There are many structures located within the neck, including the larynx, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, salivary glands, and lymph nodes. Therefore, a variety of common conditions exist that can affect the neck. Some of the causes of neck disorders are harmless, but others may be very serious so it is essential to seek medical care if symptoms develop.
Symptoms of neck disorders include:
- Thyroid and Parathyroid Disorder Located in the neck just below the larynx, the thyroid gland regulates your body’s energy levels and releases hormones that regulate your metabolism. Thyroid hormones influence virtually every organ system in the body, telling organs how fast or slow they should work. Thyroid hormones also regulate the consumption of oxygen and the production of heat.Thyroid surgery is used to treat a variety of thyroid conditions such as thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules, and hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland).The parathyroid glands are four small glands in the neck that are part of the endocrine system. They produce parathyroid hormone (PTH), which maintains calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood. The primary disease associated with the parathyroids is overproduction of PTH, known as hyperparathyroidism.
Although medication is available to treat hyperparathyroidism, surgery is most often recommended.
- Salivary Gland Disorder The salivary glands are found in and around the mouth and throat. The major salivary glands are the parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands. The parotid secretes saliva near the upper teeth, the submandibular from under the tongue, and the sublingual through the floor of the mouth. Additionally, many other minor salivary glands are located in the lips, inner cheeks, and throat. Saliva aids in digestion, oral lubrication and hygiene, and protection against tooth decay.The salivary glands may enlarge, causing a lump in the neck, for a variety of reasons. A salivary gland itself may be infected or cancerous, or a salivary duct may be blocked by a stone. The salivary glands also enlarge significantly when a patient has mumps.Disorders of the salivary glands can cause dry mouth, pain, swelling, and tenderness. Many salivary gland disorders may be caused by underlying conditions or illness.
- Abnormal Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes in the neck may enlarge for several reasons, including bacterial or viral infection or a local or systemic cancer.
- Benign and Malignant Masses A branchial cleft cyst, which is the result of a genetic condition, is a soft lump or drainage point on the neck or below the collarbone. This type of cyst or drainage point manifests itself during embryonic development, when the tissues in the affected area fail to develop normally. Branchial cleft cysts are not malignant.Branchial cleft cysts that do not cause any problems may require no treatment at all, whereas branchial cleft cysts that become infected may be treated with antibiotics. In most cases, treatment for a branchial cleft anomaly involves surgical removal to reduce the risk of infection and the development of an abscess.