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24 years
Why is it that after I sneeze, my shoulders and arm hurt a lot for about a minute?
Jan 14, 2014

Dr. Rania Mousa General Medicine
Sneezing and arm pain can be related, they can tell about an underlined condition you have.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.
The common causes of the occurrence of armor shoulder pain after sneezing are related to the spine. This is because sneezing creates a temporary pressure on the spine. 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,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 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.

Check with your doctor, he 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.