Reasons of Hard Lump on Back of the Neck

Q: I am a 23 years old female. I have a hard bump on the back of my neck for about 2 weeks, along with spine pain and headaches. I have a cyst in my kidney and ovary; I am not sure if this could be a part of my problem. I am just not feeling good at all and wondering if this sounds like a problem arising or something that should pass.


The cysts in the ovary or kidney do not seem to be related to your neck problem.

The bump on the back of your neck could just be a knotted muscle. Such a lump may lead to headaches.

Applying muscle relaxants on the area can be helpful in such cases.

Other Possibilities for Such a Swelling

  1. It could be a sebaceous cyst. Such swellings are firm or hard to touch. They usually reduce in size on their own with time.
  2. It could be a boil or furuncle.
  3. Enlarged lymph node present in the area. The occipital group of lymph nodes are present in the back of the neck. They may get enlarged during any infection of the head and neck area. They also get enlarged in cases of lymphomas (malignancy).
  4. It could be fibroma, a non-cancerous growth.

Since the swelling is hard to touch, it is advisable to get it examined by a doctor to rule out malignancy.

Take Care,

Buddy M.D.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “What Causes Hard Bump on Back of the Neck?

  1. Anonymous

    Hey Doc. I have a really yucky cold sore in my right nostril and on the outside. My nose is red and swollen on the side and you can see the little blisters on the rim of my nose. On the same side as the cold sore, I have a swollen lymph node in my neck in the front right side . Is that due to the cold sore?

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This appears to be an infective lesion. You need to take antibiotic treatment at the earliest.

      It is suggested that you visit an ENT specialist as soon as possible for examination of the lesion.

      The swollen lymph nodes are very likely to be due to this infected lesion.

  2. Anonymous

    I went to the doc. She said the the cold sore in my nose turned into an infection called impetigo. Gave me Valtrex for the cold sore and an antibiotic cream for the infection. She also gave me an oral antibiotic but said I didn’t need to take it unless it got worse and the ointment didn’t take care of it.
    She said the lymph nodes that were swollen under my ear are the one directly related to my nose and sinuses and that is why they were swollen. It has only been 2 days since I got them checked and they are still swollen but seem like they have gone down a little. How long does it take for lymph nodes to go back down to normal? Is it okay that they are still swollen?

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Lymph nodes resolve after the infection goes away completely. It may take 10 to 15 days for them to regress completely.

      Just continue taking the medicines your doctor has given you.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Too much of fiddling with those lymph nodes is not advised. This can irritate or inflame them, and it may take longer for them to heal.

      If you touch them once or twice a day, to assess their status, it’s alright.

  3. Anonymous

    I had only been using the topical antibiotics for the cold sore and impetigo and the lymph nodes under my ear were slowly going down. However, on Monday I felt a new small swollen node on that same side behind my ear. I went back to the doctor and she said there is some murky infected fluid in that ear now. She also rechecked my nose and the sores are still there but they are much smaller. She gave me a stronger oral antibiotic instead of the topical one because she said that would get rid of the impetigo and the ear infection. Is it common to have a swollen lymph node behind your ear if it is infected?

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Well yes. Lymph nodes behind the ears belong to the group draining the head and neck region. Any infection in the scalp, ear, nose, sinuses may reach these lymph nodes and give a reaction there.

  4. Jolene

    Hey. I wrote last week also but can’t find the post to add to.
    Anyways I got a cold sore up my right nostril that turned into impetigo infection. I also had a few swollen lymph nodes under my right ear (same side as cold sore) The doc gave me a topical antibiotic for it. A week later it was better but not gone and my right ear hurt too. Also another lymph node popped up on that same side. I went back and the doctor said that I now also had an ear infection. So she gave me an oral antibiotic (bactrim) to get rid of the impetigo and ear infection in one. The lymph nodes are still swollen. It has been 2 weeks since the start of impetigo and 1 week since the ear infection. I still have 4 days left of my oral antibiotic. The lymph nodes definitely feel smaller and less swollen but are still palpable. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I feel them like 20 times a day. Is this worrisome? How long does it take for them to go all the way away?

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      What about the sore inside the nostril? Has it become better?

      From what you have written, you seem to be responding to the antibiotic treatment. It may take 10 to 15 days to the swollen lymph glands to regress. This is normal.

      1. Jolene

        Yes, the sore in the nostril is gone for the most part. It still looks a little bit pink, but barely. It has been 15 days since this all started. Do you mean 10-15 days from when it started or 10-15 days from now?

        Will touching them a lot make them take longer to regress?

        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          10- 15 days from now! Lymph nodes do take a long time to go.

          We do not need to intervene unless the nodes grow in size or become painful.

          A little touching is alright, however, touching them a lot may irritate them.

  5. Jolene

    Hey Doc. It has been 3 weeks since the lymph nodes started swelling from the cold sore, ear infection, and impetigo. They were pretty large before I started on the antibiotics. It has been a week since I wrote last. I can still feel them, but they feel about 1/3 of the size they were when all of this mess started. They are regressing just really slowly. Also, I have to turn my neck and stretch my skin pretty hard to feel them really good. I also have pretty annoying allergies when the seasons start to change. They have gone down a lot but is it okay that I can still feel them?

  6. Shree

    Hi doctor.
    I have a swollen lymph nodes under my left chin. I checked with ent and he told that no need to worry because of their size.

    Now I am having mild on and off pain in my left ear and sometimes it is passing through my left side of throat.
    Now I am also experiencing mild pain under my left arm, left side of my chest and back side of my left leg also.
    All these pains are mild.

    I am having a black tooth in left side of my mouth. But it is not painful but sometimes I feel pain when I touch the bone under the black tooth outside i.e., on chin. .

    I don’t know what is happening. Please give me your valuable suggestion.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      You seem to be harboring some infection in your left side. May be a sore throat or that black tooth. You may check with a dentist and get the tooth treated to start with.

  7. Sarai

    Hi doctor I’m under the age of 15 I have a lump inside the skin on my back on the left side and it’s not noticeable only if you touch it then you feel it like a lump, i searched a little on the internet it was saying stuff like cancer which scared me because I’m a teen yet, I’m not sure if it’s a cyst because I have acne around my body and I really don’t want to go to the doctors so pls give me a little help doc.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Since it’s inside the skin, it’s unlikely to be an acne. May be a fibrosed nodule. Very very unlikely to be cancer.

      Needs a physical exam for diagnosis.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      In general, such nodules may stay for long durations, may be years.

      For precise diagnosis, you need to get examined.


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