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How Sneezing Can Cause Back Pain

By Sara Butler

The chiropractors at The Joint get a lot of questions about back pain. One source of back pain most people don’t think about is sneezing! You shouldn’t feel weird about it if you’ve experienced this common phenomenon, though – Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs famously had to sit out a game years ago due to back pain caused by a sneeze. It can truly happen to anyone. Here’s how sneezing can be a hazard to your spinal health and how your chiropractor can help.

The Risks of Sneezing

There are two ways that sneezing is a risky activity for your spinal health:

  • You turn your head – When you sneeze, it’s almost an automatic reaction to turn your head in order to aim away from people. While that’s awfully thoughtful of you, the violent contraction of the diaphragm, as well as several of the muscles that support the spine and neck combined with a twisted neck, can be a big problem. This one action often leads to sprains due to the intense stress the tissues are placed under.
  • The rapid rise of pressure – When you sneeze, there is a rapid buildup of pressure in your abdomen. The “ahh” is when the air is rapidly taken in right before the “choo” part of the sneeze. The rise in pressure causes an increase in pressure inside the spinal canal too, putting even more pressure on the discs that sit between your vertebrae for cushion. This can lead to injuries to the discs or even a pinched nerve along the way.

How to Avoid Injury

You can avoid injury from sneezing by following this practical advice from the chiropractors at The Joint. Your primary objective should be to reduce the stress placed on the spine when sneezing by retraining yourself to extend your neck and lower back when you feel a sneeze coming on. Most people try to bend forward but this only places more pressure on the back. If you can remember to do that, then you are on your way to a healthier back when you sneeze.

If you do happen to feel a sudden pain after a sneeze, then make sure to mention it to your chiropractor as soon as possible. Early intervention of an injury will often lead to better results in the long run – and don’t be embarrassed about how it happened. It happens to famous athletes, too!

If you have questions about sneezing or other ways you might injure your back, make sure to discuss it with the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic!

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Marietta, Ga.


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