One cause of rib and back pain includes joint dysfunction, states Spine-health.com. A person's ribs connect to the spine with two joints, and upper back and rib pain results when there is a dysfunction with these joints. Another cause of rib and back pain is fibromyalgia, according to WebMD.
To treat dysfunction, an osteopathic physician, physical therapist or chiropractor must manually mobilize the joints, states Spine-health.com. Patients can also perform home exercises that stretch and strengthen the spine and shoulders, and some doctors prescribe pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications and epidural injections to ease the pain.
Patients who suffer from fibromyalgia experience throbbing, stabbing and aching pain throughout the entire body, explains WebMD. This pain commonly manifests in the rib cage, lower back and upper back, but the shoulders, thighs and neck can also be affected. In addition to pain, the back can feel tender when it is touched. Although the condition is chronic, it is not life-threatening. While experts do not know exactly what causes fibromyalgia, some say it occurs when the brain and nerves have trouble processing pain feelings.
About 90 percent of people who experience fibromyalgia are women, and most people begin to experience symptoms between the ages of 20 and 40, notes WebMD. Some other symptoms of fibromyalgia are insomnia, chronic fatigue, headaches and irritable bowel syndrome.