A lump on the leg can occur on the thigh, knee, shin, ankle or foot. The lump may be painful, hard, soft, under the skin or on outer skin layers. Many conditions and factors can be responsible for lumps on legs.
Malignant tumors are not common on the leg. All the same, you should have a lump on any part of your body, including lower legs, checked by your doctor. Even if the lump is not cancerous, it could be a sign of an underlying condition such as arthritis. Some lumps can grow large enough to press against nerves and thus cause pain. Others may reduce functionality of leg muscles and joints.
Symptoms of lump on leg
Symptoms of a lump on the leg will depend on what is causing the lump. Generally, the following symptoms may accompany a lump on the leg:
- Pus formation
- Skin tenderness and redness
- Reduced leg functionality
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lumps in other body organs and tissues
Lump on leg on thigh or near groin
On the thigh and near the groin, a lump can be caused by:
A femoral hernia is a lump that occurs in the upper part of the thigh near the groin. It mostly occurs after the small intestines push through a thin or weak point on abdominal wall. Hernias are more visible such as when lifting heavy objects or coughing. A lump in the lower left abdomen caused by a hernia can for example occur after surgery.
Swollen lymph nodes
There are large groupings of lymph nodes near the groin just above the thigh. When you have contracted a disease or infection, lymph nodes keep filtering harmful germs from your blood. Problems such as a wound on your leg may lead to swelling of these lymph nodes. Swollen lymph nodes are felt as painful lump in the groin area. Serious infections will also cause swelling of other lymph nodes.
Common benign tumors on the thigh are lipomas and fibromas. Malignant tumors on the thigh can be caused by sarcoma or melanoma.
Lumps on the thigh can also result from other causes, such as herpes, boils, warts, bone and muscle injuries, autoimmune diseases, insect bites and hematoma. If you are not sure as to what the cause of a lump in your leg on the thigh or near the groin is, best check with your doctor.
Lump on leg on knee or behind knee
You can have a lump on or behind the knee. Common causes of knee lumps include:
These are growths that originate from tendons. A tendon is a tough tissue that attaches muscles to bones. Ganglion cysts form hard lumps under skin. You can check lump in the palm of hand pictures for illustrated details.
A Baker’s cyst develops behind the knee. It is caused by accumulation of fluid under skin at knee joints. People with arthritis are commonly affected.
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are common joint conditions that can form lumps on the knee. In most cases, the lumps will feel like hard nodules under skin on joint.
Gout describes formation of nodules on joints due to accumulation of uric acid. The nodules feel like small bumps under the skin and are painful.
Bursitis is caused by inflammation of bursa. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that reduces friction at a joint.
Other causes of knee lumps include lupus, hematoma, knee injury and boils. Cancerous lumps are rare but can still occur on the knee.
Lump on lower leg below knee
A lump on the lower leg can occur on the shin or on calf muscles. Some may also form under skin. Common causes include:
Deep vein thrombosis
A thrombus is a blood clot that forms inside blood vessels. When such a clot occurs in deep veins, deep vein thrombosis occurs. Any vein in the body can be affected. Most cases are however reported in lower legs. It is a serious condition that requires treatment. Pain and swelling may occur.
Calf muscle injury
The calf muscle is located on the back of the lower leg. Together with the Achilles tendon, it pulls the heel up to allow forward movement. Calf muscles can suffer sudden or gradual injury such as strain or rupture. A painful lump on the lower leg behind the shin will result.
Varicose veins are enlarged, gnarled and twisted veins. Any vein can turn into a varicose vein but ones on the lower legs are mostly affected. This is due to pressure sustained on lower legs when standing or walking.
A hematoma on the lower leg occurs when blood accumulates and clots in soft tissues. Trauma such as an accident may cause damage to blood vessels. As a result, blood leaks from the damaged vessels and clots between tissues. A hard lump on the scrotum after a vasectomy can be a form of a hematoma.
Lipomas are common benign tumors that may form a lump on the leg under skin. Lipomas are not harmful but can become painful if they grow into the path of a nerve. A lipoma lump feels soft, rubbery and movable to the touch. They are not fixed to any tissue. Sometimes, a lump near the esophagus or other unlikely body regions can be a lipoma.
Benign fibroma lumps can also form on the connective tissue of the lower leg. Fibromas often develop after an injury. They do not require treatment.
Sebaceous cysts originate in sebaceous glands. They form movable painless lumps under skin. Some sebaceous cysts are soft while others can be hard. They are common causes of a lump inside the earlobe.
Boils and abscesses
Boils originate in hair follicles or oil glands. In their early stages, boils appear as red bumps under skin. Pus forms and fills in the boils which results in painful lumps with a white tip. After about 5 days, a boil may rupture. If very large, it will be referred to as an abscess.
Osteomyelitis is a rare but serious infection of bones. It mostly occurs when a bone has been exposed to germs. This can happen after an accident for example. Osteomyelitis can start in a different bone and spread to the lower legs.
This is a bacterial infection that occurs on skin and also in the tissues under the affected skin. Any part of the skin can be affected by this disease.
Lump on lower leg near ankle
Most lumps on the lower leg, on the foot and around the ankle, are benign tumors or cystic lumps. Sometimes, a benign tumor or a cyst can be painful. Very rarely will a lump on lower leg be life-threatening.
Benign and cystic lumps averagely measure 2.5 cm or 1 inch in diameter. Bigger lumps are more likely to be painful. This is because they may press a nerve or a blood vessel. Injuries can also be sustained on the foot.
Hard lump on leg
A hard lump on the leg can be cancerous, but rarely is so. Sarcoma lumps grow in connective or fibrous tissues. These are tissues that connect other types of tissues in the body. It is a rare type of cancer.
A cancerous lump on the lower leg can also be a melanoma. This is a deadly type of skin cancer that develops on melanocytes or cells that give the skin its pigment.
Liposarcoma is yet another type of cancer that grows in fat cells under the skin. Liposarcomas can be felt as a hard lump in fatty tissue. Note that this type of cancer doesn’t develop on lipomas. Having lipomas doesn’t increase your chances of developing liposarcoma. While its actual cause is not known, fat cells mutation is mostly to blame.
A cancerous lump can be identified from signs such as rapid or gradual increment in size. Though most cancerous lumps are hard and painless, some can be soft or painful. Melanomas can be taken for moles on skin. The main difference is that moles do not grow in size or change shape.
See your doctor if a hard lump on the leg keeps growing in size, has multiple colors or is irregularly shaped. These are common characteristics of cancerous lumps.
When to see a doctor
There are very many possible causes of lumps on the legs. Some, like lipoma, are not causes for concern. Others such as caused by deep vein thrombosis are dangerous. Much the same can be said about malignant lumps.
See your doctor if a lump is accompanied by other symptoms that may indicate an infection or a disease. This includes reduced muscle functionality such as pain in calf muscle or near shin when walking. Basically, see your doctor for a confirmed diagnosis of any lump on your lower leg.
When preparing for an appointment, you can consider listing your symptoms and major activities that have recently had an impact on your lifestyle. Some information on topics such as how to check breasts for lumps may prove a bit helpful. This is because some causes of lumps are very common and general.