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Lump in Neck. Muscle, Node or Mass?
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Lump in Neck. Muscle, Node or Mass?

After a weeks of non-tender pain from base of my skull down my neck into the top of my shoulders and along my shoulder on the left side unrelated to movement I went to my my internist, who attributed to muscle spasm / tension and gave me a muscle relaxer that didn't help.

A few days later I felt the left side of my neck and found a 'lump' that is fairly deep (can't be felt or seen superficially and requires some pressure to feel), long (about 2.5 cm long x 1.5 cm wide) and runs roughly parallel to and near the sternocleidomastoid within the occipital triangle. Thought it might be a knot in the levator scapulae or other nearby muscle, or maybe just the way I'm 'built' but I can't feel anything like it on the other (right) side and that concerns me.

When I couldn't see my internist I went to an urgent care facility and the doc said that he thought it was a lymph node, which scared me because of its size and its non-tender and I have no infections or virus. I then headed to the ER, where I saw a P.A who also said he thought it was a swollen node.

I went to my internist again and she said she thought it was a muscle, then brought her partner in to feel it and he agreed. She prescribed me Soma (muscle relaxer) and Klonopin for anxiety. Neither has reduced the size or hardness of the area. Doc said she didn't think imaging was necessary.

Recent history: Was diagnosed with Adies Pupil about 1.5 years ago by a neuro opthalmologist who has followed up with me every 3 mos since. At the time I had a brain MRI, neuro exam, nerve conduction test / EMG. All normal.

Also had MRI brain last week & pelvic / abdominal CT. Only abnormality was small hepatic cyst that doc wants to follow up in 4 mos. Bloodwork (CBC, full panel) normal except elevated liver, which were checked with another test and found to be OK.

Is it likely that this is just a muscle, or is this worrisome for a very enlarged node or some other mass in my neck?

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Obviously, the doctors evaluating you and performing the physical exam have the best opportunity to comment on what the lesion feels like.  If there is concern and nothing is resolving, ask for a referral to an ent or for imaging to better assess the area.  Good luck.
2 Comments
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I have something that sounds like the same thing... deepish in the neck behind my ear... however it's about 3-4 finger widths behind my ear.... too far back to be lymph nodes I thought. It is very tender and hurts however (at first I thought it was just a neck ache) and it only just started this morning. It hurts when i touch it or turn my head.
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