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What is the bony protrusion behind my ear?

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Practicing since : 2002
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I am 51 y.o., 67" tall, 140 lbs., and have no remarkable medical history. I have what feels like a boney protusion behind my ear directly on the bone - it is midcenter behind my ear. I have had no infections that I know of - no symptoms of cold, sore throat, ear ache, etc. I cannot move it and it only causes very minor pain if I press on it. Any ideas what it is - do I need to see a doctor?
Posted Sat, 14 Apr 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 53 minutes later
Hello and thanks for the query.

Your question is a very good one and I can understand why you might be concerned with what you have observed. Regarding what you have identified there is a small area which is firm to touch just behind your ear.

If we think about the structures which are located in this area the first thing that comes to mind is the bony prominence which is in that area referred to as the mastoid bone. It is conceivable and possible that a small cyst has formed from the base of that phone. Again this is a possibility but there is no way for me to definitely diagnosis in the absence of being able to lay hands upon you.

Another possibility would be that the firmness which you appreciate is actually a small lymph node. There are many lymph nodes in the area of the neck including a chain of lymph nodes which run behind the ear. You might ask why would there be such a lymph node and the answer is that several things could contribute to that. One possible consideration would be a mild viral infection. These can sometimes cause swelling of lymph nodes in the neck. Additionally mild inflammation of a portion of your skiing in the area of the neck could also cause this. Again this is very difficult to determine without being able to examine you.

Since you otherwise feel quite well I see no indication for you to go and see your physician immediately. I would recommend that you continue to observe this area for the next 7 to 10 days. I would try not to touch or disturb the area during that period of time as this may aggravate an inflammatory process and make it more persistent. Otherwise there is no need for antibiotics. You could try to take some ibuprofen for a few days to see if this helps.

I thank you again for submitting your question. I hope you found my answer to be both helpful and informative. If you have any additional concerns I would be happy to address them.


Dr. Robert.
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