Back pain when I sneeze: What to do? (Explanations)


The sneeze is a reflex that we all know and which appears in the event of a cold or other cause.

The fact to sneeze is the result of irritation of the nasal mucous membranes, which can be caused by different factors: dust to pollen, animal hair to smoke. It happens that sneezing is followed by back pain, which ranges from moderate to intense.

In this article we will try to understand why this happens and what you can do to remedy.

Spine anatomy: Definition

La spine is a bone column (vertebrae) which extends from the base of the skull at pelvis. The vertebrae are connected by joints called facets, and are held together by ligaments.

La spinal cord passes through a central channel in the vertebrae, and nerve roots branch out from the spinal cord to innervate the muscles and organs. The spine is divided into four regions:

  • Region thoracic : the thoracic spine is made up of twelve vertebrae,
  • Region lumbar : the lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae,
  • Region sacred : the sacral spine consists of five vertebrae.

The spine bones are protected by a layer of cartilage called intervertebral disc. The intervertebral disc acts as a shock absorber and allows flexibility of the spine.

When we sneeze, all these elements are put under tension and this can cause pain in different parts of the body, including the back. In most cases, this pain is mild and goes away on its own after a few minutes.

However, pain can sometimes be more intense and last several hours or even days. If this happens, it is important to know the exact cause.

What is a sneeze? Explanation

When you sneeze, your body is trying to expel something that is out of place. Sneezing is a reflex action, which means it is a auto reply to an irritant.

This irritant may be dust or foreign particle. When the irritant enters your nose, it triggers a series of actions. First, the nose hairs, called vibrissae, begin to wiggle back and forth to filter the air.

If the vibrissae fail to remove the irritant, they set off a chain reaction. The membranes inside your nose are irritated and swollen, and your nerves are sending a message to your brain to tell you to sneeze.

At the same time, your brain signals to muscles your chest and abdomen to contract. All this happens in a fraction of a second and results in a strong expulsion of air through the nose and mouth.

There are several possible causes of back pain when sneezing

You may never have considered the connection between sneezing and back pain, but there is a connection between the two. If you suffer from a herniated disc, you may have found that sneezing can make your back pain worse.

Indeed, sneezing increases pressure intra disc, which can put extra pressure on the discs in your spine. The pain may manifest in the lower back, middle back, between the shoulder blades, or radiate to the lower limb.

A herniated disc occurs when the outer layer of the disc ruptures, allowing the inner layer to expand. This can cause pain, numbness and weakness in the affected area.

To know everything about herniated disc, see the following article.

Why can a simple sneeze cause radiation like sciatica and cruralgia?

Everything is related to nerf sciatica. THE sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body, and it runs from your lower back to your feet. When you sneeze, the muscles in your abdomen contract and put pressure on the sciatic nerve.

This can cause a sharp pain in the leg, known as sciatica. In addition, sneezing can also cause cruralgia, which is a type of nerve pain affecting the thighs.

So the next time your back hurts after sneezing, you'll know there's a scientific reason for it!

It can also cause muscle spasms in the back and other parts of the body. The reason is that the sneeze is a powerful contraction of the diaphragm, the large muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen.

This contraction can cause a sudden arching of the spine, leading to muscle spasms.

Also, the sudden movement can put pressure on the spinal discs, leading to pain. However, these effects are usually temporary and go away on their own.

Sneezing and back pain: What to do?

The sneeze is an important reflex which helps protect your body from disease and infection.

When you sneeze, your body expels trapped particles, such as as dust, pollen or bacteria, your nose and your throat. While having a sudden fit of sneezing can be embarrassing, it's important to remember that sneezing is a natural and necessary process.

Treatment (of the cause of back pain)

For people suffering from chronic back pain, sneezing can be a major source of discomfort. The act of sneezing puts extra pressure on the spine, which can aggravate existing spinal problems

It is therefore important that people with back pain take steps to reduce their exposure to irritants and to treat the underlying cause of their back pain.

By doing so, they can minimize the risk of triggering a painful episode of sneezing.

How to relieve back pain? Our advices

If you are one of the 80% of adults who suffer from occasional back pain ou chronic, you might be wondering how relieve your back pain. Here are some of our top recommendations for relieving back pain:

  • Get moving: Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your back. Not only does it help strengthen the muscles that support your spine, but it also increases flexibility and helps reduce inflammation.
  • Try heat or cold therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation. Heat therapy can be done using a heating pillow, a hot water bottle or a hot compress, while cold therapy can be done using an ice pack, frozen vegetables or a cold compress.
  • Adopt a good posture: Maintaining an appropriate posture (not to be confused with bad posture) helps reduce the strain on your spine and may prevent further back pain. While sitting, standing or sleeping
  • Use support devices: There are several products and accessories available on the market to relieve lower back pain related to back pain. It should be remembered that these tools generally provide temporary relief, and should be used sparingly.

Among the products recommended by our professionals, we have:

What about natural remedies?

Like accessories and anti-back pain products, natural products and grandmother's remedies are very popular with people suffering from back pain.

Often, these remedies include anti-inflammatory properties to relieve various body pains.

On the other hand, it should be noted that most of these natural products are not scientifically proven. It is therefore important to speak to your doctor before using them, particularly to avoid any interaction with your medications.

Natural remedies that may relieve symptoms include (click on the product you are interested in for purchasing options):


Thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers very powerful, turmeric is one of the most used plants in a culinary and therapeutic context. The composition of turmeric is essentially made of essential oils, vitamins (B1, B2, B6, C, E, K) and trace elements. But it is to its composition rich in curcumin and curcuminoids that we owe them and calm skin of this spice.

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In addition to the particular flavor it brings to cooking and its aphrodisiac properties, ginger is a root well known for its anti-inflammatory powers. THE gingerol gives it its anti-inflammatory action. It is an active component acting on the inflammatory pain related to chronic joint inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, rheumatic diseases, etc. It has been proven that this active element is also effective in acting on the inflammation linked to arthritis and sciatica. Ginger also has other benefits thanks to its high potassium content and its richness in trace elements (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium) and vitamins (provitamin and vitamin B9).

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Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that play a very important role in the functioning of our body. They are provided by food in three natural forms: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Beyond their action on the brain and the cardiovascular system, omega-3s prove to be very effective against inflammation. Indeed, they have the ability to act on the inflammatory mechanisms in osteoarthritis by slowing down cartilage destruction, thus they reduce the intensity of osteoarthritis pain. Since sciatica is most often linked to inflammation secondary to a herniated disc, it can also respond to omega-3s if you consume them regularly. 

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Last updated on 2024-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from the Amazon Partners API

Lemon eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is a plant most often used in the form of herbal tea or essential oil. She would have anti-inflammatory effects which give it the ability to act on the bone and joint pain in general and the pain of sciatica in particular.

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  • Botanical name: eucalyptus citriodo.

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Wintergreen is a shrub from which a very interesting essential oil is extracted. It is one of the essential oils most used in aromatherapy. This oil, extracted from the shrub of the same name, is used in massage to relieve sciatica and act like a analgesic. Indeed, it provides a heating effect thanks to its ability toactivate blood circulation locally.

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Last updated on 2024-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from the Amazon Partners API

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