Infections That Cause Neck Pain

Many infections can cause neck pain. According to the Merck Manuals website, infection-related neck pain can be extremely painful. The FamilyDoctor website states that infection-related neck pain may be caused by a simple viral illness or by serious infections of the structures that surround the central nervous system -- the brain and the spinal cord 2. A person who suspects she has an infection should visit her doctor to determine the cause of the pain.


Meningitis is an infection that can cause neck pain 3. According to MedlinePlus, meningitis is inflammation of the thin tissue, called the meninges, that envelops the brain and spinal cord 3. The two principle types of meningitis are viral meningitis and bacterial meningitis 3. Viral meningitis is more common 3. A person contracts viral meningitis when a virus enters the body through the nose or mouth and reaches the brain 3. Bacterial meningitis, although less common, is more deadly than viral meningitis 3. Bacterial meningitis can obstruct blood flow to the brain, causing stroke and irreversible brain damage 3. Common signs and symptoms associated with meningitis include a sudden fever, severe headache and a stiff, painful neck 3. Although anybody can get meningitis, it's most common among people with compromised immune systems 3.

Strep Throat

Strep throat is an infection that can cause pain in the anterior area or front part of the neck 4. The KidsHealth website states that strep throat is caused by group A streptococcus bacteria 4. Group A streptococcus bacteria are commonly found in the nose and throat, and the infection is easily spread from person to person by sneezing, coughing or shaking hands. According to KidsHealth, although anybody can get strep throat, this infection more commonly affects children and teenagers 4. Strep infections usually occur during the school year, when large groups of children or teenagers are in close contact with each other. Common signs and symptoms associated with strep throat include throat and neck pain, fever, stomach pain and red, swollen tonsils 4. KidsHealth notes that with appropriate medical care, along with sufficient rest and increased consumption of fluids, affected individuals should rebound quickly 4.


Mononucleosis is an infection that can cause pain in the front of the neck 5. According to, mononucleosis -- also called the kissing disease -- is a viral infection transmitted from person to person by saliva 5. Kissing, coughing and sneezing are all methods by which the virus is passed. Sharing an infected glass or utensil is another way in which the infection may be transmitted. Mononucleosis may cause:

  • certain health complications
  • including hepatitis
  • jaundice
  • anemia
  • heart inflammation
  • enlargement of the spleen
  • breathing difficulties 5