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Back hurts when you sneeze? Here's why and what to do about it

2 minutes, 41 seconds

Does your back hurt when you sneeze? Wondering why?

There are a few different types of sneeze-related back pain. In some cases, you might feel like you pulled a muscle when you let out a big sneeze. In other cases, you might feel soreness or a stinging sensation every time you sneeze.

To help you identify the root cause of your pain, we're going to break down the various reasons why your back might hurt when you sneeze.

Why does my back hurt when I sneeze?

Here are some potential explanations for your back pain:

  1. Sciatica Sciatica is a condition that occurs when a herniated disc slips out of the correct position in your spine and presses up against your sciatic nerve. Your sciatic nerve is the nerve that runs from your lower spine down both legs to your feet. Sneezing can push your spinal disc even further onto your sciatic nerve, causing further pain.
  2. Herniated discs ” Not all herniated discs cause sciatica. However, they can be painful on their own, especially if they press against your spinal cord. Sneezing can push the disc further into your spinal cord, increasing the back pain you feel when you sneeze.
  3. Vertebral compression fractures Vertebral compression fracture is the medical term for a collapse in a section of the vertebra. This is a frequent symptom of advanced osteoporosis. Sneezing is likely to cause back pain in people with VCF. However, sneezing can also cause VCF in patients with osteoporosis or another degenerative bone disease.
  4. Muscle strain ” Muscle strain occurs when you tear or overstretch a muscle. It can occur in any muscle in your body and can cause significant pain. Moving with a strained muscle is usually painful, especially if those movements involve bending or twisting your torso. Therefore, sneezing tends to hurt if you move your torso while you do it.
  5. Arthritis When you have arthritis, the cartilage around your joints wears down and allows your bones to rub against each other. This causes inflammation around your joint, and your joints hurt when you move them. Sneezing often produces involuntary movements, so your back might hurt if you have arthritis in your neck or spine.

How to prevent back pain when sneezing

Here are some tips for avoiding sneeze-related back pain:

  • Keep your back upright Bending forward when you sneeze can strain your back muscles and joints. Try your best to keep your back straightened to avoid pain.
  • Place your hands on your lap for support If you can't keep your back straight when you sneeze, put your hands on a table or your lap to support yourself when you sneeze
  • Seek physical therapy A physical therapist may be able to treat the underlying cause of your back pain. If you're unaware of any musculoskeletal conditions you might have, they can diagnose it and develop a customized treatment plan.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for back pain

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we're proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that's close to you and that can help you address back pain.

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.

Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.

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