Ferdinand suffered the problem while warm-up for his side’s fixture at Stoke on Boxing Day.
“Rio won’t play against Middlesbrough,” United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said on the club’s official website.
“He had a back spasm again. We have to get to the root of this, he’s had this back problem too many times, so we want to get to the bottom of it.
“First of all, we’ll give him complete rest, but I think he’ll be okay in about 10 days.”