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Have small movable lump on collarbone. Could it be flu related, cyst or muscle spasm?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2010
Answered : 726 Questions
I have a small lump/bump on my collarbone just below my the base of my neck/near left shoulder. It's actually on the bone. When I press on it it moves back and forth but stays in the same spot. I went to Urgent Care, since I thought it might be related to the flu shot I received in my left arm the day before I noticed the lump. The doctor felt it and said its probably a benign cyst, but to see a general surgeon since its "not in their scope". The evaluation took maybe two minutes. I saw my family physician yesterday, who said it felt like a muscle spasm. She wants me to have a scan. I wanted to get your insight. Can you offer any guidance as far as what a lymph node feels like versus a cyst or a muscle spasm? Thank you.
Posted Fri, 9 Nov 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Kulbir Singh 10 hours later
Hello and thanks for posting the query
I have read your query in detail. Lymph node is usually present in axilla, neck and inguinal region while cyst can be found any where in the body where the glands are present. Muscle spasm in the contraction of the muscles. Certain measures that can differentiate between them are:
1. A lymph node is there all the time, and is still a lymph node when it is swollen or enlarged. Enlarged lymph node is due to any infection like bacterial or viral and can be treated by antibiotics.
2. A cyst is an encapsulated local collection of fluid or sebum (sebaceous cyst). It usually requires excision.
3. A cyst can be drained or emptied, but a swollen node can not unless it is badly infected and forms an abscess. Then it would be extremely painful and in urgent need of medical attention.
4. Cysts are usually not particularly painful, but can be tender to the touch. Lymph node and muscle spasm are painful in touch.
5. Muscle spasm, is usually painful with the movement of the part and get relieved by pain killers, muscle relaxant drugs and removing the underline cause like electrolyte imbalance or drugs.

To investigate the bump you have to go for either scan as directed by your doctor or needle aspiration test (FNAC). But do not perform FNAC without recommendation of your doctor. Lump can be best diagnosed by clinical examination and relevant investigation. So follow the instructions of your doctor and get to diagnosis.

Hope I have answered your query. I will be happy to answer your other related queries.
Best Wishes and have a healthy life.
Dr. Kulbir Singh
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have small movable lump on collarbone. Could it be flu related, cyst or muscle spasm? 5 hours later

Thank you for your response. The bump is maybe 1/2 inch long. When I move my finger over it, it snaps back and forth - the same way a vein moves/feels when you move one on the top of your hand. It stays in the same spot though. There is also a red acne bump almost directly on top of it on my skin. Not sure if that's related - just could be from messing with the bump. Anyway - does that sound more like a lymph node, cyst, or muscle knot to you?
Answered by Dr. Kulbir Singh 41 minutes later
Hello and thanks again for posting the query
In my opinion it could be a cyst if not related to acne. As you have a red acne over it, redness is some time indication of infection. The bump below may be related to the acne bump if they occur together or after acne. Take a course of effective antibiotic with anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen by consulting your doctor. If it reduces in 2-3 days, than need not to worry and continue the medication till next advice.

If only the acne bump reduces than you have investigate the below bump that is most likely to be a cyst by scan or FNAC.
Hope you got your answer. Thanks again for the follow up query. Write back if you have another one.
Best Wishes and have a good time.
Dr. Kulbir Singh
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have small movable lump on collarbone. Could it be flu related, cyst or muscle spasm? 33 minutes later
Thanks again. I guess I'll just have to wait. Researching things on the Internet can be extremely overwhelming. Everything leaps straight to cancer. That's why I wondered what a lymph node feels like, and if they can appear on your collar bone (instead of in the hollow area of the clavicle).
Answered by Dr. Kulbir Singh 3 hours later
Hello and thanks again
Need not to worry 90% of the bumps are benign and usually not require any treatment unless infected. They stay there without causing any symptoms. As you are little bit conscious about the bump so go for the scan as per direction of your doctor and find out what is it? This will give relaxation to your mind.

Don't worry and just cheers.
Best Wishes
Dr. Kulbir Singh
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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