Lump On Back of Neck Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, Big, Small, Hard, Pea Sized Bump, Won’t Go Away Treatment

A Lump on back of neck is common and the cause is usually benign. Is a bump on neck painful, hard, small or tender to touch? Nodules or mass on neck may be the onset of a more serious health condition such as cancer, chronic infection or diabetes. In this post we will discuss the meaning of a bump on neck, symptoms and how to diagnose.

Bumps can appear on various parts of the neck including the sides, in and on back of neck. A lump that appear in the neck is also referred to as a neck mass. The bumps can be large and noticeable or sometimes small and tender to touch. Depending on the cause, the nodules on neck can appear on back of neck right hand side near your hairline. You may feel a movable nodule that can be painful or sometimes painless.

Lump on Back of Neck Under Skin Surface
Lump on Back of Neck Under Skin Surface

What does a lump on back of neck mean?

If you are having mass on back of neck, you are probably wondering what that could be. Most neck bumps are benign meaning they are noncancerous and therefore do not pose any harm to your health. It could be deposits of fats as a result of adding weight or mere infection. However, a neck bump can also be a sign of serious underlying health condition.

Bump on back of neck picture

How does a bump on back of neck looks like? A bumpy neck or neck mass will have either a small or big lump behind your neck. Depending on the cause, the nodule can be hard or tender when touched. To help your understand, we have inserted pictures below that can help you identify well with your symptoms.

Lump on Back of Neck Picture
Lump on Back of Neck Picture

The images and photos in the post will help you to find the correct diagnosis for neck mass. Sometimes the bumps on neck are mere boils which can be treated with home remedies.

Neck lump symptoms

What are the symptoms of a swelling on back of neck? A lump in neck can be caused by a variety of conditions and diseases, there can be more related symptoms. Some people will have no symptoms. Others will have symptoms related to the underlying medical condition causing the lump on back of neck. The following are some of the symptoms:

  • A rash on the neck, the lump becomes red
  • A pus or smelly discharge from the lump as a result of bacterial infection
  • A movable swelling, tender to touch
  • Itchiness on swelling on back of neck
  • Change of the skin around the bump especially if the cause is cancer.
  • Neck pain

What are the cause of lump on back of neck?

If you have a bump under the skin on back of neck you shouldn’t be worried. The neck lump on either side of the neck commonly swell when you have a cold or sore throat. However, more serious infections may cause glands on back of your neck to swell become firm and tender. Neck mass can also be associated with serious underlying medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, mono among others. Below we have a discussion on the possible causes of bump on back of neck.

1. Lump on back of neck cancer

Is the knot on back of neck a sign of neck or thyroid cancer? What does it mean if you find a lump on back of your neck? The possible cause of lump on back of your neck could be a cancer of the neck and throat. As pointed earlier, most lumps in neck are benign. However, cancer is also a possible cause for swelling on back of your neck.

Studies shows that for adults, the chance that a bump on neck is cancerous increases as one advances in age. According to Cleveland Clinic, after the age of 50, the risk of having a neck mass that is cancerous is high. This can be attributed to lifestyle choices such as heavy smoking of tobacco and consumption of alcohol.

Alcohol use and tobacco are categorized as the two great risk factors for cancer in mouth, throat and neck.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is also another risk factor for cancer affecting your neck, throat and mouth. This infection is commonly transmitted sexually. According to American Cancer Society, the signs of HPV infection are found in two-thirds of all cases of neck and throat cancers.

Lump on back of neck could be a sign of cancer on various parts of the body including:

  • Leukemia
  • Cancer of the head and neck tissues
  • Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Other types of cancer such as lung, skin breast and throat cancer.

If you have a neck bump, visit your doctor right away to have the bump evaluated promptly.

2. Lump on back of neck HIV

A bump on back of neck could be an indication of viruses such as HIV. If you have a nodule on back of your neck, it could be the onset of HIV infection. If you are a patient recently infected with HIV you may notice neck mass. About 2 to 4 weeks of after acquiring the virus, you may develop flu like symptoms, including headache, fever, muscle pain and sore throat.

HIV is characterized by skin rash especially during the acute phase of infection. The rash are characterized by red, small bumps under the skin surface. This can be confused with allergic reaction and you should therefore contact a physician for medical examination.

3. Could it be diabetes?

A neck lump could be related to diabetes. People with skin problems are commonly linked to diabetes. Itchy bump on back of neck can be attributed to many causes such as skin, poor flow of blood or underlying condition such as diabetes. There is a close relationship between diabetes and sebaceous cyst.

A lump on back of neck could be sebaceous cyst. Neck lumps are closely related to diabetes. If your family has a history of diabetes coupled with a bumpy neck, then one has the risk of suffering from the condition.

4. Bacterial infection

A bacterial infection is one of the risk cause for neck and throat problems. Such infection always lead to inflammation and a swelling on back of neck. These infection can be treated with prescription of antibiotics. Infection of bacteria can cause strep throat leading swollen lymph nodes and glands.

If you have bacterial infection affecting your tonsils, you will end up with tonsillitis. The signs include enlarged glands. Treatment of a lump on back of neck, will require you treat infection in your throat, mouth and neck.

Infection in the ear and sinus are also the common underlying causes of neck lumps. Visit your physician for medical examination or treatment if necessary.

5. Damage or injury of a neck muscle

A swollen bump on back of neck can be caused by physical injury of the neck muscle or tendon. If the muscle of the neck are damaged or injured, the part of the muscle that is injured will stick out forming a bump. Injured neck muscle or tendon cause sharp pain when moving the head.

