Sneezing seems like such a benign pain, but anyone who has ever had painful sneezing will tell you that it’s anything but. Sneezing is a natural reaction of your body against bacteria and viruses. Anything that enters your nose might trigger the body’s reflex to sneeze, and that forces whatever entered to leave the nose – often through a violent sneeze.

A sneeze is a process that includes many actions. An irritation to the nose signals your throat, eyes and mouth to shut. Then the chest muscles contract and throat muscles relax. Air is forced out of your mouth and nose to clear the passage. So if it’s a natural event, why does my body hurt when I sneeze?

Why Does It Hurt When I Sneeze?

Sneezing is a natural act, but it is also a somewhat violent one. That means that it can aggravate other areas of the body and cause pain. Serious sneezing might even lead to a hernia, or a rupture in your abdominal wall or upper thigh. It might also cause problems with your thigh muscles. But even without those issues, sometimes it is still very painful! It leads many to ask, why does it hurt when I sneeze?

Sneezing and Arm Pain

Some people feel arm pain right after they sneeze. Though it might seem like they aren’t connected, they certainly can be. It might be a dull pain, or it might be sharp and stabbing. Here’s why it happens:

  • A pinched or compressed nerve might be irritated by a sneeze, leading to arm pain. Besides, pain may also occur in your arm if there is a sudden movement of your neck.

  • A herniated disc happens when the soft interior held by the tough exterior of our spinal disc bulges out, which might lead to shooting pain in your arms when you sneeze.

  • You might also have back and neck problems, or even a dislocated vertebra. These can lead to pinched nerves and herniated discs, all of which can lead to sneezing pain.

  • If you try to suppress the sneeze, you might feel the pain in your upper chest or upper arms.

  • As you sneeze more often, you might suffer from tension in the chest area, which can lead to dull aching pain in the arms.


Sneezing and Sternum Pain

Why does it hurt when I sneeze – especially right in the center of my chest? Your sternum is the bone in the center of your chest. As you sneeze, your enter chest tenses up and then moves rapidly. This means that you might suffer from pain in that area. Some of the most common reasons for it include:

  • A small fracture in the sternum that only bothers you when you sneeze. This could happen if you experienced some injury or hit to the area, leading to a bruise, a chipped of bone or a hairline fracture.

  • An injury or weakness in the muscles around the sternum which might be caused by some intense training.

  • An inflammation where the ribs meet the sternum could also be the cause. One of the telltale signs of an inflammation is a popping or cracking noise in your chest as you sneeze.


Sneezing and Groin Injury

A sneeze can involve your entire body. If you have any weak spots around your muscles, especially those in your groin, you might actually rupture that area with the force of your sneeze. This creates a hernia, which allows part of your abdominal wall or abdominal organs to penetrate into the opening that was made by the force of the sneeze.

This sounds like a very serious problem, and it might be – it depends on where the hernia is and how bad it is. If you suspect you have a hernia, speak to your doctor about it and have some tests run to figure out what to do next.

Those who have a muscle injury called Gilmore’s groin are much more likely to develop hernias. In this case, the hernia will often appear in the inner muscle, near the groin. Hernias are much more common in men, but women do still get them.

How Is the Condition Managed?

Why does it hurt when I sneeze, and what kind of treatments might help alleviate the pain? That’s a big question that many people ask their doctors, and the answer is: It depends. The treatment of the pain depends on exactly how it was caused.

  • Expect your doctor to ask probing questions, such as when the pain began, how often it happens, where it starts, how it radiates out from that point, and how long it lasts.

  • Expect to have an x-ray to figure out if there are any fractures or bone problems that can cause the severe pain. If nothing is found, you might be asked to undergo an MRI or other imaging procedures in order to figure out where the underlying problem might be.


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