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Can Sinus Cause Neck And Head Pain

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Can Sinus Pressure Cause Neck Pain Heres How To Treat It

Sternocleidomastoid (SCM): neck pain, headaches, and cervicogenic dizziness

It wont surprise anyone that patients seek chiropractors to treat neck pain. Recently weve been exploring the link between neck pain and a range of other painful conditions and how a chiropractor can help. In this article, were looking at the connection between a sore neck and other prevalent complaints sinus pain and a stuffy nose. Well dive into the well-established medicine, demonstrating how a misaligned neck can cause sinus problems. Well also look at how sinus pressure can cause secondary neck pain. If you regularly experience sinusitis and a stiff neck, this is the article for you.

Symptoms Of Pain Behind The Ear And Down The Neck

Pain down the neck and behind the ear is not a condition in itself. Ear and neck pain are usually symptomatic of other health issues and will usually be accompanied by other symptoms. For example, an ear infection can cause neck pain behind the ear on one side of your head and could be accompanied by swelling or discharge from your right or left ear.

Associated symptoms of pain behind the ear and neck can include:

  • Throbbing pain in the neck and on one side of your head
  • Shock-like pains at the top of your neck and behind your ear
  • Redness of the ear or behind the ear that is sore to touch
  • Soreness when turning your head from side to side
  • Intense pain from your jaw that extends behind one ear
  • An aching toothache that radiates pain to your ear
  • Increased sensitivity to light along with a thumping headache

Diagnosing The Cause Of Headaches

Understanding the exact type of headache you are suffering from and the potential causes can help you to begin a treatment plan that reduces or eliminates your pain. The first step to finding this diagnosis is speaking with a doctor about your headaches. They will ask you about your symptoms- the more information you can provide, the better they will be able to understand your concerns. Anything you can share about what causes the headache, how they feel, what helps or worsens them, and family history will all be important.

Most of the time, diagnostic tests will not be a large part of finding the cause of your headaches. Unless they are caused by a visible and distinct injury or condition that would appear on scans, they will not provide much clarity. However, your doctor may order a CT scan or MRI to look for certain issues or to rule out underlying conditions. They may also perform basic neurological exams of your mental status, motor strength, vision, and reflexes to assess your overall nerve function.

One scan that may be used is an MRA, or magnetic resonance angiogram. This is similar to an MRI and is used to see blood vessels in the brain, which can highlight any factors restricting or increasing blood flow. These blockages may trigger headaches and, if they can be identified, can be addressed through medication and procedures like a nerve block. An MRA will usually be performed when other methods have not been successful in identifying a cause for headaches.

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How Are Sinus Headaches Diagnosed

Most of the time when people diagnose themselves with a sinus headache, its really a migraine. So, its important to see your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms. If your symptoms are severe or ongoing, you may also need imaging tests. A magnetic resonance imaging test can rule out serious brain conditions. Multiple imaging tests can reveal sinus blockages and include:

  • X-rays.
  • Computed tomography scan.
  • Nasal endoscopy .

The Start Of The Chase For The Root Cause Of The Problem The Connection Between The Vagus Nerve And The Trigeminal Nerve And Sinus Drainage

Headaches and Migraines

The vagus nerve, as illustrated below, travels through the cervical spine. It travels especially close to the C1, C2, C3 vertebrae. Cervical spine instability in these regions can cause herniation or pinching of the vagus nerve, which can lead to a disruption of normal nerve communication between the vagus nerve and the trigeminal nerve and trigeminal ganglion. This disruption or herniation of the nerve can cause among the many symptoms of cluster headaches.

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What Is A Sinus Headache

“If you have neck pain and a headache, you probably don’t have a sinus headache,” says Zubair Ahmed, MD, a neurologist and headache specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Neuro-Restoration in Cleveland. “Neck pain is much more common with migraine or tension headaches.”

“Studies show that most people who complain of sinus headaches really have migraine headaches,” he says. “Sinus pain gets confused with migraine because migraine headaches cause nasal congestion and facial pain.”

