Neck pain: what can it be? Causes and other symptoms

The neck pain can be caused by several factors. Generally, this type of pain is related to stress and high blood pressure (hypertension). In these cases, the patient has no other symptoms. But there are other possible causes, such as meningitis , headaches, aneurysms or tumors.

It is not always serious, as it can also be the result of poor posture or the way the person lies down to sleep.

The prolonged effort of the musculature of the region (caused by looking at one direction for a long time), the excess of physical exercises and even the use of very heavy necklaces can all contribute to this pain.

In addition, a number of other conditions may be involved. Like infections caused by viruses and bacteria or some diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and herniated disc .

In such cases, specific treatment for the disease or infection is critical to alleviating the problem.


Severe pain in the back of the neck: what can it be?

If the pain lasts for more than 1 week or if it spreads to other parts of the body, such as the back or the head, it is advisable to seek medical advice.

The patient should notice the intensity and periods of the day when he feels the most pain. This will help the doctor to make a more accurate diagnosis.

In general, if you are experiencing any discomfort in the region, you should urgently seek a doctor under the following conditions:

  • If the pain persists for more than 48 hours;
  • If neck pain is accompanied by fever, heart palpitation and other symptoms (vomiting, dizziness, for example)

This is because it can be related to other complications. Even when it is due to poor posture, this local muscle sensitivity or irritation can cause great discomfort and limitation.

High pressure

In some cases, hypertension (high blood pressure) can be caused by pain in the neck.

Although many people think that the pain is due to elevated pressure, it is exactly the opposite – it is responsible for arterial decompensation.

When the body experiences some pain or stress, the body tends to release hormones (such as adrenaline) to fight them, and these hormones can help to increase pressure.

Neck pain is transient, that is, it should not last more than 24 hours. Even so, if this situation is frequent, medical help should be sought.

Attitudes like resting and avoiding foods that contain a lot of salt or fat can help prevent pressure build-up when pain is present.


An aneurysm happens when there is a dilation of blood vessels in the brain. This dilation can cause a cardiovascular accident (stroke or stroke).

In the vast majority of situations, the stroke happens without any type of sign or symptom.

But in some cases, stroke is preceded by severe pain in the back of the neck that can spread to other parts, such as the back, chest and head.

People who have had a stroke are more likely to experience pain in the region, including the head, in addition to having some compromised body movements.


Torticollis or “twisted neck” are pains caused by the misuse of the neck muscles. Poor posture, excess weight or effort and sleeping in uncomfortable positions are the main causes.

Torticollis pain can appear during a movement (turning the neck to one side, for example) or physical exercise that uses those muscles (such as swimming).

Making hot / cold compresses in the injured area and taking pain relievers may be one of the medical recommendations.

Even so, only medical analysis can predict which medications are the best and whether there is a need for other recommendations (such as rest or interruption of physical activity).


Meningitis is a disease caused by inflammation of the brain membrane and spinal cord. In the vast majority of cases, this pathology is caused by bacteria or viruses.

During meningitis, the back of the neck may become painful or stiff, making it difficult for the neck to move naturally.

In addition, meningitis manifests itself with other symptoms such as headaches, fever , vomiting and loss of appetite.

This disease, if not treated correctly, can cause serious sequelae or even lead to death.

Meningitis can be prevented with vaccines and medications. If you are suspicious, seek medical attention.


Despite being a less common cause, some tumors can cause neck pain, especially if they are close to that location.

Thus, the pain is accompanied by other signs such as difficulty in moving the necks, discomfort when swallowing and the presence of lumps.

These signs are indicative only and should not replace a doctor’s diagnosis. In case of suspicion, consult a medical professional who will be able to carry out tests and, if necessary, prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Is there a difference between neck pain on the right and left side?

Unlike other parts of the human body, neck pain does not differ between the left or right side.

If it is only on one side, it may have been caused by stiff neck, overexertion or poor posture.

In general, when it is related to disease, both sides can hurt.

In both situations, this discomfort must be analyzed by a doctor who will be able to correctly diagnose this complication.

Neck pain and other symptoms

When accompanied by other symptoms, neck pain can be an indication for seeking medical help. Between them:


Swelling in the back of the neck is common after a stiff neck or bad feeling. This nuisance tends to disappear within a few days.

If the pain and swelling remain for more than 72 hours (that is, 3 days) with no sign of improvement, it is recommended to seek a doctor who will be able to assess the situation and prescribe the best treatment.

Swelling in this region can make neck movements difficult (such as lifting, lowering or turning to one side).


Neck pain along with dizziness can indicate some illnesses like migraine or hypertension .

Stress and anxiety crises can also favor the appearance of neck pain plus dizziness.

Excessive use of technological devices (cell phones, for example) can result in dizziness and pain in the region, since, in most cases, posture and vision end up being compromised.

This pain can be alleviated with compresses in place. The malaise resulting from dizziness, on the other hand, can be combated by sitting or lying down and resting for a few moments.

Avoiding sudden movements when lying down and getting up can also alleviate these symptoms.


Neck pain and nausea are symptoms that, when combined, may indicate various diseases such as:

  • Meningitis;
  • Labyrinthitis;
  • Dengue;
  • High pressure.

But only the medical diagnosis will be able to correctly define which illness causes the pain in the back of the neck and nausea.


Neck pain accompanied by headache may be indicative of pathologies such as strokes and migraines .

Emotional pathologies such as depression and anxiety can result in these manifestations.

In some cases, pain in the head can spread to the nape of the neck and vice versa. If the pain is severe and long-lasting, seek medical attention.

Are neck pains severe?

In general, neck pain is not dangerous, as long as it is mild or punctual. It can often be caused by incorrect posture or when the person sleeps badly. However, if it is persistent, there are other symptoms or worsening, professional help should be sought.

How to relieve neck pain?

How to relieve and treat neck pain will depend on the cause. If it is a torticollis, for example, it is necessary to use medications that help muscle relaxation and even make compresses.

If the cause is high blood pressure, it is essential to treat the source of the problem, adequately controlling the condition.

In any case, it is necessary to seek medical help to find out exactly the cause of the pain.

Neck pain is common and usually transient. But if it persists, it may be indicative of present (such as meningitis) and future (stroke) complications. Therefore, it should not be ignored.

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