6. Big Hard lump on back of neck tumor

A swelling on back of neck that appear as a bump could be caused by tumor. If you have a painless bump on back of neck, this can be caused by tumor. The bump arises from abnormal growth of tissues whether benign or malignant. The unusual growth of tissues around the neck muscles can cause you to a big hard lump on back.

Big Hard Lump on Back of Neck
Big Hard Lump on Back of Neck

Treatment of tumor on back of neck depends on the location. Tumor tests and imaging are usually used to locate of the tumor in neck. Diagnosis is also specific to the where the tumor is and the type. Benign tumor are painless and are sometimes ignored. Sometimes the big hard lump can be reduced in size or removed entirely via surgery.

Cancerous tumors can be treated by various options including chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.

7. Infectious mononucleosis on neck

The bump on your neck could be caused by mono: a group of symptoms caused by Epstein – Barr virus (EBV). Although the condition typically occur in teenagers, you can get it any age. The virus is spread through oral sex primarily body fluids such as saliva. The symptoms of mono include:

  • Swollen lymph glands in the neck and armpits
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Muscle weakness
  • Night sweats
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Sore throat

Mono can be hard to distinguish from other common viruses such as flu.  If your symptoms do not improve after one or two weeks, visit your physician to have the condition medically examine and treated.

8. Painless lump in neck Lipoma

A lump in and behind the neck sometimes found on the right hand side near the hairline can be lipoma. A lipoma is typically a harmless fat deposit found under the skin surface. You are likely to see the bump on the neck, back or shoulders. Lipoma is characteristically soft and isn’t painless. It is actually easy to diagnose lipoma than any other skin problems.

A lipoma is basically a growth of fatty tissue that develop under the skin surface. Although lipoma can affect people of any age, infant and children rarely develop them. Lipoma are categorized as benign growth or tumor of fatty tissue. This means, if you have lipoma you shouldn’t be worried they are not cancerous or harmful to your health.

What are the symptoms of lipoma? Lipoma is distinct from other skin tumors. Generally, the following are the symptoms:

  • Soft and tender to touch
  • Move easily when if you prod with your finger]
  • Pale
  • Colorless
  • Grow slowly

Although lipomas are generally painless, they tend to be painful if it grows into the nerves under the skin. You should call your physician if you notice any changes in your skin. Lipomas can be similar to a cancerous condition called liposarcoma.

Generally, lipoma if left alone usually doesn’t cause any problem. However, if the lump on back of neck lipoma bothers you, you may have it removed by your dermatologist.

9. Painless Lump on back of neck weight gain

The bump on back of neck can be caused by increase in weight. Abnormal weight gain can cause a bump on back of your neck. The lump on back of neck as a result of weight gain is always painless and doesn’t have any harmful effect on your health. The bump occur as a result of fat deposit on various parts of your body including the neck.

Hard Lump near right hand side of the hairline, comes and goes, won’t go away, for years

A lump on the back of neck located at the bottom of the skull near the right hand side of the hairline that comes and goes after 1, 2 or 3 years can be worrying. Hard lump on back of neck that won’t go away could be due to lot of causes like sebaceous cyst, lipoma etc. it requires physical and medical examination to make correct diagnosis.

Lump on Back of Neck Left Side Near the Hair Line
Lump on Back of Neck Left Side Near the Hair Line

A hard lump can be due to abnormal growth pf tissue behind the neck. This growth or tumor can be painless depending whether it’s malignant or benign. Only medical examination can ascertain the caused.

Pea sized Lump on back of neck infant

An unexplained pea sized bump on back of neck of an infant is worrying for parents. It could be a cyst or neck boil. Infant can get what we call Occipital Lymph node at the base of their skull where it meets the neck. The lump will get firm and movable if her body is fighting an infection in the neck. A fixed nodule on back of neck of a baby would more concerning. You should visit a pediatrician for physical and medical examination.

Small Lump on Back of Neck
Small Lump on Back of Neck

How Is a Neck Lump Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of a neck mass will be based on your symptoms, history and the outcome of the physical exam. If the cause of the swelling behind the neck is caused by infection in the ear, nose and throat, your doctor will may refer you to an ENT. In most cases, the ENT specialist may perform an oto-rhino-laryngoscopy.

The procedure involves using a lighted instrument to see areas of your ears, nose and throat that are not clearly visible. The procedure is safe and doesn’t necessarily require anesthesia. This simply means you’ll be awake throughout the entire procedure.

Your physician and any other specialist may be required to run a series of test to determine the cause of lump on back of neck. A complete blood count (CBC) can be done to determine your general health. This is to provide insight to a number of possible underlying medical conditions. For instance, the level of white blood cells can be used to check if you have an infection.

Other possible tests that are done to help the diagnosis of neck lump include:

  • MRI of the neck and head. This will give detailed images of the structure in your head and neck
  • Ultrasound of the neck
  • Sinus X-rays.

How to Treat a Neck Lump

Treatment for a lump on back of neck depends on the underlying cause. For instance, if the lump behind your neck is caused by infection of bacteria, antibiotics will get rid of the infection.  If the cause is believed to be tumor, then a variety of treatment options will be used. However, this will depend if the tumor is benign or malignant.  Treatment will range from surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

If you detect a bump behind the neck, go for early medical examination. Most cancer of the neck and head can be cured if they are detected early enough. According to American Academy of Otolaryngology, early detection is the key to treat the underlying cause successfully.

Big Bump on Back of Neck Video

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