According to the American Migraine Foundation, a very famous study of 30,000 people diagnosed with migraine, called the American Migraine Study II, found that when migraine was misdiagnosed, the most common diagnosis was sinus headache. Yet another study evaluated almost 3,000 people with at least six episodes of what they thought were sinus headaches. In close to 90 percent of these people, the real diagnosis turned out to be migraine.

Sinus infections are caused by viruses or bacteria that infect one or more of the sinuses in your head, explains the American Academy of OtolaryngologyHead and Neck Surgery. Your sinuses connect to your nose through drainage tubes. When a sinus gets infected, it can fill up with pus and mucus. A sinus infection typically lasts for 10 days or more. You may have headache pain, but you will also have some of these common symptoms:

  • Discolored and thick nasal mucous
  • Pain around your eyes or over your teeth

What Is The Source Of This Neck Pain

The cause of sinus and neck pain is the spinal cord. In this case, spinal cord is divided between the two sides of the spine. The left and right sides of the spine are connected by a cord called the spinal cord. It is the nerve cell that connects the brain and spinal cord of the left side to the cord of the right side. The nerves that connect the spinal cord of the left side to the heart and other brain tissue of the brain are called the vagus nerve. On the right side, the nerve that connects to the heart and the nerve that sends messages to the muscles are called the cervical nerves.

The reason why it is so important to learn to get rid of sinus, is that with the proper maintenance, sinus can be treated very easily. In the case of neck pain, sinus often causes pain in the back of the neck. This happens for several reasons.

First, it is caused by congestion of the neck muscle in the back of the neck. Second, it is caused by nerve damage. In the case of neck pain, nerve damage can occur if a nerve gets damaged when the nerve is being used as a part of the brain. This can be due to the trauma or trauma when a nerve is being used as a part of the brain. Third, the pressure on the neck muscle causes pain that makes the muscles tense up. This makes the neck more sensitive and more vulnerable.

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What Are The Treatment Options

Your primary care provider, or a neurologist, can provide recommendations for treating your headaches based on their severity and frequency, and can rule out more serious causes of your headache. Treatment for migraines includes both over-the-counter and prescription medications and preventative medications for patients with severe or frequent headaches, or if headaches are present for more than 15 days per month.

Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also be associated with rebound headaches or medication-overuse headaches if taken too often. Tell your doctor how often you take pain medications for headaches. Avoid triggers, and talk to your doctor about your sleep habits. Keep a headache diary to record your headache symptoms, triggers, and treatments.

Sinus headaches caused by migraines or tension headaches should not be treated with antibiotics. Because there are similar symptoms between acute sinusitis and migraine headaches with nasal and sinus symptoms, it can be difficult to tell if your symptoms are truly a sinus infection. Sinus pain and pressure without discolored nasal discharge is most likely not a sinus infection. If you have been diagnosed with frequent sinus infections and have been treated with repeated episodes of antibiotics without improvement, migraines or tension headaches could be causing your sinus pain and pressure.

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Distinguish Between Sinus Migraine

Houston Chiropractor Dr Gregory Johnson Treats Sinuses, Headache & Neck Pain Naturally

Takashima said a physicians first step when seeing a patient complaining of headaches is to make sure the pain is sinus related. Doctors ask about the patients history of allergies, sinus infections, or congestion problems to pinpoint if the sinuses are the cause of the pain.Correctly diagnosing the pain is important because, for example, you dont want to treat a migraine with allergy medication, said Takashima. A toothache can actually cause pain in the cheek area, which is often times confused for sinus problems. Your doctor may tap on your teeth to see if that triggers sinus type pains.

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The True Cause Of Sinus Headaches

If you are looking for information online about sinus headaches, the data you are likely to find may be very confusing. Thats because these articles dont differentiate between sinus headaches from infections and sinus headaches from completely different causes.

Both doctors and laypeople suffering from these headaches often believe that if theres a headache centered over the sinuses, there must be a sinus infection. This is very often not the case. A sinus infection requires a completely different treatment from the care needed to relieve a sinus headache that is not caused by an infection.

