What’s Causing the Lump on My Shoulder, and When Should I See a Doctor

What Is the Lump On Top Of My Shoulder?

The lump on top of your shoulder is a benign growth called a lipoma. Lipomas are benign tumors that do not cause any symptoms or signs. They may grow slowly over time, but they don’t usually spread to other parts of the body (other than lymph nodes). Some lipomas have been known to affect the brain, heart, liver, spleen and lungs.

Lipomas are found mostly in children and young adults. There is no specific age at which they appear. However, some studies suggest that it occurs earlier in men than women. The most common location for these tumors is the upper back area (the area around your collar bone) or the chest region (chest wall). Lipomas tend to grow very slowly, so there isn’t often any pain associated with them.

Sometimes, however, they can become painful if you exercise too much or get cold temperatures.

If you notice a lump on top of your shoulder, it is best to see a doctor right away. A lump on top of your shoulder can be a sign that something else is wrong with your health. If the lump doesn’t go down and goes up into the neck or face area, then it could indicate cancer. Lumps on top of shoulders are also referred to as “lump behind” “bump on top of” or “lump on side of”.

What Is Causing the Lump On Top Of My Shoulder?

Lipomas are non-cancerous (benign) growths that develop from fat cells found in the muscles of your body. They are usually found in adults but can also be found in children. There is no known cause for them, although some believe there is a genetic link since they have been known to run in families.

Lipomas can grow in clusters (multi-lobular) or as single tumors (unilobar). Most lipomas do not cause any symptoms unless they are growing in an area that is being affected by the pressure of the growth. If this is the case, you may experience some pain or tenderness in the area. Larger lipomas may actually cause symptoms due to their size. Symptoms may include:

Skin symptoms:

Restricted movement due to the size of the lipoma

Bleeding under the skin (bluish or purple discoloration under the skin)

Swelling caused by the lipoma pushing on nearby tissues

Pain or tenderness

Inflammation of the skin due to infection or injury that is not healing well.

Numbness in the area of lipoma

Neurological symptoms:

Weakness in muscles

Muscle wasting due to pressure on the nerve

Temperature sensitivity (sensitivity to touch or cold)

Tingling, numbness or decreased sensation in the skin surrounding the lipoma.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is best to see your doctor right away. If the lipoma is causing symptoms, it is best to treat it right away since these tumors can grow and start to cause health concerns.

When Should I See a Doctor for the Lump on Top of My Shoulder?

Lipomas can be found in children and adults of any age, but some studies have shown that they are more commonly found in middle-aged men and post-menopausal women. Children are more likely to experience lipomas in the neck area.

Most people who have lipomas do not experience any symptoms. Some people may experience pain, tenderness, or swelling of the area where the lipoma is located. A lipoma may become painful if it is pressing on a nerve or blood vessel.

If you have a painful lipoma that is growing in size or you notice signs of infection, contact your doctor.

If you notice a lump on top of your shoulder and that there is pain or tenderness in the area where the lump is, see your doctor right away. If it is a lipoma, you may need to have it biopsied. It is best to have this done by a medical professional so that they can rule out anything more serious.

How Are Lipomas Diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and give you a physical exam. The physical exam will include an exam of the lump on top of your shoulder. The appearance and location of the lump will help your doctor determine a diagnosis.

Your doctor may also ask if you have any other lumps or abnormal areas on your body. Your doctor may also do a rectal exam to check for lumps in your pelvic area. During the rectal exam, your doctor will insert gloved finger into your rectum to feel any abnormal growths inside your body. A rectal exam is very different than a regular colon exam.

After the physical exam is complete, your doctor may order blood tests or other imaging tests to rule out other problems.

What is the Treatment for a Lipoma?

If you have a small lipoma that is not causing any symptoms, no treatment may be necessary. Sometimes the lipoma will just disappear over time.

If you have a large lipoma, surgery to remove the tumor may be necessary. The type of surgery that is required will depend on where the lipoma is located and how big it is. If the lipoma is small and not in a location that would cause complications if left alone, your doctor may advise “watchful waiting” to see if it grows or increases in size.

In some cases, a biopsy of the lump may be all that is required. A small piece of the lipoma will be removed and examined under a microscope to determine the exact tissue type of the growth.

If your lipoma is in an area that is causing pain or other symptoms, your doctor may suggest surgery to remove the lipoma. The type of surgery will be based upon the location and size of the lipoma. Sometimes lipomas can be completely removed. Other times, if the lipoma is too large, it can only be reduced in size by surgically removing a portion of it.

After the lipoma has been removed, the wound will need to heal. When the wound has healed, you will be advised how to care for the area and any restrictions you may have after surgery.

What is the Prognosis for a Lipoma?

The prognosis for lipomas is good. The exact prognosis will depend on the location and size of the lipoma. Although lipomas are benign (not cancerous), they can grow quite large. If a lipoma does need to be surgically removed, the prognosis after surgery is excellent.

Learn more about Lipoma Treatments

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