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There are several possible reasons why sinus and neck pain occur simultaneously. A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, occurs when the sinuses become inflamed and is the most common cause of this type of pain. Neck and sinus pain are closely related to sinusitis of the sphenoid sinuses, which, because of their location, can cause pain in the neck. A person might also experience sinus and neck pain simultaneously, but for unrelated reasons. It is possible for an individual to suffer from one cause of sinus pain, while at the same time, suffer from one of the most common causes of neck pain such as muscle strain or arthritis.
Sinusitis is characterized by the swelling of the sinuses, which are a series of cavities near the nasal passage. This condition can be caused by the presence of bacteria, viruses, or an allergen. There are four pairs of sinuses in the human body, which are known as the maxillary, the frontal, the enthmoid and the sphenoid sinuses. When they become inflamed during a bout of sinusitis, they are prevented from draining appropriately. Unable to drain, thick mucus begins to gather creating pressure and ultimately pain in the affected sinus cavity.
While sinus pain accompanies all types of sinus infections, neck pain does not typically occur during all types of sinusitis. Generally, neck pain is associated with inflammation in the sphenoid sinuses. These sinuses are located towards the back of the head and when they become inflamed, the pressure that results can often cause pain as far down as the neck. Sinusitis in the sphenoid sinuses is therefore the most common cause of concurrent sinus and neck pain.
There are four main types of sinusitis. These are distinguished by the length of time that symptoms continue. Chronic sinusitis lasts for longer than eight weeks. Acute sinusitis is characterized as lasting less than four weeks and subacute sinusitis lasts anywhere from four to eight weeks. Finally, recurrent acute sinusitis characterizes three or more recurring bouts of acute sinusitis per year.
Sinus and neck pain can also be caused by unrelated conditions. For instance, a patient may suffer from sinusitis of the frontal sinuses, which is unlikely to cause concurrent neck pain. At the same time, however, they may also suffer from muscle strain in the neck that was caused by sitting at a computer for long hours. Muscle strain could cause the patient to experience neck pain while the frontal sinusitis causes them to experience sinus pain.