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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

What is this throbbing in my neck?



For the last couple of months I have been experiencing an uncomfortable, occasionally painful, throbbing sensation in my neck. It happens at random and can occur on either side. These episodes of throbbing last several seconds and happens off and on throughout the day. I have always enjoyed good health, don`t smoke, and rarely drink. I am a 45 year old woman, normal weight, and do moderate exercise. I can`t tell if this is a pulled muscle, a pinched nerve (both of which I would imagine to be more painful) or even stress. Or something more dire. I do get occasional migraines but this throbbing has never been one of my migraine symptoms. All my blood tests/cholesterol/blood pressure are normal. Aside from Tylenol for back pain, I don`t take any medicines regularly. It is starting to worry me -- I am afraid there`s some big clot in the veins in my neck that`s going to just kill me suddenly! My doctor has assured me that I`m probably fine, although I am scheduled for an ultrasound next week. In the meantime, I`m starting to obsess on this throbbing! Any idea what could be wrong with me?


Throbbing in the neck that is intermittent, unilateral or bilateral is a fairly vague symptom that could be caused by numerous things including musculoskeletal or cardiovascular abnormalities. I think that a complete history and exam by your GP is a great first start. If no etiology is found, you should be re-examined at intervals.

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Response by:

Yash J Patil, MD Yash J Patil, MD
Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati