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Arm Pain After Sneezing

Arm Pain After Sneezing

Sneeze - an expulsion of air from the lungs through the nose and mouth, is sometimes accompanied by pain in the arms. What are the reasons behind arm pain after sneezing? Is it normal, or should you be worried?
Manali Oak
Last Updated: Apr 5, 2018
Pain in arms while sneezing is common, and it is natural to link it with heart-related diseases. However, in most cases, this pain is related to problems of the back, not the heart!

Yes, sneezing and arm pain can be related. There are people who experience severe pain in their arms during, or after sneezing. Some complain of pain and numbness in the elbow, while others experience a shooting pain in their shoulders along with their lower arm. In some cases, the pain in arms while sneezing vanishes within seconds, while in certain cases, it lasts for a couple of minutes and shifts from the hands to the fingers. Some experience pain accompanied by a tingling sensation in one or both arms, while in some cases, pain can also occur in the chest.

In cases where pain in the chest and arm occurs after sneezing, one tends to link it with heart disease. There is a shooting pain that initiates at the base of the neck and radiates from the shoulder right up to the fingers. A racking pain of this sort might seem to be associated with an underlying cardiovascular disease. But, it's often not the case.


The common causes of the occurrence of arm pain after sneezing are related to the spine. This is because sneezing creates a temporary pressure on the spine. In certain cases, this pressure can weaken or damage the vertebrae to some extent, thereby irritating the surrounding nerves that are connected with the rest of the body. The pain travels through these nerves and affects several areas of the body including your shoulders, arms, fingers, chest, and legs. Listed below are some common causes of pain in the arm due to sneezing.

» Pinched Nerve: A pinched nerve is the nerve which compresses due to pressure applied to it by the surrounding tissues. According to experts, a compressed or pinched nerve leads to arm pain when sneezing. Also, a sudden movement of the neck while sneezing may lead to pain in the arm.

» Dislocated Vertebra: It is the dislocation of one of the small bones in the spine, and is likely result from a physical trauma. The dislocation is often the result of a fracture. This and other spinal problems may also be the reason behind arm pain after sneezing.

» Herniated Disc: Our spinal disc consists of a tough exterior which holds a soft "jelly-like" interior. When, due to certain factors, the soft interior bulges out from the hard exterior, it is known as a herniated disc. If sneezing results in a shooting pain in the arms, it could be a symptom of this condition.

» Neck and Back Problems: Weakness in bones of the neck and back is experienced during involuntary reflexes like sneezing. Symptoms of neck and back problems, including partially herniated disc, become more evident during sneezing or coughing. This is because a herniated disc reduces the ideal space surrounding the nerves. In addition to that, the extra pressure created during sneezing makes the bulging discs protrude even more, irritating the nerves and causing pain.

» Increased Tension in the Upper Body: The act of sneezing involves quite a bit of muscle activity. As the muscles try to contract in response to this tensing, they are strained. And this leads to pain in the shoulders and arms.

» Suppression: One might experience pain in the arms while sneezing, especially when he/she is trying to stop the sneeze.


The treatment depends on the factor causing it. Hence, inspection and right diagnosis of the reason is the first step towards treating it. Visit your doctor to know what's causing the pain.

Upon your visit, your doctor might ask you questions for accurate diagnosis. These may include questions like, where the pain starts, to which points on the arms it radiates, and how long it lasts. He may advise you to go for an X-ray of the spinal cord in order to detect a neck or back problem, if any. In case of severe pain, you may require to undergo an MRI scan.

» If a pinched nerve is the cause of arm pain while sneezing, pain management drugs or injections with the consultation of your doctor can help. You may be advised to go for physical therapy, acupuncture, or other chiropractic treatments.

» In case of inflammation of the spinal cord or back injuries, anti-inflammatory medications and ice or heat therapy can be of help. Light stretching exercises and muscle strengthening workouts help relieve strain in the muscles. Remember, exercises have to be supplemented with adequate rest.

Because this health issue may be associated with nerves in the body, the intervention of a trusted professional is a must. If lifestyle remedies do not seem to help, or if the pain is too intense to bear, make sure to visit a physician immediately.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.