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Sinuses are air-filled structures in your head that serve many purposes. They create a mucus that moisturizes the inside of your nose. Additionally, sinuses affect the way your voice sounds and act as a cushion to help protect your brain and eyes.

Your nose and sinuses together help control the amount of nitric oxide in your body and lungs and contribute to your immune health.

A sinus infection happens when there’s swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. This inflammation can block the sinuses, causing them to fill with fluid instead of air.

While it’s not a common symptom, some people with sinus infections report experiencing neck pain or a stiff neck.

Read on to learn more about the possible link between your sinuses and neck pain.

In some cases, a sinus infection can cause neck pain and stiffness.

You have four main types of sinuses:

  • Maxillary: located in each cheek
  • Ethmoid: located on each side of the nose, between your eyes
  • Frontal: located on each side of your forehead
  • Sphenoid: located deeper in your skull, behind the eyes

The sphenoid sinuses, specifically, are known to cause neck pain if they become infected. A sphenoid sinus infection can also cause ear pain and headaches.

These sphenoid sinuses are less frequently infected than other types.

Some anecdotal reports suggest that neck pain due to a sinus infection may feel like stiff or sore muscles. It might also be a type of pain that shoots down into your neck.

In addition to neck pain, other symptoms of a sinus infection include:

In a 2019 study published in the Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, researchers reported that people who said they had sinus headaches also experienced neck pain.

In fact, nearly 84 percent reported neck pain associated with headaches and about 68 percent reported neck pain that spread to the head. Another 74.8 percent had headaches worsen with neck movements or posture.

Anecdotally, some people with seasonal allergies also report having neck pain. This could be due to tight or tense muscles that result when you sneeze or cough.

Another possible explanation is that the congestion in your sphenoid sinuses causes pressure in the back of your head and neck.

The common cold or flu are other illnesses that may occur with neck pain.

If you have a sinus infection and neck pain, the right treatments, or combination of therapies, can help you feel better.

You may need to treat one or both issues to find relief. Some of these treatments may relieve neck pain even if it’s not related to the sinus.

Medical treatment for sinus infection

Treatments for sinus infections may include:

In severe cases, surgery may be needed to correct structural problems in the sinuses or drain the sinuses.

Medical treatment for neck pain

Some medical treatments for neck pain include:

Home remedies for sinus infections

Sometimes, home remedies can help you feel better. Here are some options to relieve sinus infection symptoms:

Home remedies for neck pain

You may want to try an alternative treatment, such as:

Additionally, these home remedies may help provide relief:

Sinus infections and neck pain are both common conditions. Sinus infections impact about 31 million people in the United States. About 80 percent of people will experience neck pain at some point in their lives.

Because these conditions are so common, it may be difficult to know when to see a doctor for your discomfort.

When to see a doctor for sinus infection

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should see a doctor if you have a sinus infection with:

  • changes in vision or difficulty with eye movement (especially in a child)
  • severe symptoms, such as an intense headache or facial pain
  • worsening symptoms after you initially felt better
  • symptoms that last longer than 10 days and haven’t improved
  • fever that lasts longer than 3 to 4 days

Additionally, you should see a medical professional if you’ve had several sinus infections in the past year.

When to see a doctor for neck pain

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, you should seek medical care if your neck pain is:

  • continuous
  • severe
  • accompanied by pain that radiates down your legs or arms
  • accompanied by headaches, tingling, numbness, or weakness

In general, it’s a good idea to see a doctor if you’re worried about your neck pain, or if the pain is affecting your quality of life.

Sinus infections happen when there’s inflammation in your sinus cavities. They can cause many symptoms, including neck pain.

While neck pain isn’t a hallmark sign of a sinus infection, it’s a symptom to be aware of. If you develop a sinus infection with neck pain that’s severe or doesn’t go away, you should see a doctor. There are many treatments that can help relieve your discomfort.