Lump on Back of Neck and Head – Causes and Treatment



Lumps on the Back – What are they?

According to research, the reported cases of patients having lumps on the back are very minimal. In fact, this condition is very rare. Most often, the cases reported are not of a serious nature. At times, if find a lump is present, within days it can disappear without any medical interventions. Hence, you need not be alarmed. However, there are also painful or discolored lumps that don’t disappear quickly and may persist over a longer period. You need to let a physician evaluate such a lump as soon as possible in order to determine the reason behind it.

Lump on Back pictures

Picture 1 – Lump on Back

Lumps on the Back, Causes

Lumps on the back can either be found on the neck or head. There are various etiologies, or reasons, why they might occur. There are two primary reasons why there are lumps on the neck: due to swollen lymph nodes and salivary gland enlargement.

Swollen Lymph Node. These lumps on the neck might be due to bacteria, cancer, thyroid, and viral or allergic reactions.

Salivary Gland Enlargement. This may be caused by infections such as mumps, salivary gland tumors and stones in the salivary duct.

1. Lumps may be bacterial in origin, which may be due to:

  • Atypical Mycobacterium. This is a type of bacteria that also affects HIV patients who have a CD4 count of 50 or less. When this kind of bacteria shows positive in a person, it can manifest swelling and painless lymph nodes in the neck area.
  • Cat Scratch Disease. This is caused when a cat has scratched a person. After being scratched by a cat, within three to five days, the signs may appear. One sign is the development of a red bump. It will later progress into non-itching papules and will then turn into crust after three days, and will eventually heal with a scar. Three to four weeks after being scratched, the person may manifest solitary lymphadenopathy (having enlarged lymph nodes). This will be painful but can be resolved within four months.
  • Pharyngitis. This is an inflammation of the pharynx or the tonsils. It is a viral and self limiting disease. If it becomes severe, it may lead to having tender lymph node enlargement on both sides of the neck.
  • Peritonsillar Abcess or Strep Throat. This is an extension of the infection of the tonsils which is beyond the capsule. It also involves abscess formation which is located behind or above the tonsil region. It can cause swelling or lumps in the neck which are tender to touch.
  • Tuberculosis. This condition usually affects the lungs. Systemically, tuberculosis can affect any part of the human body. If this condition is present in the nodes of the neck, it will result in a large lump having an irregular margin.
  • Tonsillitis. This is an infection of one or both the tonsils. It manifests as swelling or a lump in the neck area.

2. Lumps may be due to cancer, such as:

  • Hodgkin’s and Non- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. These are known tumors of the immune system. Both conditions share similar symptoms, which are swelling or lumps found in the neck. The neck has a region where lymph nodes can be found and when these lymph nodes are infected, they enlarge and cause lumps or swelling in the neck.
  • Leukemia. This condition causes the white blood cells to increase in number, which may lead to inflammation. One of the signs of inflammation is having lumps or swelling in areas of the body, such as in the neck region.
  • Mouth Cancer. Oral or mouth cancer is a tumor located in the mouth. Once the tumor progresses, it manifests sores or lumps in the neck area, especially if it is in an advanced state.

3. Lumps may also be due to thyroid problems, such as:

  • Thyroid Cancer. This is abnormal thyroid tissue with uncontrollable proliferation and has a tendency to invade the lymph nodes that are found in the neck, causing lumps which are non-tender and hard.
  • Goiter. This is the enlargement of the thyroid gland and can manifest in lumps or swelling of the neck region.
  • Grave’s Disease. This condition is similar to Goiter. It is an autoimmune condition and is primarily due to over activity of the thyroid gland.

4. Lumps may be viral in origin, associated with:


  • AIDS. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is the final and last stage of HIV disorder. This targets and damages the immune system. Since it damages the immune system, it leads to inflammation, which can manifest itself as swelling of the lymph gland and lumps on the neck.
  • HIV disease. This is a condition that is primarily caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus damages the immune system, which makes it harder for the body to fight opportunistic infections. It can lead to swelling or lumps on the neck.
  • Infectious Mononucleosis. This condition is caused by a member of the herpes virus family. It leads to the manifestation of swollen lymph nodes and lumps on the neck.

5. Lumps may also be due to allergic reactions

Allergic reactions target the inflammatory process which leads to swelling or lumps on the neck.

Lumps on the Back of the Head, Causes

In some instances, it is difficult to tell that you have a lump on the back of your head. The lump(s) on the back of your head may be due to the following:

Lump on back of head

Picture 2 – Lump on back of head

Dermatitis. It is when the skin of the scalp found in the head becomes inflamed and itchy. It can then lead to weeping of fluid that when it dries, it will form in to crust leading to lumps in the head.

Skin Cancer. Some of the skin cancer may appear on the head particularly in the scalp region. When it appears in the scalp it can be described as a growth like a bump or lump in the head.

Cysts. Epidermal or sebaceous cysts are caused by a duct located at the basement of the hair shaft that was clogged. It will also lead to having lumps on the head portion.

Hive. Hives are due to allergic reaction. It will be manifested in large red bumps or lumps.

Lump on Back Treatment

Lump on Back of Neck Treatment

  • Pharmacological Intervention. When the etiology of the lumps of the back of the neck is due to bacteria or viral cause, antibiotics may be given. You may also give anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling.
  • Surgical Intervention. When despite pharmacological intervention has been done, yet the lump is not resolved or treated. Then, the last option left would be its Surgical Intervention.

Lump on Back of Head Treatment

  • Medication. When the etiology of the lump of the back of the neck is due to dermatitis, you can use medical shampoos out in the market such as ketoconazole.
  • Surgery. If the cause of the lump of the back of the head is due to cyst, malignant or benign in nature. Then it is necessary to remove it as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the cyst.

Proofread by carlos reno on 27/8/2012.


6 Responses to “Lump on Back of Neck and Head – Causes and Treatment”

  • [...] lesions may appear as skin inflammation. Later on, some of these patients may also notice that a “lump” will then continue to grow and will eventually become a hard, ulcerated, and cauliflower-like in [...]

  • snpy says:

    I have a lymph node in my neck but not sure it is swollen though be ut it has been there for three days now and I have a fever that gets serious at times,in my own thinking,the node in the neck grow because of touching it too much,right now I can even fell another one. To be honest I have been touching my neck so much due to anxiety and worring that these might be symptoms of HIV,,,please I need help on these – I am scared!

  • neliswa says:

    i also hv lumps on ma neck m scared.plz help me

  • Keon says:

    I have the same head as the dude in the last picture and I don’t think that’s a lump. I think that’s just how his head is shaped.

  • Nik says:

    I hope all is well with u all. My son had lumps on the back of his neck with high fever on & off. They hospitalized him, did every kind of test on him, including HIV and they still could not find the cause. They were going to do a biopsy, but they gave him steroids which seemed to work.

  • piki says:

    I have hard lump on the side of the head, near ear. Feels like bone and some dense tissue above it and skin above that. On other parts of head skin has different texture when U pinch it, it doesn’t have that dense thing below. Is that normal? I don’t have that on other side of my head and it’s new to me.


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