A lump on the back of neck

Do you have a lump at the back of your neck? Does it concern you a lot? A lump at the back of the neck is extremely common, however most of these lumps or swellings are not dangerous and can be treated surgically for cosmetic purposes. Most of these swellings can be diagnosed by a doctor(Doktor) without any investigations while some suspicious swellings need a skin biopsy. In this article, we will tell you about types of swellings at the back and what could be the possible causes of these lumps.

  1. Sebaceous cyst

If you magnify your skin, there are numerous sebaceous glands at the dermis of our skin. These glands are responsible to produce sebum to lubricate your skin which also makes your skin oily at times. A blocked or damaged form of this sebaceous gland will form a swelling at the back of the neck commonly.

Usually, these swelling will be diagnosed by doctors without further assessments. However, certain swellings, especially in doubt of the diagnosis, further investigations such as skin biopsy will be conducted. Other indications for a skin biopsy is when the swelling is infected, grows rapidly or bulky in size.

While sebaceous cyst are benign, a bulky sebaceous cyst is commonly surgically removed for cosmetic purposes.

  1. Lipoma

Lipoma is a benign form of fat tissues located at the dermis level. They are very common in middle age groups. They tend to grow anywhere on your body where there are fats, however it is more common at the back of your neck, shoulders, abdomen or thighs. They are very mobile, soft, small in size and might compress on adjacent structures causing damages to blood vessels and nerves.

Lipomas are diagnosed by doing a skin biopsy and benign swellings are usually left without removing, unless if it is bulky in nature which has a small chance to transform into a malignant and dangerous one.

  1. Swelling of cervical lymph nodes

Cervical lymph nodes are divided according to their location at the neck, The nodes at the back are called posterior cervical lymph nodes mainly from the occipital and posterior jugular chain groups. There are several factors that can cause swollen lymph nodes namely as below;

  • Ear infections
  • Throat infections by streptococcus
  • Skin wounds
  • HIV
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Malignancy

The possible causes of swollen nodes can be identified from the nature of the swelling. Swelling originated from infections are red and painful associated with fever, runny nose and sore throat. Nodes which are immobile and hard will raise suspicion of malignancy and require further work-up by doctors.

Swollen nodes from infections are treated with antibiotics if they are caused by bacteria, while nodes that do not regress upon monitoring and treatment with antibiotics should be evaluated further.

  1. Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a type of lymphatic system cancer that starts with the enlargement of lymph nodes.  Lymphoma can be categorized into Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma according to the histology analysis. Other symptoms of lymphoma include night sweats, intermittent fever, lethargy and loss of weight.

Lymphoma can only be diagnosed with an excisional biopsy of the swelling. Treatment modalities of lymphoma includes chemotherapy and radiotherapy based on the sensitivity of the cancer to these treatments

  1. Skin lumps

These are generally the other causes of swelling at the back of the neck

  • Moles
  • Warts
  • Corns
  • Acne
  • Trauma
  • Allergic reactions
  • Abscess or carbuncles
  • Boils

           These lumps can be diagnosed based on the nature of the swelling such as colour,

           shape, consistency, duration and onset. Discuss these abnormal skin lumps with your

           doctor and your doctor will take a further history and some assessments to diagnose

           a lump. Most lumps that does not get away by its own, would most probably requires

           a surgery. So, keep getting health screening till you get fully assured.

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