Why do you always get back pain when sneezing

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Answered by: Rainault, An Expert in the Back and Neck Pain - General Category
Sneezing is a natural reflex that helps free the body of irritants such as dirt, germs, pollen, and other pollutants that are found in the air. However, there are times when you may feel a sharp pain near your spine after a sneeze. Back spasms and pain after sneezing can be quite uncomfortable, especially if you often sneeze due to an allergic reaction. Luckily, there are steps that you can take to prevent the pain and discomfort that is experienced. Here you will learn some of the common causes of back pain during or after sneezing, and how you can prevent it.

What causes back pain?

The reason behind back spasms and pain after sneezing revolves around the way the body responds to the natural reflex. Here are the two body responses that are primarily to blame for back pain when sneezing.

Pressure buildup

When irritants are inhaled in the air, they penetrate the lining of the nose, and the brain immediately sends a nerve signal to get rid of them. The signal triggers a deep breath, causing a pressure buildup that tightens the chest. It also causes an increase in pressure in parts of the spinal cord such as the spinal canal, intervertebral discs, and the soft cushions between the vertebrae. A sudden rise in pressure in these areas can cause pain in the spine, back, and neck.

Sneezing technique

When you sneeze, you usually turn the neck the other way, especially if there are people around you. While this action may seem harmless, it is responsible for causing back and neck pain afterward. As you sneeze, the diaphragm and muscles that support the neck and spine experience a sudden contraction. When you turn your neck, you further constrict the muscles, subjecting them to intense stress which manifests as back, spine, and neck pain.

How can you avoid the pain?

There are some actionable steps that you can take to prevent back pain when sneezing. Since this is an unavoidable reflex, it may take some time to get a hang of it. First, when you sneeze, try to turn your whole body and not just the neck. Turning the neck alone strains the muscles and can cause severe pain. On the other hand, turning the whole body helps to maintain the spinal alignment and reduces the risk of causing muscle injury during the sneeze. It may take a while to adapt to this technique; therefore, don't beat yourself up if you are unable to get it right the first few times.

Second, try to keep your mouth open when sneezing, as this will help take off some of the pressure that’s already built up in your diaphragm and back muscles. As aforementioned, sneezing causes excessive pressure buildup in certain parts of the abdominal and spinal cord muscles. Opening your mouth can help to ease some of this pressure and reduce the chances of an injury.

Follow these tips to avoid back pain every time you sneeze. However, if the pain persists, it would be wise to see your doctor for a diagnosis and back adjustment.

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