ack pain when coughing is discomfort or pain felt in the back when one cough. Various conditions, such as muscle strains, fractures, or a herniated disc in the spine, can cause this. Back pain when coughing may also be a symptom of a lung or respiratory condition, such as pneumonia or pleurisy.
Low back pain
Low back pain is discomfort or pain felt in the lower part of the back. It is a common condition that affects people of all ages and can be caused by various factors such as muscle or ligament strains, herniated discs, osteoarthritis, or spinal stenosis. Other causes can include poor posture, obesity, or lack of physical activity.
Symptoms of low back pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing pain accompanied by stiffness, muscle spasms, or weakness. In most cases, low back pain can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy, and exercise.
In some cases, more severe or chronic low back pain may require further treatment, such as prescription medications, injections, or surgery.
Upper back pain
When coughing, upper back pain can be caused by various conditions that affect the upper back, such as muscle or ligament strains, a herniated disc in the thoracic spine, or an inflammation of the costovertebral joint. It can also be caused by lung or respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or pleurisy.
Coughing can put extra pressure on the upper back muscles and ligaments, leading to pain. It’s important to note that upper back pain can also be a symptom of lung cancer, which is why if the pain is severe or accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain, coughing up blood, or unexplained weight loss, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment options will vary depending on the underlying cause of the pain but may include rest, physical therapy, pain medication, or in some cases, surgery.
Causes of back pain when coughing
Here are some most common causes of back pain when coughing
Muscle or ligament strains or sprains in the back
muscle or ligament strains or sprains in the back can cause back pain when coughing. Coughing can put extra pressure on the muscles and ligaments in the back, leading to anxiety or sprain if the muscles are already weakened or fatigued. This can cause pain, discomfort, and inflammation in the affected area. The pain can be felt in any part of the back, depending on the location of the strained muscle or ligament.
Symptoms of muscle or ligament strains can include pain, stiffness, muscle spasms, and weakness.
Treatment may include rest, physical therapy, and over-the-counter pain medications. A doctor may recommend a brace, injection, or surgery in severe cases.
Related: Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments
Herniated or bulging discs
Herniated or bulging discs in the spine can cause back pain when coughing. A herniated disc occurs when the inner, softer portion of the disc bulges out through a tear or crack in the outer, more challenging portion of the disc. This can put pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord, causing pain, numbness, and weakness in the affected area.
On the other hand, a bulging disc is a less severe condition where the disc material is pushed outwards but doesn’t rupture the outer layer.
Coughing can put extra pressure on the spine, which can aggravate a herniated or bulging disc and cause pain. The pain can be felt in any part of the back, depending on the location of the herniated or bulging disc. Other signs of back pain include tingling, numbness, or weakness in the legs.
Treatment options for herniated or bulging discs can include rest, physical therapy, medications, injections, or in severe cases, surgery.
Costovertebral joint inflammation
Costovertebral joint inflammation, also known as costochondritis, can cause back pain when coughing. The costovertebral joints are the joints between the ribs and the spine in the upper back. Inflammation of these joints can cause pain and tenderness in the upper back, especially when coughing or taking deep breaths. This can happen due to an injury, overuse, or infection.
Symptoms of costovertebral joint inflammation can include pain and tenderness in the upper back, especially when coughing or taking deep breaths, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. Treatment options include rest, physical therapy, over-the-counter pain medications, and in some cases, corticosteroid injections.
Lung or respiratory conditions
Lung or respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, pleurisy, or bronchitis can cause back pain when coughing. These conditions can cause inflammation and irritation in the lungs, and the pleural lining, which can result in pain felt in the back.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can cause inflammation in the lungs, which can cause pain in the chest and back when coughing. Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleural lining of the lungs, which can cause sharp pain in the chest and back when coughing or breathing deeply. Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which can cause chest tightness and pain in the back when coughing.
Other symptoms of lung or respiratory conditions that can cause back pain when coughing can include difficulty breathing, chest pain, cough, and fever. Treatment options will vary depending on the underlying disease and may include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and in some cases, corticosteroids.
Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, can cause back pain when coughing or breathing deeply. This is a condition in which the spine is bent to the side, usually in the form of an “S” or “C” shape. This can put extra pressure on the muscles and ligaments in the back, leading to pain and discomfort.
The pain cause by scoliosis when coughing or breathing deeply can be felt in any part of the back, depending on the location and severity of the curvature. Other symptoms of scoliosis can include uneven shoulders, a protruding shoulder blade, uneven hips, or a visible curvature of the spine.
Treatment options for scoliosis will vary depending on the severity of the condition and may include physical therapy, bracing, or in severe cases, surgery.
Pneumothorax (or collapsed lung) can cause chest and upper back pain when coughing. And, occurs when air leaks into the space between the lung and the chest wall, causing the lung to collapse. This can cause pain in the chest and upper back and difficulty breathing.
Symptoms of Pneumothorax can include sudden and severe chest pain, shortness of breath, and rapid heartbeat. The pain may be worse when breathing deeply or coughing.
Treatment options for pneumothorax will vary depending on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, the lung may re-inflate independently, and no treatment is must. Severe cases may require a chest tube to be insert to help re-inflate the lung or, in some cases, surgery.
