Posted by: Cinnamon | 2020/02/20


Coughing causing arm and leg pain

I have GERD and tend to have food "go down the wrong pipe." I also have asthma and an elevated right hemidiaphragm (also obstructive sleep apnea). When I accidentally aspirate something and start the coughing, gagging, and vomiting that ensues, I have a few things happen that are disturbing. The worst is that when I cough that hard, I get severe pain down my right arm, going into my hand. This last time, the pain went down both arms and down my right leg. The leg pain was not as bad, but it was the same pain. My bladder also lets loose. Last night this happened and I basically just lost control of my bladder for a bit. I was sitting on the toilet trying to breathe. Then I had an asthma attack and had to use my rescue inhaler. Rough night. My question is: What is that arm, now leg pain? Should I see a doctor? I do have neck pain and paresthesias in my arms/hands at other times. But this pain is different.

Expert's Reply


Cough Expert
- 2020/03/02

The bladder dysfunction is a known adverse event related to severe and chronic cough.  The only way I could explain the pain down the arm and also the leg is that the severe coughing is causing tension on your muscles which in turn is exerting pressure on your spinal column causing compression or 'pinching' of the nerves.  You could try some anti inflammatories for short term relief but the long term solution would be to address the underlying cause of the cough (including the underlying cause of the GORD) and core strengthening and mobility exercises.

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