Lump On Back Of Head: Could It Be Brain Tumor

Some lumps can resolve without any form of medical intervention. For instance, you can treat mild injuries from home. But some cases will require medical intervention.

man putting compress on head

It is quite common to find a lump on back of head. Sometimes, the lump may occur on your skin, under your skin, or even on your bone. They can occur due to various causes. You may wonder if your lump is a sign of a brain tumor. While that is possible, in most cases, lumps at the back of your head will be benign.

You should also note that your head has a natural lump or bump behind it. This bump is called the inion. It is the point where neck muscles attach to your skull base. Aside from this natural bump, any other bump that appears at the back of your head could be due to injuries, cysts, folliculitis, bone spurs, or lipoma, among other causes.

The diversity of lumps behind the head is a sign that they are not all from the same root cause. Some lumps are soft while some are hard. They can also vary greatly in size. Some lumps can resolve without any form of medical intervention. For instance, you can treat mild injuries from home. These lumps are not life-threatening.

But some cases will require medical intervention. For instance, you cannot treat cancer at home. Generally speaking, if the lump is causing you serious pain or discomfort, or it’s worsening or getting larger by the day, you should visit your doctor on time. As you read on, we will talk about some of the possible reasons why you may have a lump behind your head.

Can Lump on Back of Head be a Brain Tumor?

To be honest, a lump at the back of your head can be a skull base tumor, which is a type of bone tumor. But this is quite rare. More so, a tumor is not always cancerous. Chordoma is a common type of skull cancer that usually grows from skull-base bones.

If you have a small chordoma, you may not have any noticeable symptoms. But then, large chordomas are usually symptomatic. The symptoms of large chordomas include the following:

  1. Difficulties with balance and walking
  2. Severe headaches
  3. Visual disturbances
  4. Hearing problems

Chordomas can spread from the skull base to other body parts. But before that metastasize (spread), you can treat them.

Treating a skull-base tumor depends on many factors. The first consideration is whether your tumor is cancerous or benign? Doctors also consider the tumor’s size and location. Many individual variables also determine the treatment plan.

But then, a lump behind your neck rarely means a tumor. One very common cause is a head injury. You may have head injuries for various reasons. These causes include:

  1. Forceful impacts or blow on your head
  2. Falling backward
  3. A collision during contact sport
  4. Violence
  5. Other forms of accident

A blow behind your head can lead to scalp hematomas. This refers to the accumulation of blood under your skin. This can form a semisolid lump. Some people call these lumps “goose eggs.”

If your head injury is minor, you can treat it at home by simply resting. You may also get over-the-counter pain relief meds. Ice compressions can also help.

But if the injury is very serious, you may have a concussion. If the concussion is severe, dangerous complications can arise, except you receive proper treatment. What common symptoms are typical of concussion? They include:

  1. Confusion
  2. Fainting
  3. Severe headache
  4. Vision problems
  5. Dizziness
  6. Vomiting and nausea
  7. Problems with balance or walking
  8. Slurred speech

If you have these symptoms, you should immediately seek proper medical attention. You should not even wait for concussion symptoms if you hit your head hard on anything. If such an event occurs, you should seek emergency care before concussion symptoms show up.

Other Possible Causes of Lump Behind The Head

We already talked about cancer and head injuries. But they are not the only causes of lumps behind your head. Other possible causes of these lumps include:


Lipomas are fatty growths that usually develop under the skin. They can develop anywhere on your body, including behind your head. These lumps are of various sizes, but they do not cause any pain whatsoever.

Lipomas typically have a soft, rubbery feel. And if you press the lipoma, it may shift around. Experts are yet to fully understand the causes of lipomas. However, it has become clear that they are most common in people between ages 40 and 60 years. More so, it occurs more commonly in men than in women.

Bone spur

Bone spurs (or what experts call exostosis) refers to bony outgrowths that often develops around joints. A bony spur can occur on any of your bones. But if it occurs around the junction of your head and neck, it may cause a lump behind your head.

Continual pressure on the back-side of your head, for instance, in those who spend lots of time lying down, can cause bone spurs. But then, the cause is not always obvious or apparent. They can occur spontaneously.

Bone spurs are usually immovable and they feel somewhat hard. They are usually not painful, but if they put pressure on your nerves or rub against other bones or tissues, they may lead to pain.

Pilar cyst

While lipomas are more common in men, pilar cysts occur more commonly in females. These cysts are types of skin cysts that typically develop on the scalp. However, they sometimes occur on necks too.

Sometimes, doctors prefer to call pilar cysts by the name, trichilemmal cysts. So if you see that in your diagnosis, know that this is what they are talking about. The cysts are often smooth and dense. They contain an accumulation of keratin.

Pilar cysts grow slowly. The size of these cysts could vary 0.5cm and 5cm in diameter. More so, it often runs in families. They are usually asymptomatic and generally harmless. But sometimes, they can cause pain. In such a case, treatment becomes necessary.

When to Seek Medical Intervention

You should see your physician for help to treat the lump behind your head if:

  1.  The lump is worsening or getting larger
  2. It is causing your severe pain and/or other problems
  3. The lump starts producing discharge or pus
  4. It feels warm or there is redness in its surrounding area

Lump on back of head may occur for various reasons. But the best way to be sure about what is going on with you is to visit the doctor for proper checkup.

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