Painful, Soft, Hard Lump on Collarbone: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Pictures.

The collarbone is also known as the clavicle. It is the bone that forms a hard horizontal bulge between the breastbone and shoulder blade. The collarbone is clearly visible in people with less fat under the skin at base of neck. Lump in throat thyroid symptoms can sometimes extend to near the clavicle.

Often enough, lumps show up on the collarbone. Health conditions are mostly to blame for these lumps. For this reason, you are advised to check with your doctor for diagnosis. Health conditions and diseases are always more treatable if discovered early enough.

Soft lump on collarbone near shoulder

A painless soft lump on the collarbone is most likely a lipoma. Lipomas are growths that develop on fatty tissues under the skin. They are common causes of soft lumps near the shoulder.

Subcutaneous lipomas are most common near the shoulder and on the collarbone. These are lipomas that form just beneath the skin and can be easily felt.  Intermuscular lipomas are rare but can still occur in this region.

Soft, rubbery, doughy, painless, round and movable are the common terms used to describe a lipoma. Small ones are the size of a pea while large ones can reach 6 cm in diameter. Most grow slowly over months or years. You can have more than one lipoma around the same region. Their actual cause is unknown. Many cases are reported in obese and overweight individuals. Losing weight does not shrink lipomas.

Treatment is only necessary if the lipoma is bothersome. Even if left untreated, it will not lead to or increase risk of getting cancer. Surgical removal is the most effective treatment option. The lipoma can also be drained or injected with anti-inflammatory medications.

Painful lump on collarbone

The collarbone is one of the most commonly fractured bones. If fractured, a painful lump on the collarbone will form. Very little fat is found in the skin covering the collarbone. Among other things, body fat acts a shock absorber. Lack of fat cushioning the collarbone makes it easily injured such as during sports or in an accident.

Children sometimes sustain collarbone injuries while they are being born. It is also common to encounter these injuries before puberty. This is because the clavicle is fairly slow in maturing.

Injury to collarbone bone can also be due to a dislocation. Tough cords known as ligaments attach the collarbone to shoulder joint. Too much pressure on these ligaments can pull the collarbone out of its normal position in shoulder joint.

A severe injury such as torn ligaments may result in a lump on right side of esophagus, left side or both. These lumps are swollen lymph nodes.

Hard movable lump on collarbone

Cysts are the common causes of hard lumps on the collarbone that are a bit movable. Generally, a cyst forms when fluid collects in a sac or a pocket under the skin. Some can be soft but most are hard when pressed. You can have one surgically removed if it is bothersome. This is mostly because they do not disappear if not removed. Large cysts can press against a nerve and cause pain. It can be quite challenging to tell a cyst from a malignant tumor. This is mostly because cysts can grow into large lumps and are mostly painless. Insist on a biopsy, especially when dealing with breast lumps or lumps on other cancer-prone body areas.

A swollen lymph node can also be responsible for a hard movable lump. There are lymph nodes throughout your body, which filter germs from the blood. Larger groupings are located on the left and right side of neck, under chin, in armpit and near groin area. An injury or infection in the collarbone may result in swelling of lymph nodes near this region. You however are more likely to notice a lump on the collarbone near the throat. Lymph nodes are not readily movable but also not as firm as cancerous lumps. When swollen, they tend to be painful. Even minor infections such as a lump on the outside of the eyelid can cause swelling of lymph nodes.

Other possible causes

  • Osteoarthritis – this is a degenerative disease of joints of the ‘wear and tear’ type. On collarbone, osteoarthritis mostly develops on the acromioclavicular joint. This is the end on which the collarbone meets the shoulder blade. Hard, bony nodules result from this disorder. The affected joint will also be painful. Osteoarthritis can also occur on the sterno-clavicular joint but less commonly. Other than on the clavicle, osteoarthritis is a common cause of lump on the leg, especially on the joints of the knee and foot.
  • Osteomyelitis – this is a bone infection that commonly occurs in long bones. It occurs when a bone gets infected with bacteria and sometimes fungi. Deep cuts and large open wounds can act as entry points for causal bacterial. Without treatment, osteomyelitis can completely destroy a bone.
  • Fractures that abnormally healed – joints are quite sophisticated. When recovering from an injury, a ligament or a bone at the shoulder joint can heal abnormally. This will be felt as a hard lump on the joint. A fracture on the collarbone itself can also heal abnormally, a common condition in people with weak bone density. It can also be that the fracture was not given the attention it required.

A rare condition known as condensing osteitis of the clavicle can sometimes be responsible for a small hard lump on collarbone. It is characterized by hardening of clavicle bone on medial end. The hardening does not occur or involve the sterno-clavicular joint. Although benign, this disorder is in most cases painful.

Is a hard lump on collarbone a sign of cancer?

It is quite rare to develop a malignant tumor on the collarbone. A bone spur on the clavicle can be an osteochondroma (a growth that forms on surface of a bone, mostly on cartilages) or a giant cell tumor (large cells that form on a bone close to a joint). All these will be felt as a hard lump on the shoulder blade or clavicle. Cysts can also develop on bones.

Malignant tumors are however more common on the collarbone compared to benign tumors. You are advised to get a medical diagnosis for a tumor on the clavicle that rapidly or gradually increases in size. Since cancerous lumps can develop on other areas near the clavicle, symptoms such as feeling like you have a lump in your throat when swallowing and persistently swollen lymph nodes should cause you concern.

Diagnosis and treatment for lump on collarbone

Diagnosis

Some lumps such as lipomas and cysts can be identified after a physical exam. Fractures and clavicle injuries require X-rays and other imaging tests such as MRIs. They will show the location and severity of the injury.

A combination of imaging tests and biopsy will probably be performed for clavicle tumors. A biopsy may also be necessary when diagnosing a sore lump on the clavicle or bone infection.

Treatment

The best treatment approach for a lump on collarbone will depend on its causes. Cysts and lipomas can be left untreated or be surgically removed.

Fractures and injuries rarely call for surgery. Physical therapy and techniques such as ice treatment will be enough to encourage normal healing.

Swollen lymph nodes resolve after the infection or disease causing them has been treated. At home, you can try cold compress treatment to ease pain. If lymph nodes swell for more than 2 weeks or in multiple locations, see your doctor.

Osteoarthritis is not curable or reversible. Medications and techniques are however available to reduce pain and minimize damage. Rare conditions are mostly closely monitored when no treatment option is available.

Tumors are best removed surgically. Cancerous lumps require a therapeutic treatment approach. Your doctor will advise on the same depending on how advanced the disease is.

When to see a doctor

The clavicle is not one of the body parts that can be said to be among the most commonly affected by lumps. It is therefore very important to go for medical diagnosis if a lump shows up in this area. Chances are that the lump will not be cancerous. However, conditions such as arthritis or bone infection which can result in clavicle lumps are also quite serious and require medical attention. Infections on the other hand may not cause immediate serious symptoms but can travel to blood vessels and ultimately to vital organs such as the brain.