3Yr Old Complaining About Headache and Neck Pain

Updated on September 19, 2011
D.S. asks from San Bruno, CA
15 answers

Lately my son has been complaining about a headache and back/neck ache every time he goes to bed. At first I felt it was just an excuse to get out of bed. However each time I ask him (each night he complains about it) where it hurts, it is always in the same place (right side, near his right ear for the headache. Neck is near the shoulders where the head meets). He clearly gets upset and cries when he is complaining about the headache.

Tonight (9.17.2011) he complained about it all again. These complaints of my son being in pain has really got me concerned and I will obviously be calling his Dr. on Monday. I am wondering too if his headache tonight is caused from his traumatic crying he had from getting his stuff dog taken away...but the other times he wasn't crying.

I did some research online and was a bit shocked to see so many other mothers concerns were about the same thing. Headaches in the same spot (above the right ear). They did countless blood work, MRI, neurologists, specialists, all of them stating they found nothing and most of their doctors never heard of these complaints or pain before. This brings me to believe these similar issues as what I am experiencing are possible linked to something we all have in common??? Maybe?

Anyone else dealing with the same issue(s)? What have you done to solve the problem? What tests have you had done? What is your child eating? Vaccinated? Is this typical developmental issue for a 3yr old???


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answers from Eugene on

Take him to a chiropractor or an osteopath. Most likely one of the cervical vertebras are out of alignment.
Why would you take away his comfort toy? He's really very young to have to give it up.

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answers from Tulsa on

Headache and neck pain can be signs of meningitis, is he having fevers or any other symptoms? I'd call the doctor or nurse line just to be safe ASAP. It could also be earaches or sinus pain being localized to that one spot. Is it just when he lays down? That can increase sinus pressure and lead to pain in the back of the head. Try giving him an extra pillow to sleep on, if he's been crying that can just exacerbate the problem. Hope you figure it out soon and your little guy feels better!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I my be totally off, and I don't know if this could be happening with a 3 year-old, but this happened to me once. I don't ever get headaches, and then I did for several days in a row, just like you describe. After several days of this, I luckily found a doctor who quickly identified that I had a knot in my lower neck that was giving me the headaches. He prescribed a massage, swimming (to get my arms moving over my head and loosen the muscles), and one dose of a muscle relaxer. The headache was gone and didn't come back.

Can you gently rub your son's neck and shoulders and see if you can pinpoint a spot that hurts him or is tight? Children have stress reactions, too.

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answers from Redding on

Not to scare you or anything but please have him looked at. My little sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 9, and it all started with headaches and neck pain. It actually took quite awhile for them to pin point it. An eye doctor was the one that saw the tumor when he examined her eyes. The tumor was clogging the spinal fluid and that was why her neck was stiff and painful. Please have him looked at for your own piece of mind.
Chances are it's nothing and just his way of getting a little extra attention at bedtime.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Do not wait until Monday to have him seen. These symptoms could also be meningitis, which left untreated, can be *fatal* within days of contracting it. Especially in young children.

I do not want to alarm, but this is a real concern and possibility with the symptoms you describe (Meningitis symptoms include severe headache, stiff neck, light sensitivity, and sometimes but not always present -fever, nausea, and flu like symptoms)

The only way to confirm is through blood tests and sometimes a spinal tap. Time is of the essence if this is indeed meningitis. There are two variations, a bacterial and a viral version. The bacterial is the more serious and can be untreatable in a matter of days if ignored. The only way to know if this is just a very bad headache or something worse is to get him to the ER for tests. These symptoms are too serious to be ignored...get checked ASAP!



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answers from Fayetteville on

When you have a headache, DO NOT LIE FLAT!! Thus increases intercranial pressure and will make it worse. This may be why he cries when going to bed. He may have an infection. Ear.. Tooth.. Try some ibuprofen. You can also try a warm pack to affected area. Let us know how he does.

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answers from Chicago on

Hopefully it is nothing severe but I had the same thought as Amy M. Call the emergency care line to be safe.

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answers from Omaha on

I always call my doctor's office or after hours hotline with any question or concern I have. There is no such thing as a dumb question and they can always ease my mind and/or tell me the best course of action to take. I hope he ok and it is nothing severe! Does he sleep with a pillow? Sometimes I will wake up with terrible head and neck pain in the area you describe if I have slept on a fluffy pillow or have slept on my side or stomach and my neck is all twisted. Good luck and God Bless! I will say a prayer for him!

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answers from Missoula on

I would first take him to a chiropractor. No need to put him through tests if all is wrong is he needs an adjustment. His pain sounds exactly like mine. I have a spot on my left side of my neck right under my ear. It's called the C2 and I would usually get horrible headaches and I would cry. I've been seeing a chiropractor for a long time now and my pain is gone. You should really get him in asap! Find one that can treat subluxations.

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answers from San Francisco on

I would suggest you start with a Strep Throat Test. Those are the same symptoms (no sore throat at all) my 5 year old daughter has been complaining about. I brushed it off for several days then she woke up in the middle of the night with a high fever, took her to the doctors and he did the throat culture and she had strep. A few days after we started antibiotics they symptoms went away.

I hope it is just something simple like that



answers from San Francisco on

Take him to an accupuncturist. They might know what it is.



answers from Detroit on

Why wait until Monday? Call the 24 hour line and see what is the response of the doctor on call and then go to urgent care if he is requested to be seen. The first things that came to my mind were ear infection or meningitis, both of which deserve a response from a doctor.



answers from Milwaukee on

He may just need an adjustment. My son can get WAY out of wack by just being a boy. He LOVES going to the chiro for adjustments. The doctor says with all the running around, jumping and falling they do it's easy to get out of alingment.



answers from San Francisco on

A tooth issue is possible. When my son was this age, he frequently complained of pain near his right ear, but he did not have an ear infection. His 2 year molars had already erupted on the left side, but no sign on his right. Dental exrays showed that the upper right molar was blocked by a plate of bone. He had oral surgery to drill out the bone plate. No more pain! The molar eventually descended, but he has no adult tooth behind the molar, and he really hates dentists.



answers from San Francisco on

Yikes, anything like this would make me worry too. I don't have anything to offer but the answers below are all great suggestions. I can't help but think of my 3 year old when I read this. I really hope you get the answers and the help you are looking for from medical professionals soon. Good luck and God bless.

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