Have you seen or noticed a lump in your neck? If we find an abnormal lump somewhere in our body, for example one in the lump and we are clear that it is not the nut, it is totally normal to be alerted, because it is a physical change and various ideas can come to mind what could that bulge be?
When you detect a change in your body and, above all, if you are not clear about its origin or if it is something good or if it could be bad, the first thing you have to think about is talking to your trusted doctor. Only the specialist can indicate, after an examination and the pertinent tests, what type of lump you have and what needs to be done about it.
Why do I have a lump in my neck – main causes
The most normal thing is that you do not notice any type of bulge in the neck , neither with the naked eye nor when passing your fingers gently through the area, except if it is just the part of the apple, which is very noticeable in men and little in men. women, right at the base of the head, where there is a small bump that is the base of the skull, or if it is right in the part where the dorsal vertebrae begin and the cervical ones end, at shoulder height, because in these areas it is common to find some bulge.
If you have detected by touch or with the naked eye some kind of lump in your neck, either on one side, front or back, and you want to know why you have a lump in your neck, take note of the following lines. These are the main causes of abnormal lumps in the neck , which does not mean that there are not more, this being another reason why it is vital to visit the doctor.
- swollen neck glands
- Cervical nodule or mass
- Benign or malignant neck lipoma
- Benign or malignant thyroid tumor
- Cervical hernia
If, in addition to detecting a lump , your neck hurts , because these causes do not always cause pain or discomfort, all the more reason you will have to go to the specialist. However, we anticipate that of these causes, the ones that usually cause more pain are swollen glands that can indicate infection and cervical hernia.
You may also have doubts about the lumps in the neck on the left or right side, if you have located one on one side, however the causes may be the same as those mentioned.
Another frequent question is how to know if a lump in the neck is bad , because that is what really worries us. However, it must be borne in mind that the final answer is only available to a specialist doctor after having carried out the relevant tests and analyses.
If it is a child, your son or another family member who has a lump, and you are concerned, we recommend that you take him to the pediatrician so that he can make the diagnosis and help you. The most common thing when it comes to lumps in the neck in children is that they are swollen glands due to some type of infection, mainly viral or bacterial, for example when they have the flu or a cold.
Why do neck glands swell?
Most lumps in the neck are swollen or enlarged lymph nodes.
To find out if it is possible that the lump in the neck that you have detected is a swollen node or not, it is best to feel it. A lump in the neck that moves when touched will not be an enlarged lymph node, since they are only mobile when they are in a normal state and, on the other hand, when they become inflamed they enlarge, become more fixed and even harden.
Swollen lymph nodes in any part of the body indicate that there is an overexertion on the part of the body to fight against a foreign agent, being a defense mechanism such as fever. The most common reasons why the lymph nodes in the neck are swollen are:
- Swelling reaction due to an infection near the neck area or in the neck itself. For example, it can be a cold, upper respiratory infection, or even an oral infection.
- A bacterial infection in the swollen lymph node itself, or lymphadenitis.
- A generalized or systemic infection, in which case there may be a lump in the neck to indicate this, but before long there will be more swollen lymph nodes and in more parts of the body.
- A cancer or a neoplasm is also a reason for an increase in the lymph nodes. Although a malignant tumor in the neck (noticable or not by palpation or with the naked eye and that swells the lymph nodes) is more serious than the aforementioned causes, it is much less frequent.
What is a cervical nodule or mass?
A nodule is a round, bulging, hardened mass of cells that may or may not be palpable and may be pathologic or normal. Thus, you can suspect a nodule in the neck or cervical nodule if the lump you have discovered is hard.
Such a mass can be of different types depending on its nature or origin, and can be congenital or occur during development in children, have occurred after trauma, be of inflammatory, infectious or tumor origin, be it benign or malignant.
Some of the types of cervical nodules that exist are:
- Thyroid nodule
- neurogenic tumor
- carotid body tumor
- Thyroglossal duct cyst
- branchial cyst
- Sebaceous and epidermal cyst
- cervical abscess
Depending on the origin of the cervical nodule and various other factors, the doctor will have to indicate the best treatment procedure in each case. Next, we talk about two of the most common: the lipoma and the thyroid nodule (cyst or tumor).
What is a lipoma on the neck and how to treat it
Lipomas are tumors of fat cells and are benign , in fact they are the most common connective tissue tumors and very rarely become malignant. They can be found almost anywhere on the body, but the neck is one of the most common locations.
They usually do not present symptoms, apart from the visibility or palpation of the lump itself in the neck and the fact that they usually grow a lot, occupying space by squeezing other nearby tissues and organs and causing tightness in the skin. Although they can take up space, they are not dangerous for the other tissues around them and they do not cause pain.
There is no specific cause, but there are factors that favor its appearance, such as genetics, irritating agents, people with hormonal problems, diabetics, and they can even appear after trauma.
To treat it, the most common is for the doctor to surgically remove the lipoma in the neck , with a fairly simple intervention.
Apart from the word lipoma, you may have heard of liposarcoma , which can be in the neck as well as elsewhere. It is a type of cancer that occurs in adipose or fatty tissue and that can be benign or malignant, to different degrees. Therefore, a lump of adipose tissue or fat cells can be a benign fat cyst or a benign or malignant neck tumor.
Lump in the neck due to a thyroid cyst or tumor
A ball in the neck can be in the thyroid if it is located in the front, just above the clavicle and the sternum, which is the place where this gland is, having two lobes, one on each side of the trachea. Among the main symptoms of a lump in the neck due to a thyroid problem, the following stand out:
- The bulge in the neck itself, which can always be the same size or grow at a greater or lesser rate.
- Pain in the neck.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Respiratory difficulty.
- persistent cough
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
In the case of a benign thyroid cyst, pain is not always present, but it is more frequent when it comes to a cancerous tumor in this gland.
A bulge or enlargement of the thyroid gland can also be due to goiter, which is a hypertrophy of the thyroid gland. Goiter , in fact, is more common than benign or cancerous or malignant cysts or tumors.
What is a cervical hernia and how to treat it
A cervical herniated disc is a ruptured disc between the vertebrae. This rupture produces a bulge in the disc, which causes it to expand out of its place, being able to be noticed from the outside when palpated or visually. In addition, this displacement can cause the vertebrae to be closer together and the disc to wear more, as well as compression of the spinal cord.
At first it may be asymptomatic, but as it worsens various signs appear. The main symptoms of a cervical hernia are pain, muscle stiffness and, if there is pressure on the spinal cord, signs such as motor difficulties, being more clumsy and numbness in some areas also appear.
In addition, there may be a lump in the neck that is noticeable or there may be a cervical herniation without a lump being easily noticed. Learn more about the Symptoms of a herniated disc in this other article.