Carotid artery hurts


The Carotid artery is this arterial vessel, the the Blood away from the heart towards the head and brain distributed. The carotid artery is called in Latin Carotid artery. she leads oxygenated blood, that in Cardiopulmonary circulation oxygenated from the lungs. The Carotid artery rises directly on the left side of the Main artery (the aortic arch), on the right it goes from an intermediate piece, the Truncus brachiocephalicus from. On both sides it is initially as common Common carotid artery present, but then divides into an inner and an outer branch, the Internal carotid artery and the External carotid artery.

Of the inner branch takes care of that brain and the eye with blood that outer part supplies the head including the Cervical organs (Thyroid, throat and larynx) with blood. Between the fork sit each Receptors, the Carotic sinus and Carotid body to be named. Of the Carotid sinus is a Pressure gaugethat measures blood pressure and can relay information to the brain. Of the Carotid body is a Chemoreceptorwhich, among other things, can measure the oxygen content of the blood and transmit it to the brain.

When the carotid artery hurting, can have causes muscular tension or one Vasoconstriction (Stenosis) be. After an accident or a blow to the neck, a Carotid dissection occur.


The patients mostly describe Tenderness over the carotid artery. She can too hardens palpably be when arteriosclerotic changes (Calcifications) are present. At Muscle tension run the Pain rather along a muscle, for example along the Sternocleidomastoid muscle.
Differential diagnostic come at Sore throat also Lymph node swelling, difficulties swallowing and Inflammation of the thyroid gland or –Diseases into consideration. Likewise, a Infection of the throat and pharynx lead to pain in the neck, which is then often caused by difficulties swallowing and also general symptoms like fever and Exhaustion to be accompanied.

right side

Bilateral pain in the area of ​​the carotid artery can occur as a symptom of a bacterial or viral infection.
If it is purely on the other hand right side limited discomfort, it may be one Lateral angina (Lateral cord angina). It affects the lymphatics that run along the back of the throat. Usually it is pathogens that settle there after a viral infection and cause other general symptoms.
A right-hand one Tonsillitis, which is usually triggered by bacteria, also causes a one-sided symptoms with general symptoms.
If there are no signs of infection, a dissection should be a tear in the vessel wall, the right Carotid artery be thought.

Complaints under pressure

If painful discomfort occurs in the carotid artery after applying pressure, the vessel does not have to be directly affected, but rather doverlying structures. These include on the one hand Muscles like the sternocleidomastoid muscle, that of a Tension affected can be, or swollen lymph nodes as part of an infectious event. Irritation of the nerves supplying the jaw and neck muscles cannot be ruled out.


Pain in the carotid artery areathat radiate from the jaw can on the one hand on a Muscle tension, for example the masticatory muscles, indicate or in connection with a Carotid dissection, a splitting of the vascular wall layers with subsequent bleeding. Grinding teeth During sleep, which often occurs due to stress, can be seen as one of the causes of muscular tension. The pain is not limited to the jaw region, but also extends towards the carotid artery.


A Lateral angina (Lateral cord angina) with infectious colonization of the lymphatic tracts of the back of the pharynx caused besides unilateral pain in the lateral neck region, also general disease complaints. Fever, body aches, swallowing difficulties, but also radiating pain in the ear are possible. In the further course, those affected may suffer from ear pain. But there is not always an infectious cause.
Tension-related painEarache around the carotid artery, often in association with stress, can also cause ear pain. Muscle tension in the region around the ear acts as a trigger.

Pain in the carotid artery when inhaling

Carotid artery pain when inhaled may indicate a Muscle tension in the neck muscles or a infectious events indicate and in the vast majority of cases are not to be assessed as symptoms of the artery itself. In particular, the so-called turn-of-the-neck muscle, the Sternocleidomastoid muscle can be affected by painful tension. Furthermore, should also be a Blockage of the cervical vertebrae be thought.

a headache

At a headache in connection with discomfort in the area of ​​the carotid artery nerve involvement should be considered. Mostly these are symptoms that have existed over a long period of time and that relate to muscular Tension or blockages in the vertebral area are due.
Sudden, stabbing a headache should be taken seriously seriously. You can use a narrowed carotid artery or dissection of the carotid and need urgent clarification.


The causes of pain over the carotid artery can be muscle tension or vasoconstriction.

If the carotid artery hurts, it is often due to muscular tension. The neck muscles are often affected by tension due to poor posture when sitting (computer work etc.) or due to little movement. This can project into the throat and be misinterpreted as pain from the carotid artery.

The most common carotid disease is a narrowing of this artery known as Carotid stenosis referred to as. This occurs in the context of arteriosclerosis, i.e. calcification of the vessels. Atherosclerosis often develops with age, but some risk factors can cause it to develop earlier and earlier. These include high cholesterol (Hypercholesterolemia), which often occurs in combination with obesity. Cholesterol builds up with an unhealthy diet and little physical activity. Alcohol and nicotine also lead to high cholesterol levels. High blood pressure is also one of the risk factors for carotid stenosis. The narrowing of the vessels can lead to pain in the neck area, although the stenosis itself is usually asymptomatic, meaning that the patient does not even notice it. The stenosis greatly increases the risk of stroke, as this is where clots can develop. Warning signals are speech and vision disorders, paralysis and sensory disorders such as deafness. Therefore, carotid stenosis is not a safe disease.

