Why Your Back Hurts When Sneezing or Coughing

When you strain your lower back during a workout session or while moving heavy boxes, you might notice that the pain arises when you sneeze or cough. Why does this happen and what can be done about it? Here are answers to your frequently asked questions about lower back strain.

Why Does Lower Back Strain Occur?

The bones of your spine are connected by muscles and ligaments, which are in turn connected to nerves that stretch through the entire body. With vigorous activity or injury, tiny tears can occur in these muscles and ligaments. This can lead not only to back pain, but also to discomfort in the shoulders, buttocks, chest, legs, and other parts of the body. In addition to pain when coughing or sneezing, lower back strain is characterized by muscle spasms, pain in the groin and upper legs, and pain when stretching or yawning.

Lower back strain can occur if you fall, bend or crouch repeatedly, or exert yourself physically, especially if you are out of shape. Improper posture or sitting in the same position for long periods of time, such as at a computer desk or while texting, can also play a role in the development of this condition.

How Is Lower Back Strain Treated?

Minor cases of lower back strain tend to resolve on their own. You can ease discomfort with rest, icing the affected area for 20 minutes at a time several times a day, and over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Resist the urge to become sedentary if your back is sore; light physical activity can prevent situational back pain from becoming chronic as unused muscles weaken.

You can also lower your risk for straining your back muscles by losing weight if you’re overweight, sleeping on your back rather than your stomach, and using correct posture when lifting heavy objects.

If lower back pain does not resolve itself despite these treatment measures, see your doctor, who can determine whether the pain is caused by something more serious than a strain. He or she will recommend imaging tests and other diagnostics that can rule out nerve damage and other issues. If your condition is severe, your primary care physician may suggest that you see a spine specialist.

Marc Cohen specializes in minimally invasive procedures and has experience working with individuals of the New Jersey area to seek resolution to their chronic back pain. We understand the limitations persistent back pain may be putting on your life. Get much-needed low back pain relief by speaking with a spine expert. Contact the Marc Cohen Spine Institute at one of our many locations to