Cold Or Warm Compress

You can use a cold compress or a heating pad to help get relief from any type of pain behind the ear or neck pain.

For example, doctors on the website say that a cold or warm compress may help to get rid of pain from an ear infection. You could try alternating between both to help get rid of mastoid bone pain due to an earache.16

How to use heat for ear and neck pain:

  • Dip a clean washcloth in hot water and wring out the excess.
  • Press on the painful area behind your ear or on your neck for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Dip in warm water as needed to keep the washcloth warm.
  • Use 3 or 4 times a day to help reduce pain in your ear or neck.
  • How to use ice for pain behind ear and neck:

  • Put some crushed ice in a plastic sealable bag and cover with a towel.
  • Place the cold compress on your sore ear or sore neck to help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Apply for 15 minutes at a time.
  • Use 3 or 4 times a day to help relieve discomfort from behind your ear and neck.
  • After 2 or 3 days when any swelling has gone down, you should switch to a heating pad.
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    Proper Neck Shape Helps Sinus Drainage

    The spine and tissues of the neck have a natural curved shape when healthy its when the neck is in this shape that everything works best. Misalignment of the vertebrae can alter this optimal geometry and lead to issues. When it comes to sinusitis, this likely means blocking the tubes that drain mucus from the sinus into the nose and throat, leading to congestion and sinusitis.

    Other Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection


    The symptoms of a sinus infection often resemble those of a bad cold. These can include a runny nose, headache, facial pain, and nasal congestion. In addition to typical cold symptoms, a sinus infection may cause yellow- or green-tinged mucus. You may also experience post-nasal drip and a sore throat, along with puffiness and soreness around the face and sinuses. You may also have a dry, unproductive cough and a fever. Fatigue and bad breath are also symptoms of sinus infections.

    Different sinuses also present different types of pain if infected. For example, infection of the sinuses around your eyes may result in red, puffy eyes that look like an allergic flare-up, while infection of the sinuses in your cheeks may cause excessive bad breath and pain in your teeth.

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    When To Seek Medical Attention

    In addition to the more problematic causes outlined above, headaches can also be the result of many benign causes, so it is easy to mistake something serious for something mild or vice-versa. A few general rules of thumb:

    • Any severe headache that suddenly appears without warning or discernable cause should be brought to your doctors attention and needs to be checked out
    • Persistent or recurrent headaches that undergo a change in frequency, severity, or steadily worsen should warrant a consult with your doctor
    • Headaches that accompany red eyes, physical injury, visual disturbances , or cognitive/personality changes deserve immediate medical attention

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    Summary And Contact Us Can We Help You How Do I Know If Im A Good Candidate

    We hope you found this article informative and it helped answer many of the questions you may have surrounding Chronic Sinusitis and Eustachian Tube Dysfunction in your complicated neck pain case. Just like you, we want to make sure you are a good fit for our clinic prior to accepting your case. While our mission is to help as many people with chronic pain as we can, sadly, we cannot accept all cases. We have a multi-step process so our team can really get to know you and your case to ensure that it sounds like you are a good fit for the unique testing and treatments that we offer here.


    1 Zannolli R, Acquaviva A, DAmbrosio A, Pucci L, Balestri P, Morgese G. Vagal and hypoglossal Bells palsy. Journal of child neurology. 2000 Feb 15:130-2. 2 Franz B, Altidis P, Altidis B, Collis-Brown G. The cervicogenic otoocular syndrome: a suspected forerunner of Ménières disease. International Tinnitus Journal. 1999 5:125-30. 3 Petersen SM, Jull GA, Learman KE. Self-reported sinus headaches are associated with neck pain and cervical musculoskeletal dysfunction: a preliminary observational case control study. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy. 2019 Aug 8 27:245-52. 4 Steilen D, Hauser R, Woldin B, Sawyer S. Chronic neck pain: making the connection between capsular ligament laxity and cervical instability. The open orthopaedics journal. 2014 8:326.

