Ribs attach to the vertebrae of the upper back, called the thoracic spine. The rib joints from the second to the tenth vertebrae in the upper back make up what are called the costotransverse and costovertebral joints, located in the back of the vertebrae.
These joints, supported by ligaments, provide stability to the upper back and chest wall.
Dysfunction or degeneration of these joints and the ribs can lead to upper back pain, arm pain, pain between the ribs, and general discomfort in the back. Patients with these issues may be candidates for costotransverse or costovertebral joint injection to both help diagnose the condition and provide pain relief.