Can Sinus Pressure Cause Neck Pain? All You Need to Understand

Friday, July 30, 2021

Are you the person who seems to catch the cold multiple times per year? Do you deal with chronic sinus infections? Do you suffer from those annoying seasonal allergies?

If you do, have you ever noticed that your neck also hurts when your sinuses are congested? Well, in fact, there might be a connection between the two. While it's not always the case that your neck hurts because of your sinuses being clogged, often, there is a connection.

Here, we're exploring this connection and going over a few ways physiotherapy might be able to help. So, without further ado, let's get started.

How do you relieve sinus pressure in your neck?

A few ways to relieve sinus pressure in your neck include:

  • Decongestant and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Antihistamine medications if your sinus pressure is related to allergies
  • Antibiotics in the case of a sinus infection
  • Warm compress on your sinuses
  • Nasal spray or sinus rinse

As always, it's important to consult your GP before taking any medication. But you should find some relief with ibuprofen or paracetamol.

Using a warm compress on your face or behind your neck can also loosen up the pressure you might be feeling. Saline nasal sprays and rinses such as a neti pot are also often useful. You should also rest and drink plenty of water when recovering from a sinus infection.

From there, you should try to find the underlying cause of your sinus pain or your neck pain as it's not always clear which issue is causing the other.

When it comes to sinus pain, avoid the common cold by ensuring your hands are washed and staying away from those who are showing symptoms of a cold. If you have allergies, take an antihistamine regularly to prevent sinus pain.

You might also consider working with a physiotherapist for any neck pain you may be experiencing as this could be due to poor posture, scoliosis, past injuries, or poor exercise form. A physio can assist you with strengthening and mobilising your neck and its surrounding muscles to relieve tension and offer some respite.

If you have a fever, sinus pressure, and neck pain or stiffness all at once, it's best you see a doctor straight away as this could be a sign of a more serious problem such as meningitis.

Can your neck hurt from a sinus infection?

Yes, your neck can hurt from a sinus infection. Either your neck may be causing the sinus infection (which is relatively rare) or your sinus infection may be causing a tension headache which has extended into your neck.

To understand why your neck might be involved, let's first discuss what a sinus infection is.

What is a sinus infection?

A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, creates pressure in the nasal cavity and causes pain and discomfort. Sinusitis can be caused by a virus, bacteria, and in some rare cases, fungus.

Sinus infections are often confused with the common cold because they present similar symptoms. However, they are two different ailments and colds often cause sinus infections, which often last longer than someone who only got a cold.

Colds typically last 3 to 5 days whereas sinus infections can last up to 10 days.

Sinusitis can also become a chronic condition whereas colds come and go. If your sinus infections last for eight weeks or more, that would be considered chronic sinusitis.

Symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Sinus pain and pressure
  • Headaches
  • Postnasal drip
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Coloured mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath
  • Tooth pain

Can Sinus Pressure Cause Neck Pain

If your sinusitis lasts for more than 7 days, you've had a fever for 3-4 days, or if you feel like you're in particularly intense pain, you should go see your doctor for the best advice.

Neck Pain and Sinus Pressure

The two main symptoms of sinusitis associated with neck pain are sinus pain/pressure and headaches. These symptoms can present themselves down into your neck since the muscles of your face and neck are all connected.

While the two aren't always connected, there's a good chance that you'll get a sore neck whenever you deal with sinus pressure, whether from sinusitis, allergies, or the common cold.

Why does my neck hurt when my sinuses are bad?

Your next may hurt when your sinuses are plugged up because the muscles in the front of your neck as well as by your trapezius are involved. However, there are a few possible reasons why your next might hurt whenever your sinuses get clogged or painful.

Weather Changes Cause Allergies & Muscle Pain

Allergies and hay fever are caused by seasonal changes that can also affect your muscles and joints. Pollen in the air can cause inflammation in the body which is why your nasal passages become obstructed. But, the inflammation doesn't necessarily stay confined to your nose.

Inflammation also notoriously causes joint pain. For some, even the slightest weather changes can be felt as aches and pains in your body. So, for the same reason that your nasal cavity becomes inflamed due to seasonal allergies, your neck pain might also be caused by seasonal changes.

Neck Pain Can Be Caused By Tense Muscles

It's no secret that our muscles start to act when we're particularly tense or stressed out. If you're experiencing sinus pressure and pain, you're probably fatigued from lack of sleep and constantly bracing yourself while coughing and sneezing.

Especially if you have an underlying neck injury, joint issues, or spinal disc conditions, all that tension could manifest itself as neck pain.

Sphenoid Sinus Pressure is Felt in the Neck

You might also be experiencing neck pain alongside sinus pressure if your sphenoid sinus is inflamed. The sphenoid sinus is a deep sinus situated in the middle of your skull towards the back of your head and behind your eyes.

If you naturally have a large sphenoid sinus, it can reach past your occipital bone and the pain felt from any pressure in this sinus can extend down into your neck.

Where is sphenoid sinus pain felt?

Sphenoid sinus pain is felt in the back of your head and neck. As we mentioned above, pressure in the sphenoid sinus could be a reason why you feel pain in your neck when your nose is clogged.

Can Sinus Pressure Cause Neck Pain

We each have four pairs of sinuses. A sinus is an air-filled cavity that can become congested and cause pressure, nasal congestion, headaches, runny noses, coughing, and sneezing.

The sphenoid sinus is located deep in the middle of your skull near your optic nerve. When an infection travels to this particular sinus, toothaches, earaches, and pain in the neck is more common.

Sphenoid sinus infections can be particularly dangerous because it is located right next to your cavernous sinus which is a blood-filled sinus situated at the base of your brain. An infection in this area can, in rare instances, cause blood clots due to inflammation which can cause swelling in the brain. This is why extreme face and neck pain when experiencing a sinus infection is worth a trip to your doctor.

However, rest assured that sphenoid sinus infections are rare, making up only about 3% of all sinus infections.

Physiotherapy for Sinus Infections

In most cases, if you're experiencing neck pain every time you get a sinus infection, a cold, or allergies, it's probably a sign that you might need to work with a physiotherapist.

Extra inflammation in your body can cause added tension and pain in your muscles and joints. And since your neck is in such close proximity to your sinuses, it makes sense that your neck might be getting the grunt of that inflammation.

If you have arthritis, seasonal changes could be the culprit and working with a physio can teach you some personalised exercises to work through any seasonal pain you might have in your neck.

If you have an underlying injury that sinus pressure simply makes worse, physiotherapy can help with that too. All injuries need rehabilitation and even old injuries often need some TLC.

Tensing your body and sleeping poorly can also affect how much your neck might hurt with a sinus infection. Physios can help you find ways to relax your body, even during stressful situations, and can work with your on sleeping positions and prescribing specific stretches.

These are just some examples of how a physiotherapist can help you through sinus infections and allergies if you are experiencing neck pain as well.

And again, if you're worried that your neck pain may be caused by an infection in your sphenoid sinus, see your doctor immediately.

If you suffer from chronic sinus infections or seasonal allergies, let us know. Book an appointment at one of our convenient Physio Inq clinics or let our mobile services come to you. Sinus pressure is no fun and we want to help you feel better, more often. Contact us today!


This article was originally written by Jonathan Moody from Physio Inq

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