There are two large carotid arteries in the human body. These two blood vessels carry the oxygenated blood to the front of the brain. The pulse of the carotid arteries can be felt on the both sides of the neck. Every part of the human body can be affected by some disease, and so the carotid arteries as well. Because of various medical conditions, they may become weak and cannot function normally. Sometimes, they can be very painful. Usually, this pain occurs along the side of the neck or face. Medical treatment is necessary if the pain is persistent and long lasting. Otherwise, if it is untreated, it can lead to the serious complications.
Painful carotid arteries
There are three medical conditions that are responsible for the appearance of the pain. These conditions are carotid artery disease, arteriosclerosis, and carotidynia. Carotid artery disease is a disorder of carotid arteries that appears as the result of the narrowing of the arteries, which occurs because fatty plaque and cholesterol accumulate along the inside walls of the arteries, thus causing the blood circulation very difficult. In that case, the person with this problem may have a stroke, because the brain is not supplied with enough amount of blood. This type of carotid artery disorder usually occurs because of the poor diet, high blood pressure or diabetes. Carotid artery disease can be inherited and people who smoke are at risk to develop this condition.
Arteriosclerosis is the medical term for the disorder featured by the hardening and thickening of the walls of the arteries. Arteriosclerosis can affect every artery in the human body and carotid arteries as well. This disease leads to the losing of the elasticity of carotid arteries and consequently, they are not able to carry enough amounts of oxygenated blood to the brain. The causes for arteriosclerosis are not determined yet.
The third medical condition that causes the painful carotid arteries is known under the name carotidynia, which is characterized by the dilating or swelling of the arteries on one or both sides. There are three types of carotidynia, classic carotidynia, migrainous carotidynia and arteriosclerotic carotidynia, and all the three of them are accompanied with pain or tenderness that can be felt in the neck or face, as well as in the ear or head. The pain in carotid arteries may be worsened by the chewing or swallowing. The main cause for this condition is not established.
Treatment of painful carotid arteries
In the case of arteriosclerosis or carotid artery disease, anticoagulant medications are prescribed if the blockage is less than 50 percent. If the blockage is greater, a surgery is necessary. In the case of carotidynia, the doctors usually prescribe some anti-inflammatory drugs.