Which lymph nodes are swollen depends on the cause and the body parts involved. Swollen lymph nodes that appear suddenly and are painful are usually due to injury or infection. Slow, painless swelling may be due to cancer or a tumor.
Painful lymph nodes are generally a sign that your body is fighting an infection. The soreness usually goes away in a couple of days, without treatment. The lymph node may not return to its normal size for several weeks.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
Your lymph nodes do not get smaller after several weeks or they continue to get larger.
They are red and tender.
They feel hard, irregular, or fixed in place.
You have fever, night sweats, or unexplained weight loss.
Any node in a child is larger than 1 centimeter (a little less than half inch) in diameter.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider will perform a physical examination and ask about your medical history and symptoms. Examples of questions that may be asked include:
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.