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How can a hard painful lump behind left ear be treated ?

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Im having pain behind my left ear. It hurts to to touch the bone behind my ear and there seems to be a hard lump. Any ideas what this could be?

Posted Sat, 21 Apr 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 5 hours later

Thanks for the query

With this brief history it is very difficult for me to arrive to a diagnosis. If you can furnish few more details regarding this, it would be very helpful.

1.Since how many days are you suffering from this problem?
2.Is there a similar hard swelling felt behind the other ear?
3.Do you have history of ear discharge or fever?
4.Are there any more swellings over your body?
5.Do you suffer with any diagnosed medical conditions?

Sometimes, when people palpate the post aural region due to pain or some other reasons, they might come across a hard swelling which they find it new. This could be a normal mastoid bone.

There are various causes for the swelling to happen behind the ear (post aural) to mention a few:

Lymphadenitis – Presence of an enlarged and inflamed lymph node behind the ear can cause pain in this region with a hard swelling. This lymphadenitis could be either due to the ongoing infection in the surrounding area or dandruff.

Mastoid abscess and mastoiditis – Secondary to the middle ear infection, this is associated with the ear discharge and fever.

Neuralgic pain – With a normal mastoid there can be nerve related pain from the irritation of either occipital or glossopharyngeal nerve.

Referred pain – Due to arthopathy (inflammation) of the joints in the surrounding area.

Please reply me with the answers of the above questions as these will help me in suggesting you better.

Awaiting for your reply.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: How can a hard painful lump behind left ear be treated ? 3 hours later
Thank you for your reply.

To answer your questions:
1. I have had this problem for about a week now with no change in symptoms.
2. There is no lump, pain, or any tenderness behind the other ear. Only one ear is affected.
3. I have no fever or ear discharge of any kind. The inside of my ear has absolutely no discomfort.
4. There is a raised area above my left ear in my hairline that is painful to touch as well. It started around the same time as the pain behind my ear did.
5. I have no medical history and no diagnosed medical conditions.
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 4 hours later

Welcome back.

Thank you for your detailed history. The commonest conditions which could cause pain and swelling in this region are lymphadenitis, mastoid abscess and acute mastoiditis. According to the history you have provided, there is no ear discharge, fever or a fluctuant swelling. And hence, this could most probably be a Post Auricular Lymphadenitis.

Lymphadenitis is a condition wherein there is inflammation of the lymph nodes as a reaction to the infection or inflammation in the surrounding region. Mere folliculitis of the hair follicle or dandruff can trigger this. Lymph nodes are like policemen of our body which swells up during an ongoing infection indicating that there is an infection or inflammation in the surrounding region.

You need to consult your doctor as it is already a week since these problems have started and you require antibiotics to control the infection as well as anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Diclofenac or Ibuprofen) to reduce the swelling and the pain. Avoid repeated trauma in this region while you comb or wash your hair.

Hope I have answered your query, if you have any more doubts you are welcome.

Dr. Naveen Kumar
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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