We at Hyfe, Inc., are a company devoted to working on tools to better understand the importance of cough. It is Hyfe’s intention in the future to seek regulatory approval for medical products that analyze cough in order that they may be used to diagnose, monitor, and facilitate better treatment of respiratory illnesses.
Back pain is a common symptom that a lot of people experience. However, if you have an underlying lung disease, you may additionally experience worsened back pain when coughing. A painful lower back hurts during a coughing fit may signal a problem with the spine and related bones, muscles, or joints. Read on to learn more about back pain when coughing, what may cause your back to hurt when you cough, treatment options, and when it may be time to consult your doctor.
When you cough, various muscles tighten and relax, putting strain on the bones they are attached to. Normally, this is painless. However, numerous conditions may cause back pain when you cough. Most commonly, it is due to problems with the parts that make up your spine – the bones, muscles, and joints. Here are some of the reasons why your back hurts when you cough1:
Clearly, back pain when coughing can occur due to numerous causes. The common denominator is usually strain or injury of the back, which leads to inflammation and pain. Coughing adds to this negative mix due to the movement involved in tensing and relaxing muscles around the lungs, causing further discomfort. Having an idea of these causes can lead to better insight into your condition and also provide important clues for your healthcare provider later on. It is important then to take note of your symptoms, when and where they arise, and any other symptoms associated with your back pain when coughing.
These are simple but effective ways to help manage back pain when coughing. Taking these small measures can alleviate discomfort and promote better health and improved quality of life in the long run.
There are numerous medications4 that can help alleviate back pain when coughing. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are good options to help relieve back pain. If these do not sufficiently relieve the pain, it may be prudent to consult your doctor for a prescription.
Stronger medications include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Muscle relaxants may also lessen the tension of the lower back muscles and relieve pain. For chronic pain, antidepressants like amitriptyline and duloxetine are now being considered viable options5. Steroid injections may also be administered to the affected parts to relieve pain quickly but may not be for everyone. They are also associated with several side effects like bleeding and infection. Lastly, topical creams and patches may be applied to the affected areas to numb the pain and provide relief.
Consult your doctor for the most appropriate medication for your back pain when coughing.
Physical therapy6 is a good long-term treatment option and can provide effective relief. Physical therapy is usually given through sessions with a physiotherapist, who generally provides an appropriate exercise regimen that will not only strengthen the muscles supporting the back but also give recommendations on how to maintain proper posture.
Acupuncture is also another treatment option, which involves fine needles that are used to stimulate the body. This leads to improved circulation and may reduce muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain, although the evidence is mixed789.
Lastly, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a treatment modality that physical therapists use to reduce muscle tension and pain via electrodes that send mild electric currents to your body. There is currently some evidence that TENS can relieve acute pain10, such as from injury, but there is currently not much evidence for its effect on chronic pain11.
In cases where back pain when coughing is not relieved by more conservative measures, surgery may become a treatment option. There are several surgeries available to address back pain, depending on the cause of the pain and the side effects of the surgery. These include12:
While there are numerous treatment options, the decision will ultimately depend on your age, health condition, and severity of symptoms. You and your doctor will have a comprehensive discussion on the pros and cons of each treatment until you decide which option would suit you best. It is important to keep your long-term health in mind and choose what is best for your quality of life.
Back pain when coughing that lasts longer than two weeks could signal a more serious underlying condition. Here are signs and symptoms that should prompt you to consult your doctor immediately13:
These are signs that there could be multiple factors at play that are compounding your condition. The sooner you consult your doctor when these symptoms arise, the earlier they can be managed.
Back pain when coughing can be due to multiple conditions, usually associated with problems in alignment or strain of the parts of the back, whether it’s the muscles, bones, or joints. Coughing compounds back pain by causing movement and friction of the already inflamed and painful parts. Home remedies can provide simple solutions to troubleshoot back pain in the day-to-day. Long-term solutions include physical therapy, acupuncture, and TENS. Lastly, if the back pain when coughing does not respond to these, surgery may become an option. Work closely with your doctor to determine the cause of your back pain when coughing and the best treatment option for you.
Mikaela is a dentistry clinician at the University of the Philippines.