Read below about shoulder bump, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your shoulder bump from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Shoulder Bump Symptoms

The shoulder is a very mobile and vulnerable joint. It consists of the shoulder blade (scapula), the collarbone (clavicle) and the bone of the upper arm (humerus). The head of the humerus sits in a socket of the scapula called the glenoid. There is a ring of tissue that surrounds the glenoid socket (labrum) that keeps all of these pieces in place. A shoulder bump is often associated with trauma or injury to this delicate system and may present with the following characteristics.

Characteristics

Symptoms you may also experience include:

A shoulder bump may signal a serious underlying issue and requires prompt medical attention. Make an appointment with a healthcare professional if you notice any of the above symptoms.

Shoulder Bump Causes Overview

Though shoulder bumps are usually associated with traumatic events, there are many other potential causes for bumps and its associated symptoms. The causes of shoulder bumps can be grouped into the following categories:

Traumatic

Traumatic causes of shoulder bumps may include the following [2].

  • Fracture: Any activities that cause direct trauma to the shoulder area can result in a fracture that causes a shoulder bump and its associated symptoms. Traumatic injuries include falling on an outstretched arm or a direct blow to the shoulder that results from a motor vehicle accident or even falling from a bicycle.
  • Dislocation/Separation: These can also occur in the setting of traumatic events but usually do not involve any broken bones. Often the ligaments that hold the different parts of the shoulder are stretched or injured or the humerus may pop out of the socket that holds the shoulder in place.

Inflammatory

Inflammatory or rheumatologic causes include conditions involving the body's tissues and joints that can affect people of all ages but most commonly affects older adults. Conditions such as arthritis cause inflammation that easily brings fluid into the tissues leading to swelling, redness, and tenderness in the joints in addition to the appearance of large bumps or nodules in the shoulder and hands. Other inflammatory conditions of the joints such as bursitis can also result in swollen bumps in the shoulder [3,4].

Cancerous

New lumps and bumps on the body are also concerning since they can be the initial sign of a cancerous process. However, there are signs and symptoms that are reassuring. A shoulder bump may be less concerning if it is soft and easily mobile; however, a shoulder lump that grows in size over time or changes in color or one that is hard, rigid or stuck in place should be followed up promptly. Cancerous growth, also called tumors, arise when cells divide and grow uncontrollably. There is either a genetic mutation in DNA or a specific protein or failure in an important checkpoint that results in this rapid growth. When the cells begin to invade other parts of the body, the tumor becomes malignant.

Environmental

An insect bite from any insect — mosquito, spider, flea, etc. — can cause a bump that swells and may be itchy and painful.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Shoulder Bump

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced shoulder bump. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Lipoma

    A lipoma is a noncancerous growth of fatty tissue cells. A lipoma can develop in almost any organ of the body although they are most commonly found in the subcutaneous layer just below the skin.

    Resolves with treatment

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    skin-colored groin bump, marble sized groin lump, small groin lump
    Symptoms that always occur with lipoma:
    skin-colored groin bump
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch
  2. 2.Skin Cyst

    An epidermoid cyst is a closed sac under the skin filled with a cheese-like or oily material. It is caused by trauma or surgery.

    Resolves with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    skin-colored armpit bump, marble sized armpit lump, small armpit lump
    Symptoms that always occur with skin cyst:
    skin-colored armpit bump
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch
  3. 3.Skin Abscess

    A skin abscess is an infection of the deeper skin that's typically due to bacteria seen on the skin. Recently, infections are more frequently caused by Staph. Aureus (puts the "staph" in "staph infections"), which is dangerous and requires treatment.

    Good prognosis with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    rash with bumps or blisters, red rash, red skin bump larger than 1/2 cm in diameter, pus-filled rash, rash
    Symptoms that always occur with skin abscess:
    rash with bumps or blisters
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Basal Cell Carcinoma

    Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing form of skin cancer. Skin cancer falls into two major groups: Non-melanoma and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is a type of non-melanoma skin cancer.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    facial skin changes, pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painless facial bump, growing facial lump
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Shoulder Bump Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having shoulder bump.

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  5. 5.Pimple

    Acne, also known as pimples, occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil & dead skin cells. Acne is extremely common and ranges from mild to severe.

    The severity of the acne dictates treatment-type and duration. With proper treatment, acne should resolve in weeks to months. In some cases, acne is a long-term condition.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painful facial bump, marble sized facial lump
    Symptoms that always occur with pimple:
    pink or red facial bump
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  6. 6.Wart

    Warts are non-serious skin growths caused by a virus that infects the top layer of the skin. They are contagious. Thus, warts on the face are often spread there by the hands, and vice versa.

    78% go away in 2 years

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    small facial lump, painless facial bump, skin-colored facial bump, scaly facial bump
    Symptoms that never occur with wart:
    headache
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  7. 7.Melanoma

    Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole. Most melanomas have a black or black-blue area. Melanoma may also appear as a new mole. It may be black, abnormal, or "ugly looking."

