My Back Hurts When I Cough – What Should I Do?

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: October 22, 2018

Back Hurts Cough

The most common indication that something is going on in our spine is when physical activity causes symptoms to develop, but sometimes a much more innocuous action can signal a spine issue. A lot of patients have informed us that they first noticed back pain when they coughed or sneezed. Interestingly, both of these actions can be the cause of your spinal condition, or they could be completely unrelated other than the fact that spine pain intensifies after coughing or sneezing. Below, we explain why you may feel back pain after coughing.

Why Coughing Hurts Your Back

Coughing can cause back pain for a number of reasons. For example, when you cough, you usually hunch your shoulders and lean forward, and these postural changes can trigger pain from conditions like a herniated disc or spinal compression. Coughing can also trigger pain sensations in spinal issues like:

  • Muscle strains
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stretched or torn ligaments
  • Spinal fractures
  • Degenerative disc disease

There’s also the possibility that coughing could be the direct cause of your pain. Chronic coughing can lead to disc shifting, or a particularly intense cough can lead to muscle tears and strains.

Treatment and Prevention

We’ll get to treating the underlying spinal issue in a bit, but we want to touch on some tips for preventing postural changes when coughing from triggering back pain. When you feel a cough coming on, try to keep your back straight instead of hunching forward. Also, try to relax your shoulders instead of drawing them up near your neck. Some people have also found it helpful to put their hands on a table or counter when coughing, and this can help limit some of the motion to the spine.

The best way to treat back pain that is caused by or that intensifies when coughing is to have your spine examined by a spine specialist like Dr. Sinicropi. He’ll conduct a physical exam and examine your breathing patterns to see if he can pinpoint the issue. He may also order an X-ray or MRI if he needs assistance locating the exact location of pain.

From there, he can help develop a treatment plan for the spinal condition. Oftentimes conservative care can help address minor to moderate conditions that are exacerbated by coughing, but he can walk you through all your specific options. For more information, or to setup a consultation, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s clinic today.

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