Read below about upper back pain that shoots down the arm, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your upper back pain that shoots down the arm 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:
Radiating pain down the arm

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having upper back pain that shoots down the arm

Take Quiz

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Upper Back Pain That Shoots Down the Arm

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

  1. 1.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

    Upper Back Pain That Shoots Down the Arm Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having upper back pain that shoots down the arm.

    Take Quiz
  2. 2.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
  3. 3.Pinched Nerve in the Neck

    With age, disks separating the cervical vertebrae (which are the bones of your spine in your neck) lose height as well as lose water content, becoming stiffer. The vertebrae move closer together, and nerves that exit between these bones may be pinched, causing pain to travel down the nerve as it passes through the arm. The pain is usually sharp, and some people report a "pins and needles" sensation or even complete numbness.

    Majority of patients get better with time (weeks to months).

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, spontaneous shoulder pain, pain that radiates down arm, pain in the back of the neck, severe shoulder pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Upper Back Pain That Shoots Down the Arm

  • 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.What makes your back pain worse?

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

Take Quiz

Upper Back Pain That Shoots Down the Arm Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced upper back pain that shoots down the arm have also experienced:

    • 15% Pain in One Shoulder
    • 13% Shoulder Pain That Shoots to the Arm
    • 5% Pain in One Shoulder Blade
  • People who have experienced upper back pain that shoots down the arm had symptoms persist for:

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

    • 33% Herniated (Slipped) Disk in the Upper Back
    • 33% Myofascial Pain Syndrome
    • 33% Pinched Nerve in the Neck
  • 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 upper back pain that shoots down the arm

Take Quiz