Lower Back Pain When Sneezing

Sneezing is a perfectly normal bodily function. This involuntary air release helps you eliminate irritants such as dirt, dust, and other allergens from your nose and throat.
However, some people experience back pain or discomfort when they sneeze, and this definitely isn’t normal.
If you experience lower back pain when sneezing, then this article is for you. We examine what causes back pain when sneezing, and what you can do to alleviate the resultant pain and discomfort and protect your back.

Why Does My Back Hurt When I Sneeze?

Your back consists of your spine, or backbone, and related muscles. It is your body’s central support, connecting various parts of your musculoskeletal system. This structure helps you walk, turn, twist, sit, stand, and bend, among other everyday activities.
When you sustain an injury to your back, or if your backbone and muscles succumb to disease, it can result in chronic back pain. Additionally, sudden movements, such as coughing or sneezing, can trigger lower back pain.
This pain occurs because sneezing causes an unexpected tensing of back muscles resulting in a spasm or an involuntary and painful muscle contraction occurring in one or more back muscles. A forceful sneeze can also injure nerves, ligaments, and the spinal discs between the vertebrae, resulting in additional pain.

Possible Causes of Lower Back Pain When Sneezing

Are you one of those people asking, “Why is it that when I sneeze my body hurts?” It is important for you to know that violent sneezes can trigger or worsen various back-related musculoskeletal and nerve conditions.
Some of these include the following.


The sciatic nerve runs from the lower spine to the pelvis, where it branches into two and continues down to each leg. If this major nerve sustains damage, it can cause lower back pain and leg pain.
Sneezing puts pressure on this nerve, causing acute pain that can spread to the back and down one or both legs.

lower back pain when sneezing

Muscle Strain

Muscle strains are caused when a muscle is pulled, stretched, or torn due to injury or trauma. Such strains often cause pain and discomfort, especially when moving, turning, standing, sitting, or bending.
If you have muscle strain in your back, a sudden sneeze can induce pressure on the affected muscles, thus causing acute pain. In some instances, the reverse is true; the sneeze can actually cause muscle strain.

Herniated Disc

The vertebrae (or spinal discs) are stacks of bones surrounding your spinal cord and forming the spine. When these discs rupture, the soft interior can push through the bone and exert pressure on the spinal cord or nearby nerves. This condition is known as a herniated disc.
Sneezing, coughing, or any other sudden action can cause intense pain as it triggers the soft interior to exert added pressure against a nerve, which manifests as a spasm of pain.

Vertebral Compression Fracture (VCF)

Another possible cause of lower back pain when sneezing is vertebral compression fracture (VCF). This condition occurs when a part of your vertebra collapses due to everyday activities; they may be aggravated by lifting a heavy object or stepping out of the shower. VCF can also be caused by brittle bone disease, aka osteoporosis.
Sudden sneezing or coughing can also cause your vertebrae to collapse, and this, in turn, causes pain.

Related: How Many Chiropractic Sessions Do I Need?

My Back Hurts When I Sneeze: How Can I Protect My Back When Sneezing?

Suppose you experience lower back pain when sneezing; in that case, you can protect your back from further injury by gently standing up straight, preferably against a wall with a cushion protecting your lower back. Thus, you reduce the force on your spinal discs, which prevents them from incurring further damage.
You may also protect your back by leaning forward and putting your hands on a nearby counter or table as you sneeze, taking the pressure off your back muscles and spine.

Final Thoughts

If you are living with a chronic back condition, you’re probably aware that something as small as a sneeze or cough could trigger intense pain. A simple way to relieve lower back pain when sneezing or coughing is to gently assume a neutral sitting or standing position. However, if the pain persists, take note of where the pain is and book an appointment to see a medical professional for assistance.
At Sunrise Chiropractic, we have over 20 years of experience serving athletes, individuals, and other people with back problems in Citrus Heights, CA, and the surrounding areas. Led by Dr. Doug Loehrer, a highly trained and experienced chiropractor, our clinic has seen tremendous success in helping patients resolve their back issues.
If you have back pain that simply won’t go away, especially if you experience back pain when sneezing, call 916-727-6400 to schedule an appointment for highly effective chiropractic treatment.

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