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.
Common Causes of Front Neck Pain
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 MayoClinic.com, 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
- heart inflammation
- enlargement of the spleen
- breathing difficulties 5
- Mononucleosis is an infection that can cause pain in the front of the neck 5.
- Sharing an infected glass or utensil is another way in which the infection may be transmitted.
Common Causes of Front Neck Pain
What Are the Causes of an Infection of the Tonsils?
Is an Ear Infection Contagious?
Vitamins for Mononucleosis
Causes of Kids' Breathing Problems
Causes of Pain in the Neck Near the Throat
Sudden Neck Pain in a Child
Causes of Pain in the Breast Area
How to Reduce Eye Redness
How to Stop a Bleeding Tongue
- The Merck Manuals Online Medical Libarary: Introduction
- FamilyDoctor: Neck Pain
- MedlinePlus: Meningitis
- KidsHealth: Strep Throat
- MayoClinic.com: Mononucleosis
- Hersi K, Gonzalez FJ, Kondamudi NP. Meningitis. [Updated 2019 Dec 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459360/
- National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Viral Meningitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated August 6, 2019. cdc.gov
- Bahr NC, Boulware DR. Methods of rapid diagnosis for the etiology of meningitis in adults. Biomark Med. 2014;8(9):1085–1103. doi:10.2217/bmm.14.67
- Hersi K, Gonzalez FJ, Kondamudi NP. Meningitis. [Updated 2019 Dec 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-.
- Hoffman O, Weber RJ. Pathophysiology and treatment of bacterial meningitis. Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2009;2(6):1–7. doi:10.1177/1756285609337975
- Ku LC, Boggess KA, Cohen-Wolkowiez M. Bacterial meningitis in infants. Clin Perinatol. 2015;42(1):29–viii. doi:10.1016/j.clp.2014.10.004
- National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Bacterial Meningitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated August 6, 2019. cdc.gov
- Swain CL, Martin DR. Survival of meningococci outside of the host: implications for acquisition [published correction appears in Epidemiol Infect. 2007 Nov;135(8):1406]. Epidemiol Infect. 2007;135(2):315–320. doi:10.1017/S0950268806006789
- Tattevin P, Tchamgoué S, Belem A, Bénézit F, Pronier C, Revest M. Aseptic meningitis. Rev Neurol (Paris). 2019;175(7-8):475–480. doi:10.1016/j.neurol.2019.07.005
- Lee BE, Davies HD. Aseptic meningitis. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2007;20(3):272–277. doi:10.1097/QCO.0b013e3280ad4672
- Colpitts TM, Conway MJ, Montgomery RR, Fikrig E. West Nile Virus: biology, transmission, and human infection. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2012;25(4):635–648. doi:10.1128/CMR.00045-12
- Bonthius DJ. Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus: an underrecognized cause of neurologic disease in the fetus, child, and adult. Semin Pediatr Neurol. 2012;19(3):89–95. doi:10.1016/j.spen.2012.02.002
- Agrawal S, Nadel S. Acute bacterial meningitis in infants and children: epidemiology and management. Paediatr Drugs. 2011;13(6):385–400. doi:10.2165/11593340-000000000-00000
- Kastrup O, Wanke I, Maschke M. Neuroimaging of infections. NeuroRx. 2005;2(2):324–332. doi:10.1602/neurorx.2.2.324
- Doherty CM, Forbes RB. Diagnostic Lumbar Puncture. Ulster Med J. 2014;83(2):93–102.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Viral Meningitis. Updated August 6, 2019.
- Baldwin KJ, Zunt JR. Evaluation and treatment of chronic meningitis. Neurohospitalist. 2014;4(4):185–195. doi:10.1177/1941874414528940
- Brouwer MC, Tunkel AR, van de Beek D. Epidemiology, diagnosis, and antimicrobial treatment of acute bacterial meningitis. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2010;23(3):467–492. doi:10.1128/CMR.00070-09
- Taj A, Jamil N. Cerebrospinal Fluid Concentrations of Biogenic Amines: Potential Biomarkers for Diagnosis of Bacterial and Viral Meningitis. Pathogens. 2018 Apr 13;7(2). pii: E39. doi:10.3390/pathogens7020039.
- Villena R, Safadi MAP, Valenzuela MT, Torres JP, Finn A, O'Ryan M. Global epidemiology of serogroup B meningococcal disease and opportunities for preventionwith novel recombinant protein vaccines. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2018 Apr 18:1-50. doi:10.1080/21645515.2018.1458175. [Epub ahead of print]
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.