Osteoarthritis can cause back pain when coughing. As the joints in the spine deteriorate with osteoarthritis, they can become inflamed and cause pain, especially during activities that pressure the spine, such as coughing. This pain can be felt in the lower back and can be accompanied by stiffness and a loss of mobility.
Prevention of back pain when coughing
Preventing back pain when coughing may include the following:
Maintaining a good posture: Good posture helps to keep the spine in proper alignment and reduces the strain on the muscles and joints.
Strengthening the core muscles: Strong core muscles, including the abdominal and back muscles, provide support and stability to the spine and can help to prevent back pain.
Stretching and flexibility exercises: Stretching and flexibility exercises can help improve the range of motion in the back and reduce muscle tension.
Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight can put extra stress on the spine and contribute to back pain.
Practicing good body mechanics: Proper body mechanics, such as lifting heavy objects with the legs and not the back, can help to reduce the risk of back injury.
Avoiding smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of back pain and other health issues.
Consult a doctor: if you have an underlying respiratory illness or if the pain persists, as the back pain may be a symptom of an underlying condition
Treatment of back pain when coughing
Treatment for back pain caused by coughing may include:
Rest and ice or heat therapy
Rest and ice or heat therapy can be effective treatments for back pain caused by coughing as they can help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Resting can help to alleviate pressure on the affected area and give the muscles time to heal.
Applying ice to the affected area can help to numb pain and reduce inflammation. It’s usually recommended to apply ice for 10-15 minutes at a time, several times a day.
Using heat therapy, such as a heating pad or warm bath, can also help to relax the muscles and reduce pain.
It’s important to note that it’s recommended to avoid heat therapy if swelling or inflammation and use ice instead. And it’s also important to alternate between heat and ice therapy, using ice first, then heat.
Over-the-counter pain medication
Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can effectively treat back pain caused by coughing. These medications can help to reduce pain and inflammation in the affected area.
Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and it works by blocking the production of certain chemicals in the body that cause pain and inflammation.
Acetaminophen is a pain reliever that blocks the production of certain brain chemicals that transmit pain signals.
It’s essential to follow the recommended dosage on the packaging and not exceed the maximum daily dosage. It’s also important to be aware of possible side effects, such as stomach upset and bleeding, especially if you take the medication for an extended time.
Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for back pain cause by coughing. A physical therapist can help to:
- Identify the underlying cause of the pain and create a personalized treatment plan
- Improve posture and alignment to reduce strain on the back muscles
- Strengthen the muscles in the back, abdominal, and core to improve support and stability
- Improve flexibility and range of motion to reduce pain and improve function
- Provide techniques for managing pain and preventing future episodes of back pain
- Teach exercises that can help to prevent back pain from recurring
Physical therapy sessions can be done one-on-one with a therapist or in a group. The therapist will guide you through exercises and techniques to alleviate pain and improve mobility and will also guide how to maintain a healthy back, such as good posture and exercises that can be done at home.
Stretching and exercise
Stretching and exercise can be effective treatments for back pain caused by coughing. They can help to:
- Improve flexibility and range of motion in the back muscles
- Strengthen the muscles in the back, abdominal, and core to improve support and stability
- Decrease stress in the muscles and improve circulation
- Enhance overall fitness and well-being
A physical therapist or personal trainer can help design a stretching and exercise program specific to your needs and goals. It’s essential to start with gentle stretching and low-impact exercises and gradually increase the intensity and complexity as you become more robust and more comfortable.
The specific exercises may include:
Gentle stretches, such as hamstring stretches, quad stretches, and calf stretches
- Core-strengthening exercises, such as planks and bridges
- Cardio exercises, such as running, walking, or swimming
- Yoga or Pilates exercises that focus on core strength and flexibility
Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation
Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation can effectively treat back pain caused by coughing. These forms of manual therapy involve using manual techniques, such as adjustments and manipulations, to improve the spine’s and other joints’ alignment and function.
A chiropractor or osteopath will use their hands to apply a controlled force to the spine, joints, or other body parts to reduce pain, improve mobility, and promote healing. They may use various techniques such as mobilization, spinal manipulation, soft tissue therapy, and joint adjustments.
Chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation can help to:
- Relieve pain and stiffness in the back and other joints Improve mobility and range of motion
- Promote healing and recovery
- Reduce muscle spasms
- Improve overall well-being and quality of life
It’s important to note that while these manual therapies can be effective, they are not always suitable for everyone. In some cases, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation may not be recommended if you have certain medical conditions, such as osteoporosis or a history of spinal fractures.
Surgery is generally consider a resort treatment option for back pain cause by coughing. It is usually only consider when more conservative treatment options have been ineffective or if a specific condition or injury is causing the pain.
The type of surgery that may be recommend will depend on the underlying cause of the pain. Some examples of surgeries that may be used to treat back pain include:
Laminectomy: This procedure involves removing a portion of the vertebral bone called the lamina to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
Discectomy: This procedure involves removing a portion of a herniated disc that is pressing on a nerve root.
Spinal fusion: This procedure involves fusing two or more vertebrae together to stabilize the spine and reduce pain.
Spinal decompression: This procedure involves removing a portion of the vertebral bone or disc to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
It’s important to note that surgery carries risks and potential complications, and recovery time may take several months. Additionally, surgery does not always guarantee a complete resolution of pain, and physical therapy and other non-surgical treatments may still be needed after surgery.