Read our article on this: Clogged carotid artery (carotid stenosis)

After a blow to the neck or a traffic accident, one can too Carotid dissection occur. A dissection is one Separation of the vascular membranesso that a second membrane is created inside the artery. This can be done with Pain in the throat go hand in hand, the pain often extending into the shoulder radiates. Often there is also pain on the Back of the head described. Such a dissection can also occur when the chiropractor or physiotherapist “adjusts” the body. However, a dissection can also arise without memory trauma, especially in the case of congenital connective tissue weaknesses such as the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Since a clot can also form during a dissection, which obstructs the carotid artery, it exists Risk of stroke.

In which Carotid Sinus Syndrome reacts Carotid body, the pressure gauge on the carotid fork, hypersensitive to pressure, so there is a Pressure to a Slowing down of the heart rate or the pulse (Bradycardia) and one Drop in blood pressure (Hypotension) is coming. This can make it up to one Cardiac arrest come. The cause for this can be the Pressure of a tumor be in the neck area, pressure through arteriosclerotic changes or one Tiethat on the Carotid body presses. Rarely can one Head tilt backwards trigger the syndrome. However, the area around the carotid artery rarely hurts.


A dissection of the carotid artery is one of the most common triggers for one stroke at a younger age between 40 and 50 years of age.
Under one arterial vessel dissection one understands the Separation of two wall layers. Mostly it is a split of the innermost and middle layer with subsequent bleeding and unilateral pain.
In most cases, carotid dissection occurs spontaneously and appears to be related to a genetic predisposition. Accidents or medical interventions can also be the cause.
In around a 1% of cases arise Blood clots at the tear site and lead to a blockage of the vessels supplying the brain. Affected people show neurological abnormalities depending on the affected brain area and should be treated immediately in the stroke unit of a hospital.
Deposits on the vessel walls the carotid artery in the sense of a so-called Carotid stenosis can also be the cause. Brief neurological Failure symptoms, such as blurred vision or temporary paralysis, are considered Warning signs of a stroke to evaluate.

Figure pain in the carotid artery

Figure pain in the carotid artery

Carotid artery pain
(Cervical artery)

  1. Superficial temporal artery -
    Superficial temporal artery
  2. Facial artery -
    Facial artery
  3. Internal head artery -
    Internal carotid artery
  4. External head artery -
    External carotid artery
  5. Jugular vein -
    Jugular vein
  6. Cervical artery (carotid artery) -
    Common carotid artery
  7. Clavicle artery -
    Subclavian artery
  8. Healthy artery -
    normal blood flow
  9. arteriosclerosis
    (Vascular calcification) -
    Deposition of fats,
    Thrombus formation, blood flow
    highly limited
    A - headache
    B - ear pain
    C - jaw pain
    D - pain in the neck area

You can find an overview of all Dr-Gumpert images at: medical illustrations


At Muscle tension help physiotherapy exercises, Move- and Husbandry schools such as sporting activitiesto relieve the pain. In addition, good sitting posture and ergonomic workplaces should be ensured. At a acute pain event, for example after a sudden movement ("neck dislocation"), helps warmthto release the cramp.

The Carotid stenoses are almost always through arteriosclerosis, i.e. by calcification of the vessels. The more narrow the vessel is, the sooner one can stroke, or a harbinger of stroke, one Transient ischemic attack (TIA). In the transitory ischemic attack are all symptoms of a stroke possible (Visual disturbances, speech disorders, balance disorders, paralysis), these disappear but within a day again completely. The carotid stenosis must be in one severe degree of stenosis often on the carotid artery surgically treated become. There are two different surgical options available. In the Stent surgery a stent, i.e. a vascular support, is inserted into the narrowed segment, which in future will keep the vessel open at this point. In the Thrombendarterectomy, i.e. the thrombus removal, the arteriosclerosis or a clot is removed at this point. This surgery is slightly larger because the artery has to be cut open lengthways. There is some debate as to which method is better. A large study indicated the equivalence of both methods.

At Carotid dissections One is often enough therapeutically blood thinning therapy and control off.
In which Carotid Sinus Syndrome must occasionally depending on the degree of expression Pacemaker be built in to Fainting spells (Syncope) to prevent.


To make a diagnosis, the doctor may use the carotid artery palpate (scan) and with the stethoscope wiretap. At a Narrowing of the artery atherosclerosis or a clot can often cause a noise listen with the stethoscope. With the Ultrasound diagnostics a narrowing can be clearly demonstrated. The direction of blood flow can also be displayed. With a Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or one Magnetic resonance angiography the arteries can be precisely visualized and assessed.


The prognosis for a Carotid stenosis is good as she often asymptomatic run away. At higher grade stenoses should have a operative therapy thought about that Stroke risk to reduce. Especially after a transient ischemic attackthat is a harbinger of stroke should be one medical evaluation respectively. The prognosis at Carotid dissections is usually very cheap. By a anticoagulant therapy the dissection often regresses without creating a thrombus and thus a stroke.


To the To prevent carotid stenosis, it is recommended to Cholesterol content within normal values to keep. This can be done with a healthy balanced diet, if necessary low cholesterol nutrition and sufficient exercise accomplish. In addition, the Sugar content and the Blood pressure be kept at a healthy level as all of these parameters can contribute to the development of arteriosclerosis. To that Atherosclerosis risk should also mitigate little or no nicotine and alcohol be consumed.