Muscle Sport Magazine

Why Does My Back Hurt When I Sneeze?


Back pain, and lower back pain, in particular, are highly common. Around 65 million people in the states will have recently suffered an episode of back pain of some kind. For 8% of Americans, the condition is even worse.

About 16 million adults have back pain that negatively impacts their everyday life from work to physical activities such as sports. Directly and indirectly, back pain costs $12 billion a year in the US alone.

Sneezes can sometimes be so violent that they cause sudden back pain. But, they can also trigger symptoms of an existing problem. If you are encountering back pain when you cough or sneeze you may be interested to know why, and many people have found relief using cbd oil for pain.

What causes back pain while sneezing?

Sneezing in itself is a forceful action that can cause muscles to seize. This can cause sudden or unexpected pain in the back. This can simply be a temporary reaction to the sneeze and nothing to worry about.

However, violent sneezes can show symptoms of an existing back problem, and in some cases worsen it. And sneezing could even potentially cause a back problem.

The Doctor of Chiropractic at the Ideal Health & Wellness Center says that sneezing puts pressure on lower back muscles, and could cause a strain or tear. The back pain that is experienced when sneezing could be from several causes from simple muscle strains to more serious problems.

Is this back pain an indication of a more serious condition?

Sneezing can cause sudden pain but one that goes away straight after. For some people though, sneezing causes persistent back pain because there is a condition that hasn’t healed or hasn’t been diagnosed yet.

Many people assign to the no pain no gain mantra. But, it might be more manly to wait for an injury to heal than to battle through the pain. Ignoring back pain that occurs when sneezing may be akin to this and you could be storing worse problems for the future.

Possible causes of back pain when sneezing is:

  • Sciatica
  • Muscle strain
  • Vertebral compression fracture
  • Herniated disc


Sneezing can put pressure on nerves and cause spasms of pain. When this affects the sciatic nerve it can result in shooting pain down one or both legs.

Muscle strain

As mentioned before, a sneeze could actually cause muscle strain. But, it may put pressure on an area where you already have a tear, potentially making the problem worse.

Vertebral compression fracture

Perhaps the most worrying and serious is the potential for a sneeze to cause a fracture. A VCF is most likely to occur in someone with osteoporosis, and a sneeze can potentially be the cause.

Herniated disc

Not all herniated discs are painful, but if you sneeze you may suddenly be very aware of the problem. A sneeze can force the ruptured disc to push against a nerve causing sharp pain.

How can you stop your back from hurting when you sneeze?

Firstly, don’t try and hold your sneezes in. Although this can be tempting when you are suffering from sciatica or a herniated disc it could potentially damage blood vessels in your eyes and ears.

One recommendation by doctors is to try and stand when you feel a sneeze coming on. If you are able to, lean slightly forward and place your hands on a solid surface. This will take some pressure off your back muscles and your spine.

Try to make a mental note of the location of the pain too to inform your doctor. You may be getting some relief by avoiding exercises that cause back pain and from rest, but you may need some treatment too, or at least an examination.

If you have an injury from working out or lifting, you could try a lower back brace. This will also provide support when or if you sneeze.

Why you shouldn’t ignore your back pain

Some back pain is temporary, and everyone suffers from twinges and aches now and again. But, some causes of back pain are more serious. Left untreated, there are a number of back problems that can worsen as time passes.

In general, there are two kinds of back pain. Acute back pain is where it lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Chronic back pain represents a more serious condition and lasts for over 12 weeks.

Your doctor can recommend treatment or refer you to specialists instead. Chiropractic care can help with many back conditions, and orthopedic doctors also specialize in this area.

Ignoring some back problems can lead to permanent damage and ongoing chronic pain.


A sudden twinge after a sneeze is probably nothing to worry about. Yet, in some cases, it can cause ongoing pain. If you are experiencing pain in the same area every time you sneeze then you likely have an underlying problem with your back.

Report the pain you are experiencing and the location to your doctor or seek chiropractic help. Fortunately, most conditions involving back pain can be managed and treated effectively.

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