Upper Back Pain when Sneezing Could be a Sign of Herniated Disc

upper back pain when sneezing

Did you ever feel your upper back pain when sneezing? Don’t underestimate this symptom. Your spine might be in a weakening stage.

Upper back pain when sneezing indicates some problems in your back between shoulders area. As we know, our spine sustains our weight and helps to maintain a posture to our body. In the spine, there are intervertebral discs that lie between each of the vertebrae and acts as an absorber from the body movement shock.

The intervertebral disc is like a joint and consist of a thick outer layer (annulus ring) and in the center part is a soft gel material (nucleus pulposus).

How can my spine get weaken?

Because our spinal discs work endlessly to help the body to move or even just stay sitting working behind the desk, it would get worn out and having a degeneration. Walking, running, carrying and lifting the weight, more or less, is having a direct impact on our spine. Thus, as we age, could lead to a regeneration process.

Whether you realized or not, the problem might already exist for a long time but you didn’t notice them yet. In addition, if you didn’t practice regular back stretches and exercises, neither doing healthy nutritious foods consumption, the bone strength might decrease over time.

One of the spine degeneration processes that you feel an upper back pain when sneezing, or coughing in the upper back, is a Herniated Disc.

Upper back pain when sneezing 265article - Source Google
Invertebral disc – Source Google

Why could herniated disc happen?

The definition of a herniated disc is the sudden or slowly increasing displacement or the leakage of tissues of the nucleus pulposus (the gel core) of an invertebral disc, then the gel breaking the disc out into the spinal canal (nerve root).

This can result in pain, paralysis and/or emotional disturbances due to irritation of the nerve roots. It also leads to another problem which is a nerve root compression or we called it pinched nerve in the back.

Why herniated disc makes me feel a sharp upper back pain when sneezing?

First of all, when sneezing, heavy breathing, or coughing, our upper body slightly curled forward and bend the spine. This movement makes a direct pressure on the spinal discs. Therefore, the pressure will trigger the already damaged disc and hit the nerve root causing the leakage from the gel core of the invertebral disc.

Accompanying symptoms apart from upper back pain when sneezing

Pressure on nerve roots always triggers intense pain that can radiate into the arms if it located in the upper back. The legs are also affected if the problem located in the lower back.

These severe pains can also cause emotional disorders and their consequences, the symptoms include:

  • Radiating pain in the chest, arms, and legs.
  • Sharp pain in the back, usually in middle or upper back between shoulder blades
  • Ants-crawling sensation on the skin
  • Numbness and tingling feeling
  • Deafness
  • Muscle weakness

Depending on the stage and extent of the herniated disc, symptoms may also result in the reduction of muscle strength or even paralysis of individual muscle areas.

Diagnosis of a herniated disc

The diagnosis of a herniated disc involves various physical and neurological forms of examination, done by a specialist. In addition, diseases that have similar symptoms to the herniated disc must also be excluded as part of a differential diagnosis.

Neurological examination

In order to diagnose and determine a herniated disc, an in-depth neurological examination is necessary. In addition, conclusions can be drawn on the situation, the severity, as well as the involvement of the nerves.

A neurological examination checks the reflexes, the agility, as well as the sensitivity, but can also include a measurement of the nerve conduction speed. This is particularly important if the severity of the herniated disc is to be assessed and checked, which nerve roots are affected, or whether there is a circulatory disorder.

Diagnosed through scanning

Doing MRI scan of the affected pain is the most important and most valuable diagnosis in a herniated disc. The MRI can be used to detect the size and location of the herniated disc, and sometimes to determine the duration of the damage.

The CT scan today plays only a minor role in the diagnosis of a herniated disc because it is inferior in the detail of the MRI. In some cases, small herniated discs cannot be detected. Furthermore, there is a radiation load in a CT. An MRI, on the other hand, is radiation-free and works through magnetism.

What treatment should I do for a herniated disc?

As with many diseases, a conservative and surgical treatment is open for the treatment of the herniated disc.

The therapy itself is consist of what should be used and what can be done, must always be decided by a physiotherapist. Together with your doctor, you should work out the best way to treat your herniated disc. Most herniated disc incidents can be brought about by conservative measures to complete healing.

Conservative treatment of herniated disc

In addition to acute, medium incidents that might be lead to major impairments and may imply motoric and sensory failures, the herniated disc is generally initially treated conservatively.

To maintain the spinal column into normal position, and relieve the back pain, by doing bed rest is a first step to loosening the spinal stress. This can last for a period of four to six weeks.

However, bed rest may cause two-sided effects if it didn’t accompany by body activity, and limited to omit muscular problems for deconditioning purposes.


By strengthening the back muscles within the framework of physiotherapy measures, an improved muscular guidance of the spine is achieved, which ultimately also causes a lower load on the disc.

The physiotherapy measures in the context of conservative treatment of the herniated disc represent a very important area.

Kinesio tape can also be used in the event of a herniated disc. The tapes help relieve tense muscles in the event of a herniated disc.

Medications in a herniated disc

Medicational therapy (pharmacotherapy) plays an important role in the context of a relieve pain therapy, not only in spinal diseases such as the herniated disc. In case of the upper back pain when sneezing because herniated disc, it especially uses the non-steroidal anti-inflammation (NSAID), as for example Ibuprofen and Diclofenac.