Common places to find enlarged lymph nodes are on the neck and in the groin. The ones along the back of the neck are the cervical lymph nodes and occipital lymph nodes. These nodes are along the spine in the back of the neck.
Swollen lymph nodes aren’t always painful but once they are discovered and no matter what the cause is, enlarged lymph glands can cause concern and create anxiety because of their association with cancer. Generally they are responding to an infection in the body and will go about their business without the need of interference or treatment.
When the cause is a serious infection like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) or other illness, it will need to be treated. When the lymph nodes on the neck are near the spine and they swell, it can cause pressure and pain along the spine. It is rare, but the cause may be from lymphoma, which will need to be treated before the pain and pressure from the lymph nodes will be relieved.
Causes of Pain in Upper Spine in Neck
Swollen lymph nodes can cause pain in the neck region but it is not the only cause. There are other ailments that may be the reason for pain in the upper spine. When lymph nodes swell it can be from an infection in the area or from lymphoma, which is cancer of the lymph nodes. Other causes include the following:
- Meningitis (spinal or aseptic)
- Disc that is degenerating
- Strained muscle
- Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
- Cervical spondylosis
- Lyme disease
- Bone spurs
- Infection of throat or ears
- Viral or bacterial infection
All cancers can cause lymph node involvement, which can include the nodes on the back of the neck near the spine. When they are normal size they will not cause pain but when they are distended, there can be discomfort on the spine. In addition to swelling that persists there may be other signs that lymph nodes need to be checked by a healthcare professional.
When to have Lymph Node Checked and Treated
The lymph nodes will naturally swell and return to their normal size as they perform their function of filtering debris and circulating lymph. When they have a job that is too big to handle like a serious illness, infection, or disease then treatment of the cause will be necessary before the nodes will return to normal size. When the following symptoms of lymph node occur it could be a sign of a serious health issue:
- Hard, fixed
- Tender nodes
- Rapidly growing
- Sudden appearance
Only a healthcare professional will be able to diagnose the cause of the above symptoms. There may be additional symptoms that may accompany lymph node symptoms like sudden weight loss, flu-like symptoms, fever, night sweats, difficulty breathing, and infection. If a physician doesn’t find that the cause is an infection, a virus, or other illness the diagnosis may be lymphoma. To find out more about the relationship between lymph nodes and cancer, go to thelymphnodes.com.
Lymphoma and Painful Nodes on the Neck
Though an uncommon cause of pain on the upper spine is from lymph nodes that are swollen from lymphoma, it is possible it may be the cause. Only a physician can diagnose cancer after a thorough exam and the results of testing are received. When this is the case, the affected lymph nodes will need to be removed and a biopsy (dissection) will be done. Removal of a lymph node is called a lymphadenectomy and it is often done as an outpatient procedure.
There are many causes of spinal pain in the neck and one of those causes can be from swollen lymph nodes. The cause of the nodes enlarging is often just a minor infection but it may be from a serious health issue. When concerned about lymph node symptoms a physician should be consulted.