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    brown-colored skin changes, atypical features of a facial bump, black-colored skin changes, growing facial lump, large facial lump
    Symptoms that always occur with melanoma:
    atypical features of a facial bump
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Atypical Mole

    Moles are growths on the skin. They happen when pigment cells in the skin, called melanocytes, grow in clusters. Certain moles are considered "atypical" because of their size and characteristics, which require careful watching and possibly even biopsy in order to monitor for development into cancer.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    severe abdominal lump, brown-colored skin changes, moderate abdominal lump, atypical abdominal bump features, growing abdominal bump
    Symptoms that always occur with atypical mole:
    black or brown abdominal bump, atypical abdominal bump features
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Shoulder Bump Treatments and Relief

If you experience a shoulder bump or any of these associated symptoms, make an appointment with your physician to get appropriate treatment. Depending on the diagnosis, your physician may suggest:

  • Repositioning: If your shoulder bump is due to a dislocation injury, your physician may first attempt to reposition the upper arm back into the shoulder socket. You may also be given a muscle relaxant or sedative before the bones are manipulated depending on the extent of pain and swelling.
  • Immobilization (sling): Your physician may use a sling to keep your shoulder from moving. You may have to wear the sling anywhere from days to weeks depending on the severity of the shoulder dislocation and how soon you received medical care.
  • Physical therapy or rehabilitation: Your physician may prescribe stretching exercises or a physical therapy/rehabilitation program to help you restore range of motion, strength, and stability to your shoulder, especially after injury.
  • Rheumatologic medications: There are many different types of medications that combat rheumatologic conditions that may be causing your swollen shoulder. Talk to your physicianto determine the best type of treatment for you.
  • Cancer treatment: If your symptoms are due to a cancerous process, your physician will suggest therapies that include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or combinations of the three.

FAQs About Shoulder Bump

Here are some frequently asked questions about shoulder bump.

What is the difference between a shoulder separation and shoulder dislocation?

Even though they both might present with pain and a visible bump or deformity of the shoulder, shoulder separations and dislocations are different in the anatomy of the problem. A shoulder dislocation occurs when the connection between the humerus and the ball and socket joint of the shoulder (glenoid) become unstable or "pops out" [5]. A shoulder separation involves injury or separation of the ligaments that stabilize the shoulder joint [6].

How long will the shoulder bump last?

The duration of your symptoms will depend on the specific cause. For example, shoulder bumps associated with traumatic injuries are usually the result of localized swelling that can quickly resolve, especially with proper treatment. On the other hand, bumps due to inflammatory or cancerous causes may be chronic.

What is a lipoma on the shoulder?

A lipoma is a benign tumor composed of fatty tissue. Since fat tissue can be found all over the body, lipomas can appear in multiple locations including the shoulder, upper back, arms, and upper thighs. They are reassuring in appearance and presentation as they are usually small, painless, mobile and located superficially beneath the skin.

How do you tell if you have a separated shoulder?

A separated shoulder may present with symptoms such as a visible bump in the area, pain, arm weakness, bruising or limited shoulder movement. A trained healthcare professional will be able to make the definitive diagnosis as to whether your symptoms are caused by a separation, dislocation, fracture, etc.

Does a cancerous tumor on my shoulder hurt?

Most growths on the body due to an underlying cancerous process are often painless. However, if you experience pain with symptoms associated with unexplained/unintentional weight loss, fatigue, and unexplained fevers, make an appointment with your healthcare provider promptly.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Shoulder Bump

  • Q.What color is the bump?
  • Q.Do you purposely tan (using sun, tanning beds, or UV rays)?
  • Q.Has anyone in your family had cancer?
  • Q.Is your bump painful to touch?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our shoulder bump symptom checker to find out more.

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Shoulder Bump Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced shoulder bump have also experienced:

    • 25% Pain in One Shoulder
    • 4% Shoulder Pain
    • 4% Pain in One Shoulder Blade
  • People who have experienced shoulder bump had symptoms persist for:

    • 43% Over a Month
    • 24% Less Than a Week
    • 13% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced shoulder bump were most often matched with:

    • 100% Skin Abscess
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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References

  1. Separated Shoulder. Mayo Clinic. Published November 22, 2016. Mayo Clinic Link
  2. Shoulder Trauma (Fractures and Dislocations). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: OrthoInfo. Updated September 2007. OrthoInfo Link
  3. Mayo Clinic. Published August 12, 2017. Mayo Clinic Link
  4. Bursitis of the Shoulder. Cedars-Sinai. Cedars-Sinai Link
  5. Cutts S, Prempeh M, Drew S. Anterior Shoulder Dislocation. Annals The Royal College of Surgeons of England. 2009;91(1):2-7. NCBI Link
  6. Dislocated Shoulder. Mayo Clinic. Published August 3, 2018. Mayo Clinic Link
  7. Cordasco FA. Should Separation and Dislocation: An Overview. HSS. Updated November 20, 2009. HHS Link