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Lump is a type of localized enlargement, or an abnormal protrusion of the skin. Neck stiffness is commonly associated with this type of lump. Usually the lump hurts and causes sharp shooting pain when touched. However, in some cases, these pea-sized lumps are painless and do not have any impact on the day-to-day activities of the person.

Causes

Injury to the Tendon or the Muscles
A torn or a damaged tendon (tissues that join the muscles with the bones) can be one of the reasons behind the occurrence of swollen mass of tissue of the neck. The muscles and tendons are responsible for giving the body a proper shape. This is true as long as the muscles remain in their original position. However, any injury that leads to torn or ruptured muscle or tendon displaces it from its normal position, which then forms a lump. So, one can say that 'lump' formation indicates that the associated muscles or tendons are badly affected. The damaged part of the muscle protrudes outwards, forming a large lump. Difficulty moving head is one of the most common symptoms of neck muscle injury. Muscle tear inside the neck can also cause internal bleeding, depending upon the severity of the injury. Strenuous exercises for a long time or trauma such as an accident are some of the factors that can cause muscle tear.

Treatment: Taking adequate rest and application of ice in the first 48 hours is essential to relieve pain and discomfort. Taking Epsom salt bath is also very effective to reduce muscle aches associated with injuries. Activities that involve carrying heavy weights can aggravate neck pain. So, to avoid inflicting further damage to your neck injury, better stay away from such activities. Painkillers such as acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory medicines that include ibuprofen may also help to alleviate pain.

Swollen Lymph Nodes
Swollen lymph nodes is another factor that could bring this unwanted protrusion on back of neck. As we all know, the lymphatic system (a part of the immune system) is a dense interconnected network of vessels that circulate a fluid known as lymph, throughout the body. The fluid (lymph) is primarily made up of white blood cells (lymphocytes) that protect the body against various infections. The lymph nodes (components of the immune system) are bean-shaped glandular structures, consisting mainly of lymphatic tissues that occur in different parts of the body including the neck, underarm, groin and the abdomen.

Also known as the lymph glands, the lymph nodes filter the lymph fluid when it passes through them, thereby removing bacteria and other impurities, which get collected in these lymph nodes. As lymph nodes also produce white blood cells, the accumulated bacteria in the lymph nodes are destroyed and eventually disposed off through the urine. However, if bacteria accumulate in large numbers in the lymph nodes, it can trigger a localized infection in these parts. This may lead to swelling of the lymph nodes. Also, these enlarged nodes that are visible as lump behind the neck tend to be extremely painful.

A person suffering from sore throat or respiratory problems such as common cold or seasonal flu tends to show swollen lymph nodes at the back side of neck. Glandular fever, a viral infection can also cause lymph nodes to swell at the side or rear part of the neck.

Treatment: People affected with swollen lymph nodes will be treated after diagnosing the underlying cause. Bacterial infections that cause sore throat respond to antibiotics. On the other hand, inflamed lymph nodes from a virus infection do not require any treatment as the symptoms resolve on their own within a week. Getting plenty of rest and ensuring adequate water intake is also necessary to ease the symptoms.

Tonsillitis
Touch the back side of neck of tonsillitis patients and you may feel a lump. Tonsillitis marked by inflammation of the tonsils and trouble swallowing is common during childhood. Tonsil is a ball-shaped mass of tissue that sits at the back of the throat, near the rear end of the tongue. The tonsils catch and destroy harmful pathogens that try to enter the body during inhalation. However, these glandular tissues that defend the body against germs can also get infected causing inflammation. In most cases, people diagnosed with tonsillitis show formation of lump in the front portion of the neck but if the infection is severe, the lymph nodes at the back side of the neck may also get inflamed and cause pain.

Treatment: Many times, prescription medicine is not necessary to treat tonsillitis. Home remedies often work to effectively manage throat discomfort and foster healing. As salt is antiseptic, gargling with salt water is one of the best ways to alleviate pain and ensure faster recovery. However, in case the infection is severe and caused by bacteria, antibiotics may be prescribed.

Lymphoma
Lymphoma is a type of cancer of the lymphatic system. In this condition, the white blood cells in the fluid (lymph) begin to multiply uncontrollably. As the cancerous cells proliferate rapidly they accumulate in one of many lymph nodes, forming a tumor. This tumor is seen as bulged out mass on the skin. When the lymph node in the neck is affected, a hard mass exactly behind the neck is observed. Lumps associated with lymphoma occur suddenly and do not hurt or cause pain.

Treatment: Standard treatment for lymphoma involves use of chemotherapy, drugs that are formulated to destroy the cancer cells. Radiation therapy in which high energy X-rays are targeted on the affected site, may also help to kill and stop the spread of cancerous growth. Surgery may also be performed to remove the cancerous lymph nodes.

Proper diagnosis is the key to eliminate this protruding mass. In most cases, swelling in the neck is the result of a pulled muscle. However, unexplained persistent swelling, that is seen in the form of lump requires consultation with a doctor for correct diagnosis.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.