Why Do My Arms Hurt When I Sneeze?

Dec 2, 2021

Why Do My Arms Hurt When I SneezeSneezing is a bodily reflex in which the nose tries to expel objects or other foreign bodies, usually as an irritation response mechanism. This can help prevent and fight infections in the respiratory system or brain with little impact to the body. A sneeze, known as sternutation medically, usually takes a fraction of a second and you can return to your activity once done. However, in some cases, a sneeze can cause other symptoms like arm pain which can be unbearable and lead to a loss of function in the arms over time. If you experience this pain, a Marietta chiropractor can help uncover the cause.

Dangers of Arm Pain from Sneezing

One of the biggest fears around sneezing and arm pain is that it can potentially cause loss of control of a vehicle if it happens while driving. The pain caused by these sneezes can lead to a temporary block of sensory and control ability, lasting a few seconds. This could be long enough to lose control of a vehicle, though it rarely happens unless the pain lasts for a sustained period.

Is Arm Pain When Sneezing Normal?

The arm pain intensity, location, and frequency may vary between people. Sometimes it will spread from the shoulders to the lower arms, while others may experience numbness and pain in the elbow. The pain may last as long as the sneeze itself or for minutes afterward, sometimes spreading to the hands in the process.

It is less common but still possible for pain to appear in the chest as well. This is typically associated with cardiovascular disease, especially if it radiates from the shoulder to the neck’s base and to the fingers, which is not associated with sneezing. However, the pain from sneezing could exacerbate other pain responses in the body such as this.

The cause of this pain can range from innocuous to serious. Possible causes include:

  • Attempting to stop or “hold in” a sneeze.
  • Back and neck problems that existed outside of the sneeze or a cough can be a sign of weakness in the bones, which are shifting during a sneeze. This can irritate the nerves in bulging discs or other problems, leading to pain.
  • Upper body tensions increases during a sneeze, contracting the muscles and potentially straining them.
  • Herniated discs leave nerves compressed and the motion of a sneeze can further this irritation.
  • A dislocated vertebrae can also cause nerve compression that causes pain.

The act of sneezing itself causes a temporary pressure on the spine, which can cause problems with the neck and spine if the nerves are impacted. This can be especially true if there is already an injury or a recent trauma like a car accident has occurred.

Pain when sneezing is often normal, but it could simply be a sign of pain from another source, such as an undiagnosed injury that should be treated by a Marietta chiropractor.

Managing Pain from Sneezing

In most cases, the most effective way to stop arm pain that results from sneezing is to identify and treat the underlying condition. This may mean focusing on the bones and nerves in the spine to ensure they are aligned and functioning properly, preventing sneezes from exacerbating existing problems. However, the first thing a doctor will do is rule out serious conditions or problems that could be contributing to your symptoms.

Diagnostic scans like x-rays or MRIs can be useful to identify any problem areas like pinched nerves or herniated discs. The information gained from these scans can guide your treatment plan in the right direction. Usually, a combination of chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy are enough to manage the problem.

When strain and inflammation are a concern, exercises may be prescribed as an ongoing treatment plan. The general goal is to prevent future pain and treat underlying causes through non-invasive techniques. The risk of something like a car accident resulting from these conditions is low, so your medical team will focus on symptom management rather than altering any lifestyle choices such as driving.

If you are experiencing arm pain when you sneeze, contact AICA Marietta today. Our team of experts will help identify the root cause of your condition and develop a treatment plan customized to your needs. Once you have addressed any spinal and nerve conditions, we can provide advice on ongoing maintenance that prevents the problem from recurring, leaving you with pain-free sneezes into the future. You can experience lifelong benefits of chiropractic care. Call us today to schedule your first consultation at AICA Marietta!