Back pain when coughing can range from a dull ache to a sharp, throbbing sensation. In some cases, back pain with coughing can be caused by respiratory issues like the flu or a cold. However, in other cases, back pain with coughing is associated with muscle concerns. This article looks at the reasons your back may hurt when you cough, such as muscle sprains, stiffness, spasms, or tightness. It also explains how to determine where your back pain is coming from and what type of treatment may help.
When muscles in the upper back contract forcefully (such as during a vigorous cough), they can put too much pressure on the ribs and the joint that connects them to your spine (called the costovertebral joints). If this funky connection gets irritated or overexerted, it can cause upper back pain that feels worse when you’re coughing. In addition, if this continues, it can lead to problems with the muscles in your neck and shoulders that stem from this joint.
Muscles in the lower back can also get stressed when you cough. Specifically, the sacroiliac joint, which connects your pelvic bone to your spine, can become irritated and painful. And, if you have a spinal disc herniation, which occurs when one of the soft tissue discs between your spine’s vertebrae slips out and presses against the nerves in your lower back, coughing can make your symptoms worse.
If you have pain that persists or becomes more severe, contact your doctor. Depending on the nature of your pain, your doctor will likely recommend medications or physical therapy. For example, a doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or ice to ease your discomfort.