Tips to Avoid Back Pain when Coughing & Sneezing

8 Tips to Avoid Back Pain when Coughing & Sneezing

Back pain is a common problem that affects many people and can be caused by various factors. One of the surprising causes of back pain is something as simple as sneezing or coughing. These actions often lead to arching of the lower back, which can result in strain and injury.
Similarly, activities such as standing on your toes or stretching your body can also cause damage to your back muscles and spine. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of these seemingly harmless movements and take steps to prevent or alleviate back pain.

That's because spinal nerves connecting themselves throughout your body run through chunks of your muscles in the low back region. When one is present with injury, these sensitive nerves are easily irritated, more so than usual.

Learn more about how to avoid back pain when coughing or sneezing and the most common causes.

Can sneezing cause back pain?

The back plays a crucial role in almost all upper body movements, including lifting, reaching, bending, turning, playing sports, sitting, and standing. Hence, it is important to maintain the proper functioning of your spine and back muscles.

Despite the strength of your back muscles and spine, they are susceptible to strains and injuries. Often, individuals may experience back pain due to lifting heavy objects or over-exerting themselves during yard work.

Moreover, sudden awkward movements, such as a violent sneeze, can also trigger back pain that may last for a few seconds or prolonged periods.

Furthermore, when an individual sneezes, the diaphragm, and intercostal muscles, located between the ribs, contract to expel air from the lungs.

A forceful sneeze can strain the chest muscles and cause spasms in the back muscles if they are unprepared for the sudden movement. Such spasms can be involuntary and cause significant pain.

In addition, a violent sneeze can also result in ligament, nerve, or disc injuries, similar to the injuries that can occur in the neck from whiplash. While a herniated disc usually occurs over time due to wear and tear, a single excessive strain can also cause a disc to bulge outward.

How to Avoid Back Pain When Coughing or Sneezing

According to doctors and physiotherapists, instinctively curling forward is the worst thing you can do when coughing or sneezing. This increases pressure inside the discs of the spine by over 300%.

If you already have a back disc tear, bending forward too quickly can cause sudden pain in your nerves due to this pressure. A great way to prevent any damage is by sitting correctly in the first place. By sitting straight and tall, these symptoms will diminish over time!

If you are one of the many people who experience back pain when coughing or sneezing, We have a few quick-fix solutions that may help you:

1. Cold Therapy

In today's modern world, one way to reduce inflammation and pain would be to apply ordinary cold therapy packs. The skin will constrict blood vessels in painful areas when exposed to something cold, such as ice or a cold compress.

This causes a reduction in body temperature, and why someone who falls into a frozen lake may lose consciousness. Once this happens, there will be less blood flow, especially if the nerve receptors are blocked. Less blood flow means less inflammation.

There are many ways to ease the pain of a muscular backache, but one of the most reliable is cold therapy. This can be done in two different ways: your back pain can be actively treated by applying a cold compress for fifteen to thirty minutes at a time or by applying an cold pack after coughing, sneezing, or physical activity.

Just avoid ice cubes for muscle knots or muscle spasms, as the coldness of iced water can worsen these types of pains.

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    2. Heat Therapy

    Heat is great for several types of back pain, although it is ideal for muscle knots and muscle aches. It works by releasing the tension, which relieves the soreness and pain in your lower back. Heat can be released in various forms, such as herbal heating pads or even hot water bottles placed on sensitive areas we'd like to pay close attention to (i.e., muscles).

    And if you decide to use this type of recovery method, it's important not only to use heat but also to give your body plenty of room where you won't feel uncomfortable while resting within that area.

    Heat therapy is best used for muscular pain and joint soreness. Applying heat to the affected area helps increase blood flow, leading to quick healing and reduced pain.

    However, when using heat therapies, remember that more isn't always better. Depending on your body's sensitivity, try 20 minutes at a time, every day or every other day, until you find what works best for you.

    However, heat can worsen inflammation, so it should not be used in the first 72 hours following a new injury.

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    3. Keep your Back Arched

    When someone sneezes, do they immediately fold their body in half, like it's some awkward attempt at a yoga pose? That's because the simplest way to breathe out your nose doesn't involve more than opening up your mouth and making loud noises.

    One of the worst things you can do when you get sick is hunching over and rounding your back, which compresses the spinal discs, which feels uncomfortable for most people. The best way to prevent pressure in the spinal discs and prevent discomfort is to make sure your back keeps its natural arch when you cough or sneeze.

    4. Support Yourself

    When coughing or sneezing, keep your head still and bend forward. Keep your back as straight as possible while bending forward. This should affect the smallest amount of stress. If the cough or sneeze is strong enough to pain you, take some time off to protect yourself in the best way possible.

