Here’s why your back hurts when you cough or sneeze

After lifting heavy items or doing other physical activities that put stress on your spine, you might feel pain in your back when coughing or sneezing. Low back pain is the leading cause of disability around the globe, and at any point in time, more than 31 million Americans have low back pain. Coughing or sneezing can cause pain when you feel no pain otherwise, or intensify it.

What causes back pain?

Several sports and physical activities can increase pressure on the spinal disc and cause overstretching or overuse of your spine, which can lead to back pain. Also, if you had an injury in the past, doing a physical activity that involves pressure on the back can also reignite the pain. Improper posture, sitting for extended hours, sleeping in an unsupportive mattress, and mental even stress can also lead to back inflammation and pain.

How coughing or sneezing causes back pain?

Your spinal column is made of bones that are held together by ligaments and muscles. Many activities that put stress on your back can cause tiny tears in these tissues. This is known as low back strain, and the pain can float to other parts of the body such as shoulder, buttocks, and legs.

The pain gets worse when you cough because when coughing or sneezing, most people tend to hunch their back. This increases the pressure on the back up to 300%, which pulls on the tears creating a similar situation as stretching your bruised skin.
Check out this quick, informative video in which Dr. Jerome Fryer explains why your back hurts when you cough or sneeze and how you can avoid it with two simple tips:

How to prevent back pain when coughing?

Unless it’s severe and impacting your daily life, there are several things you can do to start treating back pain before seeing your physician. Before anything else, you want to avoid the pain when coughing or sneezing, and two things can help you with this. Firstly, try staying in an upright position and maintaining the natural arch in the back when coughing, so you don’t put extra pressure on it. Secondly, try holding on to something like a wall or desk with one hand when you have to cough or sneeze.

Making a few changes in your lifestyle can go a long way in treating your back pain. Maintaining a healthy weight, sleeping in a supportive mattress, improving sitting posture, walking and stretching after every 30-45 minutes if you have to sit at a desk all day, using lumbar support in your chair or car seat, lifting heavy items properly, eating healthy, and doing regular exercise will reduce the chances of you getting a back pain.

To treat low back pain and strengthen your core, in the long run, you need to give your back some rest so any tears can heal. This doesn’t necessarily mean staying bound to your bed or chair, but you should avoid the activities that can make the condition worse. Moreover, you can do certain exercises such as bridging, planks, and hip rotation clamshell. Heat or cold therapy can be helpful for quick relief. Initially, it might sound a lot, but if you gradually incorporate these tips into your lifestyle, you can lead a pain-free life.