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underarm pain

Arm Lump

By

Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is arm lump?

An arm lump is a protuberance or localized area of swelling occurring on the arm. Other terms used to describe the various types of lumps include bump, nodule, contusion, tumor and cyst. Arm lumps can be caused by any number of conditions, including infections, inflammation, tumors or trauma. Depending on the cause, lumps may be single or multiple, soft or firm, painful or painless. They may grow rapidly or may not change in size.

Arm lumps due to local infectious causes may appear as boils, or abscesses. Many types of infections cause the lymph nodes to enlarge and feel like lumps, most commonly in the armpits. Traumatic causes of arm lumps range from bug bites to severe injuries that can produce a localized collection of blood in the tissues (hematoma).

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Both benign and malignant tumors of the skin, soft tissues, or bones of the arm can sometimes feel like lumps. In these cases, either a biopsy or surgical removal of the arm lump can determine whether cancer is present. Cysts, which are fluid-filled, sac-like structures that can form in various parts of the body, often feel like lumps. Some cysts may be present at birth, while others develop as a result of inflammation, tumors, or wear-and-tear over time.

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Conditions that produce inflammation throughout the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis (chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation), may be associated with arm lumps.

Lumps caused by infection, inflammation or trauma are usually temporary and subside as the underlying condition resolves. Lumps that persist or continue to grow over time may signal more serious conditions, such as tumors. If you have any lump that is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 8, 2016

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Medical References

  1. Skin rashes and other changes. FamilyDoctor.org. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/tools/symptom/545.html.
  2. Soft tissue tumors - benign. Cedars-Sinai. http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Soft-Tissue-Tumors---Benign.aspx.

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