pain Syndrome
    • 25% Herniated (Slipped) Disk in the Upper Back
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having rib pain in the upper back

Take Quiz