What are the Most Common Causes of Neck Pain and Swelling?

Florence J. Tipton
Florence J. Tipton
Lymph nodes in the head and neck.
Lymph nodes in the head and neck.

Some of the causes for neck pain and swelling may represent a wide spectrum of health conditions. In general, some of the common types of neck pain could be from a swollen neck gland, a sinus or ear infection, and the presence of an autoimmune disease. Swollen lymph nodes are usually caused by several types of conditions such as an infection, virus, or even cancer. Swelling that is the result of neck and ear pain could mean that a person has something as simple as the common cold. Neck and sinus pain can also cause swelling and could be an indication that an infection is present.

Lymph nodes usually become swollen due to bacterial or viral infections.
Lymph nodes usually become swollen due to bacterial or viral infections.

An infection is a typical symptom of the various conditions that may cause neck pain and swelling. A number of medical experts suggest that neck pain and swelling could be the result of over 100 different types of conditions. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should see a doctor for treatment and to rule out a severe illness.

Lymph nodes are located in the neck and may swell because of a virus, infection, or inflammation. The lymphatic system is responsible for fighting off infections in the body. This activity can lead to neck pain and swelling as an abscess may form, resulting in a staphylococcus infection — more commonly known as a staph infection. Symptoms such as stiffness or redness may also raise concerns that a more serious condition is present.

Cancer is a less common cause of neck pain and swelling.
Cancer is a less common cause of neck pain and swelling.

Treating neck pain that comes from swollen lymph nodes is associated with the source of the swelling. Over-the-counter medication may help to reduce the swelling and relieve the pain. When swollen lymph nodes are caused by a serious illness, doctors may have to use more aggressive treatments.

When neck pain and swelling occur as a result of sinus problems, a person may need to schedule an appointment with a physician. If the pain and swelling is the result of a sinus infection, an antibiotic is usually prescribed. Lack of treatment could lead to the progression of serious complications. Some people may have to be hospitalized because the infection can spread to other areas of the body such as the eyes or the brain.

Trauma to the neck area can cause pain and swelling.
Trauma to the neck area can cause pain and swelling.

Signs of a respiratory infection or the presence of a foreign object accidentally getting into the ear could be the cause of neck and ear pain and swelling. Neck pain and swelling might also result from trauma to the neck area. Sleeping in an awkward position may also cause neck pain and swelling.

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    • Lymph nodes in the head and neck.
      Lymph nodes in the head and neck.
    • Lymph nodes usually become swollen due to bacterial or viral infections.
      Lymph nodes usually become swollen due to bacterial or viral infections.
    • Cancer is a less common cause of neck pain and swelling.
      Cancer is a less common cause of neck pain and swelling.
    • Trauma to the neck area can cause pain and swelling.
      Trauma to the neck area can cause pain and swelling.
    • Neck pain and swelling may be a sign of meningitis.
      Neck pain and swelling may be a sign of meningitis.