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What is a Nodule?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A nodule is a small mass of tissue which forms in or on the body, usually in response to injuries. Nodules are typically hard and they can be easily felt. For the most part, the masses are benign, requiring no medical action, but sometimes they can interfere with the function of the body, or they may be malignant. For this reason, people should consult a doctor if they notice a mass, so that the doctor can determine whether or not the issue needs to be addressed.

The term “nodule” comes from a Latin word meaning “knot.” These usually benign clusters of tissue often do feel sort of like knots, and in some cases, they can pull on the surrounding tissue in the area to make it feel tight or sore. In many cases, nodules on the inside of the body are discovered accidentally in the course of checking a patient for other problems, as a growth inside the body takes some time to become visible or palpable.

Tendons and muscles are both prone to developing nodules in response to injury, with masses appearing in areas like the vocal cords fairly frequently.These masses can also appear on the skin or in the layers of the skin, in which case they are usually very noticeable because they are visible. Organs, glands, and other parts of the body can also develop masses, as for instance in the case of thyroid nodules.

Upon examination, a nodule is often paler than the surrounding tissue. When palpated, the growth may feel hard or rubbery, and it is usually roughly spherical in shape. Often, multiple nodules form together in a cluster like a bunch of grapes, and they can vary in size but they generally remain quite small. The area around the mass may be red and inflamed, or it may appear normal, depending on the reason it formed, how large it is, and where it is.

If a doctor suspects that a mass may become a problem, he or she may recommend that the growth be removed. They can interfere with the function of part of the body, which is a good reason for removal, and people may also have nodules removed for aesthetic reasons. Removal may also be performed for the purpose of examining the mass to determine if it is malignant.

The development of a nodule is not an immediate cause for concern. A doctor will usually evaluate the growth and take a wait and see approach to see if it changes or grows larger. If the growth or the area around it becomes sore or painful, a doctor should be consulted.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon944662 — On Apr 08, 2014

My grandad had a nodule but he did something and got rid of it.

By anon270878 — On May 24, 2012

Does anybody have a clue as to how a nodule under the right armpit can be cured?

By anon217037 — On Sep 23, 2011

I went to the ER for chest pain and body pain to find out that I have a nodule on my lung. I was told that I should get checked again in six months to see if it is gone.

By anon113861 — On Sep 26, 2010

In order to remove nodules, regular exercises and frequent massaging over the area affected must be done. rotation of arms and breathing exercises must be done. don't eat potatoes, oily foods or spicy food. that would be enough.

By anon100672 — On Jul 31, 2010

the doctor has found a nodule near my thyroid gland, and i was told i might have to take a iodine test. is there any other way around this as i am not keen on doing this test at all? thanks. --anon 5214

By anon73901 — On Mar 29, 2010

i took my daughter to the er for lower back pain and they found an 7mm nodule on her lung. is this serious?

By anon65574 — On Feb 14, 2010

They found a 5mm nodule on my right lung accidentally. What is a nodule and is it serious?

By anon61747 — On Jan 22, 2010

i have nodules under my shoulder blades and under my arms near my right armpit. they are very painful. what should i do?

By anon43924 — On Sep 03, 2009

i have a nodule on the back of my head. i feel pain when press it. i also fell pain in it when i do some brain exercise.

By anon38301 — On Jul 25, 2009

I was put in the hospital with pneumonia. I am home now and had an x-ray taken to see if the pneumonia is gone. Results: The pneumonia is better but he sees a nodule in the lung area. What is a nodule and is it serious?

By anon36221 — On Jul 10, 2009

i have a nodule on my lung. it was found accidentally

By anon33318 — On Jun 04, 2009

I have 2 fatty nodules just under my chest on the upper abs equal distance apart. I also have them on my back. They hurt a little when I press on them slightly. I feel a tiny one on my middle stomach also. What really causes them?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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