Have you seen or noticed a lump on your neck? If we find in some part of our body an abnormal lump, 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 of what that bulge may be can come to mind.
When you detect a change in your body and, above all, if you are not clear about its origin or if it is a good thing or if it can 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 relevant tests, what type of lump you have and what needs to be done about it. However, if it is your case or that of someone you know, it is also good to inform yourself about the possible causes of this bulge. In we give you the answer to your question about “why do I have a lump in my neck?”, explaining the main causes and more details.
Why 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 nut, which is noticeable a lot in men and little in women, right at the base of the head, where there is a small lump 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 the height of the shoulders, because in these areas it is common to find some bulge.
If you have detected by touch or with the naked eye some type of bump on the neck, either on one side, front or back and you want to know why you have a lump on 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 no more, this being another reason why it is vital to visit the doctor.
- Swollen neck ganglia
- Nodule or cervical mass
- Lipoma in the benign or malignant neck
- Benign or malignant thyroid tumor
- Cervical hernia
If in addition to detecting a bump your neck hurts, because these causes do not always produce pain or discomfort, with more reason you will have to go to the specialist. However, we anticipate that of these causes, those that usually produce more pain are the inflammation of the nodes that can indicate infection and cervical herniation.
You may also have doubts about the lumps in the neck on the left or right side, if you have located one on the side, however the causes may be the same as discussed.
Another frequent question is how to know if a lump in the neck is bad, because it is what really worries. However, it should 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 the person who has a lump is a child, your child or another family member, and you are concerned, we recommend that you take them to the pediatrician so that they 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 nodes by some type of infection, mainly viral or bacterial, for example when they have the flu or a cold.
Why the nodes in your neck become inflamed
Most lumps in the neck are swollen or enlarged lymph nodes. To know if it is possible that the ball in the neck that you have detected is a swollen ganglion or not, it is best to feel it. A lump in the neck that moves when touched will not be an enlarged ganglion, 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 become swollen are:
- Swelling reaction from 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 ball in the neck that indicates it, but in a short time there will be more swollen lymph nodes and in more parts of the body.
- A cancer or neoplasm is also a cause of enlarged lymph nodes. Although a malignant tumor in the neck (whether or not it is noticeable when palpated or with the naked eye and that inflames the nodes) is more serious than the aforementioned causes, it is much less frequent.
In this other article we detail the Symptoms and treatment of swollen neck nodes.
What is a cervical nodule or mass
A nodule is a hardened, rounded and bulging mass of cells, which can be palpated or not and which may be pathological or normal. Thus, you may 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, being able to be congenital or occur during development in children, have occurred after trauma, be of inflammatory, infectious or tumor origin, either benign or malignant.
Some of the types of cervical nodules that exist are:
- Thyroid nodule
- Neurogenic tumor
- Carotid body tumor
- Thyroglossal duct cyst
- Gill 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 which is 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 fat cell tumors 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 their most common locations.
They usually have no symptoms, apart from the visibility or palpation of the ball itself in the neck and the fact that they normally grow a lot, so they take up space by squeezing other nearby tissues and organs and produce tightness in the skin. Although they can take away space, they are not dangerous for the other surrounding tissues and do not produce pain.
There is no specific cause, but there are factors that favor its appearance, such as genetics, irritants, people with hormonal problems, diabetics and, even, can appear after trauma.
To treat it, the most common thing is that the doctor removes the lipoma in the neck surgically, with a fairly simple intervention.
Aside from the word lipoma, you may have heard of liposarcoma, which can be both on the neck and elsewhere. It is a type of cancer that occurs in adipose or fatty tissue and can be benign or malignant, to varying degrees. Therefore, a lump of adipose tissue or fat cells can be a benign fat cyst or a malignant or benign tumor in the neck.
Lump in the neck from cyst or tumor in the thyroid
A ball in the neck can be in the thyroid if it is located in the front, just above the collarbone and 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 ball in the neck due to a thyroid problem are:
- The bulge itself in the neck, which can always be the same size or grow at a higher or lower speed.
- Neck pain.
- Swallowing problems.
- Shortness of breath.
- Persistent cough.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
In the case of a benign cyst in the thyroid, 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 herniated disc in the cervical is the rupture of the disc between the vertebrae. This rupture produces a bulge in the disc, which causes it to expand out of place, being able to be noticed from the outside when palpating it or in sight. In addition, this displacement can cause the vertebrae to be closer and the disc to wear out 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, in case there is pressure in the marrow, signs such as motor difficulties, being clumsier and numbness of some areas also appear.
In addition, there may be a lump in the neck that is noticeable or there may be a cervical hernia without a lump being easily noticed. Learn more about the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc in this other article.
Finally, now that you know more about why you have a lump in your neck, and in case you notice it on the back of it and it bothers your cervical area, you may also be interested in knowing this other article from on Why my neck hurts.