Read below about spontaneous upper back pain, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your spontaneous upper back pain 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.

This symptom can also be referred to as:
Upper back pain for no reason

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A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Spontaneous Upper Back Pain

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

  1. 1.Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

    Shingles (herpes zoster) is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus - the same virus that causes chickenpox. Early signs of shingles include burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching, usually on one side of the body or face. Rashes or blisters appear anywhere from one to 14 days later. If shingles appears on the face, it may affect vision or hearing.

    An episode usually lasts 2-4 weeks.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    symptoms of infection, dizziness, fatigue, rash, diarrhea
    Symptoms that always occur with shingles (herpes zoster):
    grouped rash, rash
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.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
  3. 3.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
  4. 4.Heart Attack in a Woman

    Most heart attacks happen when a clot in the coronary artery blocks the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. Often this leads to an irregular heartbeat - called an arrhythmia - that causes a severe decrease in the pumping function of the heart.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, pain in one arm, chest pain, shortness of breath
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service

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    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having spontaneous upper back pain.

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  5. 5.Aortic Dissection

    An aortic dissection occurs when blood gets between the walls of the aorta. The splitting of the wall can spread and send create dangerous blood clots.

    Mortality is high, even after surgery

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    being severely ill, chest pain, pain below the ribs, sharp chest pain, spontaneous upper back pain
    Symptoms that always occur with aortic dissection:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  6. 6.Osteoporotic Spinal Fracture

    Osteoporosis is a condition in which the density and quality of bone are reduced. Cracks can appear in the boney structures of the back (vertebrae) which can lead to back pain, back deformities and loss of height.

    Weeks to months

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    mid back pain, spontaneous mid back pain, unintentional weight loss, back pain affecting the spine, back deformity
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  7. 7.Spine Metastases

    Bone metastases occur when tumor cells migrate from the original tumor site and cause a secondary tumor elsewhere in the body. The spine is a common location for metastases to appear and symptoms generally include pain and tingling.

    Outcome is dependent on severity of disease and treatment given.

    Rarity:
    Ultra rare
    Top Symptoms:
    back pain, lower back pain, fatigue, mid back pain, urinary changes
    Symptoms that always occur with spine metastases:
    back pain
    Symptoms that never occur with spine metastases:
    back pain from overuse, lower back pain from an injury, mid back pain from an injury, mid back pain from overuse
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.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

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Spontaneous Upper Back Pain

  • 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.Is the pain in your upper back moving down your arm?

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

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Spontaneous Upper Back Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced spontaneous upper back pain have also experienced:

    • 5% Rib Pain
    • 4% Rib Pain on One Side
    • 3% Pain in One Arm
  • People who have experienced spontaneous upper back pain had symptoms persist for:

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

    • 40% Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
    • 30% Psoriatic Arthritis
    • 30% 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”).

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