    If you feel a cough or sneeze coming on, place your hand down on something like a desk or ledge. This decreases the compressive effects on the spine. Unfortunately, while the above quick tips are incredibly effective, they're not always enough to effectively treat back pain.

    5. TENS Therapy

    Do you know when you get a backache after you've sneezed or coughed, and nobody can console you while the pain is still raging? Well, there's something out there that can help with your excruciating pain—TENS therapy!

    This therapy uses low-voltage electrical currents to relax muscles and alleviate the symptoms of soreness caused by coughing and sneezing. It's great for those suffering from chronic lower back pain, joint problems, inflammation, and much more! The good news is that this method is convenient and portable enough to do in your own home!

    6. Rest

    Resting your back doesn't mean staying bed-bound for weeks. It means taking time out of activities that cause or exacerbate your back pain. However, too much rest may worsen your situation and leave you wondering why you didn't do something about the problem sooner.

    Recognize when the simple act of rest helps reduce or alleviate some pain or participate in activities that keep your body fit and flexible, such as stretching and yoga. Avoidance can help prevent further injury, restore strength through proper posture, promote healing and prevent limitations of daily life, and allow time for your body to heal.

    Stay down for a maximum of a few hours for maximum benefits and only for up to two days. Stay comfortable and reduce pressure on the discs and muscles by placing a pillow under your knees when lying on your back or between your knees when lying on your side.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Weight

    Back pain is a common problem for those with excessive fat stored around the midsection. That's because there is additional pressure on the spine due to the increased mass above it. In addition, regularly coughing or sneezing adds to the strain and makes it more likely that an individual will experience back pain regularly.

    No one wants to carry excess weight, but it's a common problem that affects countless people. Thankfully, you can take steps to manage your weight. For example, you lose many extra pounds through diet, exercise, and regular monitoring.

    In that case, the benefits will be long-lasting in terms of feeling healthier while reducing any risk of serious issues in the future. In addition, investing in a good-quality digital scale is highly recommended, so you can enjoy tracking your progress.

    8. Always Lift with Your Legs

    You don't want to get a stiff or sore back! Like most exercise injuries, back pain is preventable, and you can reduce your risk of suffering an injury by following some easy tips. For starters, use proper lifting techniques by keeping your knees and elbows slightly bent while exercising.

    This will supply you with enough power without putting yourself at unnecessary risk. Another helpful tip is always to ensure that only one of your joints can bend or twist at a time. If you lift weights at the gym, ask a fitness professional for advice on proper form.

    How to protect your back when sneezing

    If you are experiencing back pain and feel a sneeze coming on, assuming a standing position rather than remaining seated is recommended to protect your back. This is because standing decreases the force placed on the spinal discs.

    According to a 2014 study, additional benefits can be gained when sneezing by leaning forward and placing your hands on a sturdy surface, such as a table or counter. This can alleviate pressure on the spine and back muscles. Standing with a cushion against your lower back while pressing against a wall may also provide relief.

    How to prevent back pain when sneezing

    Stay upright

    It is advisable to avoid the natural tendency to hunch forward when sneezing, as the force of a sneeze can exert significant pressure on the back, causing strain. 

    It is also customary to turn one's head away from others in a room while sneezing as a sign of courtesy. However, this practice can be potentially harmful to the neck. Maintaining an upright posture and facing forward while sneezing can help reduce compression on the vertebrae. 

    Therefore, it is recommended to take precautionary measures to prevent any possible injury or discomfort.

    Support yourself

    An effective technique for minimizing the strain on your back while you sneeze is to place both hands on a supportive surface and maintain the natural curvature of your spine. This method distributes the force of the sneeze evenly throughout your body, ensuring that your back is not overburdened.

    When to see a doctor

    Suppose you experience acute back pain that does not improve with self-care measures within a two-week timeframe or deteriorates. In that case, it is recommended that you schedule a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider. 

    It is crucial to seek prompt medical attention if you are experiencing back pain and:

    • pain that goes from your back, down your leg, to below your knee
    • any other sudden or unusual symptoms like a high fever or abdominal pain
    • loss of sensation in your low back, hip, legs, or groin area
    • loss of bladder or bowel control
    • a history of cancer

    A word from Sacksy Thyme

    Experiencing lower back pain upon sneezing can be concerning. This symptom may arise from various causes, ranging from a simple muscle strain to a herniated disc.

    If you are experiencing significant discomfort following a forceful sneeze, there are several steps you can take at home to alleviate the pain. These include anti-inflammatory pain relievers, heat or cold therapy, and gentle exercise. 

    However, suppose your pain persists for over a few weeks or is accompanied by other symptoms. In that case, it is crucial to seek medical attention to ensure prompt evaluation and treatment of any underlying conditions.

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