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Why does my back hurt when I sneeze? Sneeze without hurting your Back

A simple sneeze, a harmless sneeze, can break the spine of the strongest man, of course, if he previously suffered from lumbar problems. Continue reading this article so that you understand everything related to this topic and what you can do.

What is a sneeze? Why does the sneeze occur?

We know sneezing well: it is a reflex mechanism (it is not voluntary, it is unconscious) that the respiratory tract has, and its purpose is to clean the respiratory tract of irritating substances and harmful particles.

The sneeze occurs when some substance irritates the nose, this causes the lungs to quickly fill with air, and then in an equally rapid contraction of the respiratory muscles expel the air through the same nose.

Sneeze: danger to the back

I have seen it several times in my practice as a physiotherapist: people who throughout their lives have suffered from lumbar problems such as herniated discs, sometimes diagnosed by magnetic resonance imaging and sometimes not, and who after a sudden sneeze (especially if they ” caught” with the spine bent, in flexion) ends up in the emergency room with intense sciatica, due to the exacerbation of his herniated disc.

How an intervertebral disc works and How a herniated disc occurs.

In this video we explain the anatomy and physiology of an intervertebral disc and how it is injured, producing a herniated disc.

And why can something so natural and everyday cause so much damage?

It is necessary to point out that it hurts if the disc was previously damaged. The intervertebral disc, as you saw in the previous video, is like a shock absorber: a pad filled with gelatin that if it is compressed abruptly and intensely and this pad is damaged, it can burst and let out the content, in this case the nucleus. pulpous, which like jelly pushes and irritates a nerve root, such as a root of the sciatic nerve or any other nerve.

At the time of sneezing, the simultaneous contraction of the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm causes intense pressure on the lower back, if the discs are damaged and especially if the sneeze is performed with the spine bent (for example, crouching or sitting) , a disc, normally the 4th or 5th lumbar disc that is previously worn or slightly herniated, can give way and increase its protrusion or herniation, generating or reactivating lumbago or sciatic pain.

How should we sneeze if our lower back is a weak point in our back?

If you have suffered or suffer from lumbar problems, you should sneeze keeping your back straight and seek support with your hands. I explain it to you in this video.

How to sneeze without hurting your back?

Why sneezing can be dangerous for the back? How to sneeze correctly so as not to hurt your back? We explain it to you in this video.

Then you already have our tips to sneeze correctly in case you have back problems:

  • If you are standing, try to sneeze with your lumbar spine straight or arched backwards, supporting your arms on your lumbar spine (just as pregnant women do).
  • If you’re sitting down, try to support a hand to the side and get up before sneezing. So the pressure falls on the support. This alternative also works for when you are standing.

We hope that all these tips will help you prevent relapses of lower back pain.

For more information about back pain, do not hesitate to follow us.

Bibliographic references

  1. https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/attitudes,-beliefs-and-health-literacy-impact-how-patients-manage-chronic-lower-back-pain
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328181409_Psychological_Treatment_Strategy_for_Chronic_Low_Back_Pain
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