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If you have chronic back pain, sneezing can be particularly painful. Your muscles are already tense and strained because of your chronic back pain, which makes sneezing even more challenging and painful.

However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid sneezing altogether. If anything, it just means that there are some things you need to think about in order to ease the strain on your back when you sneeze. 

If you suffer from back pain when sneezing, read on to find out more about why that happens and how to ease the pain.

What is the cause of back pain when sneezing?

When you sneeze, the sudden increase in pressure causes the vertebrae of your spine to snap forward. This forward movement can make the bones of your spine rub against each other, which can cause back pain when you sneeze.

Sneezing can also cause pain in the lower back if you have an infection or inflammation in your abdomen. Your abdomen is located below your spine, so any swelling or infection there can push against and irritate the bones of your lower back.

Another common cause of back pain when sneezing is pain resulting from muscle strain.

How to relieve back pain when sneezing?

There are several quick and easy ways to ease back pain when sneezing.

Try to relax

Tensing your muscles will only increase the pain and make it worse. Breathe deeply and try to ease your anxiety.

Wash your lower back

Warm water will help relieve the pain, clean the area, and speed the healing process.

Use a hot pack 

This will open blood vessels, relax tense muscles, and help relieve pain.

Take some painkillers

They will reduce pain and inflammation and will help you feel better faster.


if the pain becomes unbearable, rest until it subsides, even if it means taking a day off.

Stretches for back pain caused by sneezing

Lower back pain when sneezing can be a symptom of an abdominal infection and inflammation. Abdominal infections can spread to your lower back and cause pain. The best way to ease this pain is to take painkillers and rest until the pain subsides.

You can also do these easy stretches to strengthen and stretch your back:

  • Lay on your back and raise both legs up, knees bent, and hands behind your head. To increase the stretch, gently pull your knees towards your chest.
  • Standing with both legs wide apart and one hand on the waist, gently bend one leg and lower the heel towards the floor. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Hamstring stretch: Lie on your back and bend one leg, keeping the other straight. To increase the stretch, gently tug the bent leg towards you.
  • Back stretch: Sit on a chair, bend forward, and place your hands as far below your knees as possible. Repeat with the other leg straight.

Tips to prevent lower back pain when sneezing

  • Sleep on your side. Sleeping on your back can irritate your back and make the pain worse. Lying on your side is a much better option.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects. If the pain is caused by an abdominal infection, lifting heavy objects can make it worse.
  • Use a massaging pad. This can help relieve back pain and tension.
  • Consult your doctor if the pain persists, or worsens, or you start coughing up blood. 

When Should You See a Doctor?

If you have sneezing-related back pain, you should see a doctor if the pain persists for more than a few days. You should also see a doctor if you experience severe abdominal pain after sneezing, if you experience a fever after sneezing, or if the abdominal pain is accompanied by vomiting.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why do some people experience more pain during a sneeze than others?

There could be several reasons behind this. First of all, some people may have a weaker or more brittle spine than others.

If your spine is not strong enough to withstand the pressure caused by the sudden increase in pressure, your vertebrae may snap forward. People with osteoporosis or scoliosis may experience more pain as a result of sneezing due to the reduced strength of their spines.

Why do some people experience pain in the abdomen after a sneeze?

When you sneeze, your abdominal muscles contract. You may also experience a forceful exhalation. This can cause your internal organs to be pressed against your abdominal wall.

People with weak abdominal muscles, weak abdominal walls, and a condition called abdominal wall hernia can experience abdominal pain after sneezing. This happens because the abdominal organs get pressed against the abdominal wall.

How do I know if my pain is caused by sneezing?

If you sneeze frequently and experience pain in your abdomen or back after sneezing, this may be due to the pressure caused by sneezing. You can confirm this by reducing the amount of pressure in your abdomen and back.

To do this, try to sneeze in a controlled fashion by keeping your abdominal muscles relaxed and using your diaphragm to push the air out of your body. If you have excessive abdominal pressure and back pain as a result of sneezing, you should also pay attention to the position of your pelvis while sitting down.

If your pelvis is tilted forward, it could mean that your abdominal muscles are working too hard. This could be a sign of scoliosis, which can cause abdominal pain.


Sneezing can cause back pain. When you sneeze, the sudden increase in pressure inside your head forces the vertebrae of your spine to snap forward. This movement can make the bones in your spine rub against each other, which can cause back pain when you sneeze.

To avoid back pain when sneezing, you should sit or lie down with your back straight. Avoid sitting with your back twisted, as it can make your pain worse. Strenuous activities such as lifting heavy objects, running, bending, or twisting can make your back pain worse.

You can use heat or cold packs, take painkillers, and wear a brace to relieve the pain. You can also eat healthy foods, get enough rest, and wear appropriate clothing to prevent back pain when sneezing.

Keeping your back healthy is important. It’s the third largest organ in the human body and a source of many problems. In fact, it’s often termed the "hidden pain" because it is almost always masked by other symptoms. Back pain can be a beast. It won’t always respond to your best efforts and intentions.

However, the lower back pain that comes with breathing deeply can be especially painful for some people. This article will help you understand why deep breathing causes back pain and what you can do about it to prevent further pain.

