Why is the Right Side of My Neck Throbbing?

It’s not uncommon to experience throat or neck pain, including a throbbing sensation on one side of the neck. While neck throbbing can sometimes indicate a serious health issue, more often it is caused by a minor condition that can be easily treated at home. Here are some of the most common causes of a throbbing sensation on the right side of the neck and what to do about it.

Muscle Strain

One of the most likely culprits behind neck throbbing is muscle strain, especially if you’ve been in an awkward position that placed excessive strain on the muscles. Sleeping in an odd angle, bending over a desk for too long, or even just holding your neck at a tilt while talking on the phone can overextend the sternocleidomastoid muscle that runs down both sides of the neck. This leads to inflammation and throbbing discomfort.

Fortunately, muscle strain tends to resolve on its own with rest, applying heat or ice to the area, and over-the-counter pain medication. Try to maintain good posture and avoid positions that overwork the neck. Gentle stretches and massage can also help relax the strained muscle. See a doctor if pain persists for more than a week.

Swollen Lymph Node

Lymph nodes filter infection-fighting cells through the body. When you have an illness or infection, lymph nodes may swell as they work harder to trap germs. This can cause throbbing or tenderness in the neck as the swollen node presses on muscles and nerves. Swollen nodes are most common under the jaw but can occur anywhere in the neck.

Swollen lymph nodes often go away once the infection runs its course. Warm compresses can encourage drainage and relieve swelling. Check with a doctor if nodes stay enlarged for longer than two weeks. This may indicate an underlying condition requiring treatment.

Thyroid Issues

An overactive thyroid gland can sometimes cause a throbbing sensation on one side of the neck. This is due to increased blood flow to the gland. Other hyperthyroidism symptoms include unexplained weight loss, rapid heartbeat, tremors, and feeling hot all the time. Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, can also potentially lead to neck throbbing although this is less common.

Thyroid conditions are best diagnosed and managed by an endocrinologist. Blood tests checking thyroid hormone levels along with an ultrasound of the gland can help pinpoint the issue. Treatment typically involves prescription thyroid medication.

Stress and Tension

Chronic stress and muscular tension in the neck and shoulders from poor posture can manifest as one-sided neck throbbing. This is actually the muscles spasming and tightening due to prolonged tension. Stress-related throbbing tends to come and go. You may notice it flaring up more at the end of a stressful day.

Relieving stress through yoga, meditation, massage, and other relaxation techniques can help reduce muscular tension. Improving posture and ergonomics for comfort at work and home are also beneficial. Rarely, doctors may prescribe muscle relaxants in severe cases. But lifestyle changes usually manage stress-related neck throbbing effectively.