Why do my Arms Hurt When I Sneeze: Decoding The Fact


Why do my Arms Hurt When I Sneeze
Why do my Arms Hurt When I Sneeze

Sneezing is one of the reflex actions of the human body, which is very common and cannot be avoided. It occurs frequently in our daily lives and significantly clears the nasal passages of irritants or foreign particles. This involuntary response of the body helps maintain our respiratory system’s health. We take this mechanism lightly, but must we be cautious of certain factors? In the same context in this blog, we will try to shed light on a major concern: “Why do my Arms Hurt When I Sneeze?” will explain the relationship and when you should see a doctor. So, stay tuned!

While writing this blog, we encountered many cases where sneezing is a simple annoyance and not a sign of anything serious. It can be due to allergies, colds, or a simple act. For some people, it can be a painful experience as they constantly feel pain in their arms or legs every time they sneeze. It is recommended to see a neurologist as it can be due to spinal injury. If not, it can also be a sign of heart disease.

Read Now: What Do Doctors Think of Chiropractors?

The Pain We Can Experience While Sneezing

The Pain We Can Experience While Sneezing
The Pain We Can Experience While Sneezing

Sneezing is a pain-free process that doesn’t concern an underlying health condition. It can be mucus secretion from virus infection, allergens like dust, pollen, or irritants like cigarette smoke. But, for some people, it can cause continuous pain in certain body parts while sneezing. This is why we will focus this blog on an important concern that we picked from the internet, people want to know: “Why do my arms hurt when I sneeze?”

Before going forward, let us understand the different types of pain experienced while sneezing.

1. Muscle Strain

  • The most prevalent reason for experiencing pain while sneezing can be due to contraction and sudden movement of muscles in the chest, back, or abdomen.
  • Another reason can be the recent muscle strain due to physical activity or an underlying injury. Sneezing can exacerbate the pain in those areas.

2. Underlying Medical Condition

Certain medical conditions can intensify the pain due to sudden jerks and increased pressure. Conditions like,

  • Costochondritis which can happen due to inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage.
  • Spinal injuries
  • Herniated disc
  • Chest or back conditions

3. Nerve Irritation

It is possible that sneezing briefly compresses the nerves in the spine and surrounding areas, which can cause serious shooting pain. This can be temporary.

4. Referred Pain

  • It is a phenomenon where pain is perceived in an area of the body that can be different from the actual source or origin of pain.
  • For example, pain can be felt in the chest area and limbs during activities that can increase intra-abdominal pressure, like a sneeze.

Cause of Arm Pain After Sneezing

Cause of Arm Pain After Sneezing
Cause of Arm Pain After Sneezing

It has been seen that the painful sneeze is somehow related to our spine health. It can be stressed when we exert sudden pressure during a sneeze. The vertebrate may feel a sudden jerk and can also be weakened due to some injuries, exacerbating the pain. This can be one of the cases. If you are still wondering, “Why do my Arms Hurt When I Sneeze.” We bring up some factors you should be cautious about and get checked by a healthcare expert if you are in pain while sneezing.

1. Pinched Nerve

  • It is uncommon that sneezing can cause a pinched nerve. The upper part of the body experiences a strong force while sneezing. This forceful action can exacerbate pre-nerve-related issues or compress nerves in the spinal or surrounding areas like the chest and back, leading to pain.
  • While we sneeze, pressure around the spinal column increases sharply, which can lead to pain. This condition can be worsened when you have an underlying spine issue or sensitive nerve.

2. Muscle Strain

Strain can be caused by sudden forceful contraction of muscles involved in sneezing reflux. Below are some possible muscle strains during sneezing,

A. Chest Muscle

The force exerted during sneezing can cause strain in the intercostal muscles between the ribs, resulting in discomfort and pain.

B. Abdominal Muscle

There is a forceful expulsion of air while we sneeze, which exerts pressure around the abdominal area. This action is painful and can leave sore muscles around that region.

C. Back Muscle

The back muscles are also involved while we sneeze. The amount of pressure it exerts on the back can strain the muscles.

3. Nerve Irritation

  • The involuntary action of sneezing can exert pressure on the spine and surrounding nerves. We may feel a temporary pain sensation radiating to many body parts like arms, legs, or back.
  • When we sneeze, it is possible to exert pressure on the spine, which results in the distribution of the pressure along with the pathway nerves in other areas of the body. This action may result in referred pain when pain is in a different area than the source.

4. Heart-Related Issues

  • This is highly uncommon, but there is a possibility that blood pressure in the body might increase due to forceful expulsion of air. For individuals who already have a heart condition like hypertension, the abrupt rise in blood pressure can be problematic.
  • In some susceptible individuals, it might be possible that sneezing can trigger irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)

5. Herniated Discs

  • Sneezing itself doesn’t cause a herniated disc, but the pressure exerted on the spinal nerves while doing it can potentially exacerbate symptoms and cause discomfort.
  • When we sneeze, it can occasionally trigger pain and numbness that radiates down the arms and legs, which is known as sciatica. This can also happen if the herniated disc presses a nerve root in the spinal column.

When to See a Doctor

  1. Sneezing is one of the involuntary body responses we generally ignore because we are designed that way. Besides that, there is a possibility we feel extreme pain in any part of the body while sneezing. See a doctor if this persists and if you find anything unusual.
  2. There are many underlying health problems, like neurological issues and heart diseases, where it becomes one of the symptoms. We should go to an expert and get things sorted out. While addressing some major issues in this blog, we encountered one such question that we feel obligatory to answer.

Must Read: What do Orthopedic Surgeons Think of Chiropractors?

Why Do My Legs Hurt When I Sneeze?

It is typically uncommon to experience pain in the legs while sneezing. However, there can be other cases, which are discussed below,

1. Nerve Irritation

The compression of nerves in the spine and surrounding areas while sneezing can shoot up pain that radiates down the legs.

2. Muscle Strain

Very unlikely, but sometimes the force exerted on the body can strain muscles around the back, hip, or legs, leading to temporary discomfort and pain.

3. Underlying Health Condition

There are certain body conditions because of which we can feel pain in our legs while sneezing, such as a herniated disc, sciatica (compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve), and other nerve issues.


Sneezing is a perfectly normal reflex action of the body that anyone can experience daily. This process is painless in most cases, and we need not worry about repercussions. This blog addresses a growing concern: “Why do my arms hurt when I sneeze?” We have listed down various symptoms when your body tells you of something major beneath. I suggest not to worry much, and you should see a doctor if the pain persists and if you experience other related symptoms.

Mansi Balodi
Mansi Balodihttps://scriptedsoul.com
My life is always on a run but I try to find time for myself to let my wisdom and knowledge help and guide you. In my blogs, I will try to demystify the complexities of topics and will connect with you with ease of understanding. So let's explore the treasure of the world with words.

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