We will look at why back pain is often exacerbated by deep breathing as well as how you can safely continue practicing your diaphragmatic breathing techniques in the presence of back pain.

What is "deep breathing"?

Deep breathing is a form of controlled breathing that relies on the diaphragm (a large muscle located in your abdomen) to expand and contract to draw air into and out of the lungs. It is different from "shallow breathing" because it uses more of the respiratory system to breathe in and out more deeply.

Deep breathing exercises have a number of uses, including reducing stress, improving your mood, increasing energy, improving focus, and regulating heart rate. One of the most common uses of deep breathing exercises is to help people better manage pain.

Why does deep breathing exacerbate back pain?

The deep breathing exercises commonly recommended to help manage back pain are diaphragmatic breathing and abdominal breathing exercises. Research shows that these types of breathing actually increase the pressure inside the abdominal cavity and lower the pressure in the back. This causes an increase in spinal pain.

The reason for this is the fact that the abdominal muscles contract during these types of breathing, which creates more pressure inside the abdomen. The pressure inside the abdominal cavity has to be released somewhere, so it pushes against the organs in the abdominal cavity, thus pushing against the back.

This can worsen pain from degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, sciatica, and other back conditions.

How to practice diaphragmatic breathing while suffering from back pain?

The best way to do this is to turn your attention to the relaxation of your lower back. This can be done by focusing on the sensations in your lower back during your deep breaths and slowly noticing the pain start to subside.

You can also use visualization to help your lower back relax—imagine your lower back slowly melting into the floor or chair, allowing the muscles to relax and the pain to subside. The key here is to focus on relaxing the lower back muscles in order to lower the pressure inside the abdominal cavity.

Another option is to modify your breathing technique by changing the speed and depth of your breaths. The idea is to find a balance between shallower, slower breaths and deeper, faster breaths that won’t exacerbate your back pain.

Is there a way to continue deep breathing when back pain is present?

Unfortunately, if you are suffering from back pain and deep breathing exacerbates it, then it is best to temporarily discontinue your deep breathing practices. You don't want to aggravate your back pain by contracting your abdominal muscles against your spine.

However, this does not mean that you should stop practicing all forms of breathing exercises. There are many types of breathing exercises other than deep breathing that you can continue to practice. These include:

Breathing from the diaphragm: 

This is an excellent type of breathing to practice when you have back pain, as it does not have the same exacerbating effect.

Instead of trying to make your abdominal muscles contract, be sure to focus on relaxing the muscles in your abdomen during abdominal breathing exercises.

Tibetan Buddhist breath: 

Tibetan Buddhist breathing exercises are diaphragmatic breathing exercises done with the assistance of visualization.

Visualization exercises: 

Visualization is the technique of using mental imagery that can be used in conjunction with breathing exercises.

Other useful tips for managing back pain while practicing breathing exercises:

Using ice: 

Applying ice to your back is a great way to help reduce back pain. Try to apply ice at least once per day (more if your back pain warrants it). Make sure to follow the guidelines provided by your doctor on how long to apply the ice.

Using heat:

Applying heat to your back once per day is another great way to help reduce back pain. Be sure to use a heating pad that has a low temperature setting. 

Using a support for your back

If you have a back injury, it is important to use a support when sitting in order to protect your back. Using supports such as a lumbar support or orthopedic back support can be very helpful in relieving back pain while sitting.

Getting plenty of sleep: 

Getting enough sleep is important for everyone, but especially if you are experiencing back pain. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate existing back pain as well as increase the risk of experiencing new back pain.

3 Simple Tips to Safely Continue Your Deep Breathing Practices During Back Pain

If you have been told you have back pain and that deep breathing makes it worse, then use these tips to keep breathing safely:

Focus on relaxing the muscles in your lower back

Relaxing the muscles in your lower back will help decrease the pressure inside the abdominal cavity, thus reducing the pressure on the back.

Use a slower and shallower way to breathe

Using a slower and shallower way to breathe will help lower the pressure inside the abdominal cavity.

Use different breathing exercises

Switching to different types of breathing exercises, such as breathing from the diaphragm or abdominal breathing, will help reduce the amount of pressure inside the abdominal cavity, thus helping to reduce the pressure against the back.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can’t I just do shallow breathing instead to alleviate back pain?

Shallow breathing alone is not enough to manage back pain, as it does not provide enough oxygen to all of the organs in the body. Deep breathing, on the other hand, provides plenty of oxygen for all of the organs, including the muscles. In fact, many people with back pain use a breathing technique called "diaphragmatic breathing" to reduce the pain.

Why is it important to know when to switch from deep breathing to shallow breathing?

It is important to know when to switch from deep breathing to shallow breathing because each type of breathing has different benefits. For example, diaphragmatic breathing provides more oxygen to the body, which is important for energy. Abdominal breathing, on the other hand, helps to relax the mind and body.

Why do some people with back pain find it helpful to do yoga poses?

Some people with back pain find it helpful to do yoga poses because yoga poses are similar to breathing exercises in that they help to relax the muscles. In fact, there is even one type of breathing exercise called "diaphragmatic breathing" that can be used to help relax the muscles.