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Headache due to heavy drinking, stress, swelling in the back of neck. Taken aspirin and vicadine. What can this be?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2005
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Two weeks ago I drank way too much and have had a headache in the back of my neck eversince. I have blown it off as a tension headache because I am relocating for my job and am under alot of stress at the moment. The headache ranges from almost nonexistant to migrane level hell, the pain is most severe during an erection. Also I just noticed some swelling in the back of my neck around the area of pain. I have used over the counter asperin and even vicadine with mixed results.
Posted Mon, 21 May 2012 in Headache and Migraines
Answered by Dr. Prasad 13 hours later


Thanks for the query.

Persistent pain in the back of the neck with swelling is concerning. It would have been better if you had provided some more additional details such as:
- Is the swelling localized or diffuse?
- Do you notice any surface changes such as warmth, redness, tenderness on the swelling?
- Does movement of the neck aggravate the pain?
- Is the pain localized to the neck or radiating above, to the arms/fingers?
- Do you have nausea, vomiting, fever?
- Is this the first instant or have you similar symptoms in the past?

I will be able to understand and analyse your symptoms better if you could provide me with the above details.

Awaiting your response

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Headache due to heavy drinking, stress, swelling in the back of neck. Taken aspirin and vicadine. What can this be? 8 hours later
Thanks for reply Dr. XXXXXXX
The swelling is localized right were the skull ends and the pain runs the length of my neck.
No surface changes in my neck or the swelling at all. The swelling is actually just below the pain and skull line.
Movement of my neck relieves the discomfort
The pain is only in the back of my head, my neck is stiff like my muscles are sore
No nausea, vomiting or fever, I am able to function everyday with no problem. Just a dull pain headache. The pain is a constant 1 of 10, and spikes to a 6 after sex for half the day.
Never had anything like this before.
Answered by Dr. Prasad 6 hours later


Thanks for providing the necessary details.

Based on these details provided, it is difficult to explain all your symptoms to a single pathology. Let me make myself clear.

The described symptoms could be due to
1. Chronic headache - Stress and tension being the common cause. Further in some individuals sexual arousal can precipitate such headaches.
2. Cervical muscular ache.

Both these condition could be co-existing and causing your symptoms. A good analgesic like Ibuprofen 400 mg can take care of both these condition and help you in pain relief. My suggestions to you would be to try this tablet (available over the counter) twice a day after food for 3-5 days. Use soft pillows to the neck. Rest adequately and avoid physical strain.
In addition the same medication can be taken few hours before sexual intercourse.

Eat regularly and avoid fasting. Be regular with your sleep. Practice yoga, transcendental meditation to combat stress.

Lastly if the symptoms are troubling you a lot, do consult your physician for detailed evaluation - battery of blood test, Xray, Computed tomography (CT) / Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan might be needed.

Hope I have addressed your concern. Let me know if you need any more help.
If you are convinced with my response and have no further follow ups, please close this discussion and review it.

Wish you good health.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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