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    The Cervical Spine And Cervicogenic Otoocular Syndrome

    Next, we are going to visit the opinion of a paper presented in The International Tinnitus Journal. Here the researchers sought to make a connection between cervical spine disorders and hearing problems that would eventually result in tinnitus and Ménières disease. Here are the summary learning points:

  • The patients of the study were given a diagnosis of cervicogenic otoocular syndrome.
  • Within this group, 43 patients did not respond to preceding conservative management, and 3 patients developed Ménières disease within 12 months.
  • Also within this group, 8 patients responded to physiotherapy only, with a return of the SP/AP ratio to normal levels.
  • A total of 187 patients had a sensorineural hearing loss, an elevated SP/AP ratio, mydriasis on the side of the affected ear, a functional disorder of the upper cervical spine.
  • Of the patients, 186 had mild Eustachian tube dysfunction and had diagnosed Ménières disease.
  • Patients with COO syndrome invariably responded to the insertion of a middle-ear ventilation tube, with the return of the SP/AP ratio to normal levels and relief of symptoms. Patients with Ménières disease had a mixed response. The cervicogenic otoocular syndrome is suspected to be a forerunner of Ménières disease.
  • What is being suggested here? Simply that a functional disorder of the upper cervical spine can cause hearing problems.

    A brief discussion of Menieres disease

    Olive Oil For Pain Behind The Ear

    Sinus Problems or Myofascial Pain? The Truth About Your Neck, Shoulder and Facial Pain

    You can use olive oil as a natural medicine to soften ear wax and help treat a mild infection of the outer ear. Warm olive oil helps to loosen and dissolve ear wax to naturally unblock your ears.

    How to use olive oil for earache:

  • Slightly warm the olive oil.
  • Put some of the warm olive oil into a dropper.
  • Lie on your side and put some drops of the olive oil remedy in your sore ear.
  • Let the remedy go to work for a few minutes.
  • Put a cotton ball on your ear, sit up, and remove excess wax from your outer ear.
  • Repeat a few times a day until the pain behind your ear has gone for good.
  • You can also use food grade 3% hydrogen peroxide to help clear a mild outer ear infection that is causing you pain.

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    How Conventional Medicine Treats Sinus Headaches

    Many medical doctors will treat a sinus headache as though it is a sinus infection. These infections might require antibacterial or antifungal medication if the cause is bacterial or fungal. But a sinus headache without infection being present will not respond to these treatments.

    However, antihistamines or decongestants are often prescribed by conventional doctors or are simply picked up by the sufferer with the belief that the pain originates inside the sinuses. Because this isnt the source of pain for many sinus headaches, the only reason they might feel better is that they are taking an analgesic that is blocking the pain from another, indirect source.

    Its far better to provide treatment for the correct cause that will remedy and resolve the underlying condition. Now, lets look at that real cause.

    Sinus Headache Vs Migraine

    Many people confuse sinus headaches with migraine headaches. Migraine is a neurological condition that causes episodes involving moderate-to-severe headaches, along with other symptoms.

    According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine is underdiagnosed. In several studies, many people who thought they had sinus pain actually had migraine pain. It is one of the most common misdiagnoses for migraine.

    Migraine headaches and sinus headaches can share similar symptoms, including:

    • pain in one area of the face or forehead, often on one side of the head
    • pain that worsens with physical activity
    • a blocked nose or watery eyes

    However, migraine can also cause:

    • sensitivity to light or sound
    • nausea
    • vomiting

    Some with migraine also experience auras, which are temporary sensory disturbances. These may include tingling sensations on the skin, visual hallucinations, or auditory hallucinations. Sinus headaches cannot cause auras.

    Migraine headaches are also typically more severe than sinus headaches. They can prevent normal functioning at work, in social settings, or at home. The treatment for each condition is different, so if a person has frequent headaches, they should consult a doctor for a diagnosis.

    If a sinus headache is not causing too much pain, a person may be able to manage it at home. A person should rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take OTC medications to relieve the pain, if possible.

    Seek medical help immediately if someone experiences any of the following:

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