A lump in the neck can be an incredibly frightening finding, especially if it occurs in the frontal side of the neck or near the spinal structures in the center dorsal neck.
Lumps can mean many things and it is never wise to assume the best or the worst. Instead, every unexplained lump should be evaluated by a qualified physician and biopsied, if necessary.
This article will examine various types of lumps, bumps and growths which may present themselves anywhere in the neck anatomy.
We will also provide a basic overview of what each type of lump might mean and how it should be managed.
Benign lumps come in a great diversity of conditions. Here are some of the most commonly found on the neck:
Cysts can form anywhere. Most cysts are sebaceous and are harmless, but may be unaesthetic. These are found just below the skin and usually do not require any treatment, although many patients choose to remove them surgically simply for cosmetic purposes. Spinal cysts rarely can be visualized, unless they are huge. Cysts which occur on neurological, glandular or vascular tissues might be problematic and should always be referred to a specialist.
Ingrown hairs and pimples might form lumps once they heal over. In these cases, time alone may diminish the swelling or the defect may have to be attended to by a dermatologist to fully resolve. Regardless, these are almost always nonissues and should not cause terrible concern.
Benign tumors can form anywhere in the body, including in the neck. Any significantly sized tumor may present a problem, since it may interfere with vital functions in the neck anatomy. This is especially true for tumors which reside near the throat or near the crucial vascular and neurological tissues, such as the carotid artery or vagus nerve.
Goiters involve swelling near the bottom throat, at the site of the thyroid gland. Most are not harmful, but some may require treatment and all should be evaluated to insure that the gland is still functioning normally. The majority are induced by a deficiency of the nutritional component iodine.
Here are the usual sources of malignant or troublesome lumps in the neck:
Throat, lymph node or mouth cancer can cause tumors to form in the neck. These are dire health issues and must be diagnosed and treated quickly in order to preserve life and functionality.
Thyroid gland concerns and other glandular dysfunction can cause neck swelling and lump formation. Some of these pathologies may be minor health issues, while others may be serious. All should be checked by your physician.
Tuberculosis can attack the lymph nodes, causing nodule and lump formation in the side of the neck.
Vascular problems can cause small hard nodules to form, as can some varieties of neurological tumors. Due to the sensitive locations of both of these growths, they might be concerning even when they turn out to be benign.
The neck also contains the spine and a wide range of muscles. Therefore, lumps which form in the rear or rear side of the neck might be related to these anatomical components.
As previously mentioned, most spinal cysts and tumors will not be visualized, since they reside deep in the body. However, this is not an absolute rule, since some large growths may be seen from outside the body.
Muscular tissue injuries, knots and growths are commonplace in the side of the neck. These may be idiopathic or caused from a specific incident, such as whiplash or a neck muscle trauma.
The relevance of these knots or lumps is very case specific and might range from none to greatly problematic. Some of these conditions may indicate a detached muscle, tendon or ligament, so all should be evaluated by a qualified musculoskeletal specialist.
To learn more about any neck, throat or spinal lump, please consult with your doctor. Do not neglect these issues, as they may turn out to be nothing at all, but then again, they may not.