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Carotidynia: Care Instructions


Carotidynia is a pain that you feel in your neck or face. It is linked with physical changes that can happen in a carotid artery in your neck. Your neck may feel tender in the area of the artery. The pain often goes up the neck to the jaw, ear, or forehead.

Some diseases can cause carotidynia. Your doctor will check for those. Simple carotidynia may be treated with pain medicine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Use a cold pack where your neck hurts. This may help decrease pain and swelling. If the problem is near the shoulder or upper back, ice the back of the neck. Do this for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. You may also use ice frozen in a foam cup. Be sure not to leave it on your skin too long, or you can get frostbite.
  • Try heat if ice does not help. To apply heat, put a warm water bottle, a heating pad set on low, or a warm cloth on your neck. Do not go to sleep with a heating pad on your skin.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce pain and swelling. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have severe pain in your neck, ear, or head and have numbness on one side of your body.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your home treatment does not work.
  • Your pain gets worse or keeps you from doing what you normally do.
  • You get numbness or weakness anywhere.
  • You have a fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.