What does it mean to have random knots to pop up in the back of the head or behind the ear? And they are sore?

Not Medical Advice: If you mean knots as "swollen glands" (lymph nodes) or "lumps" on either side of the neck, under the jaw, or behind the ears, the common cause is cold or sore throat.

It usually occurs as a result of exposure to bacteria or viruses. Lymph glands play a vital role in your body's ability to fight off viruses, bacteria and other causes of illnesses.

Other possible causes of swollen lymph nodes include:

Common infections:

  • Strep throat
  • Measles
  • Ear infections
  • Infected (abscessed) tooth
  • Mononucleosis
  • Skin or wound infections, such as cellulitis or erysipelas
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) — the virus that causes AIDS

(Uncommon infections):

  • Tuberculosis
  • Certain sex transmitted infections, such as syphilis
  • Toxoplasmosis — a parasitic infection resulting from contact with the feces of an infected cat or eating undercooked meat
  • Cat scratch fever — a bacterial infection from a cat scratch or bite

Immune system disorders:

  • Lupus — a chronic inflammatory disease that can target your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart and lungs
  • Rheumatoid arthritis — a chronic inflammatory disease that targets the tissue that lines your joints (synovium)


  • Lymphoma — cancer that originates in your lymphatic system
  • Leukemia — cancer of your body's blood-forming tissue, including your bone marrow and lymphatic system
  • Other cancers that have spread (metastasized) to lymph nodes

The lymphatic system is made up of glands, lymph nodes, the spleen, thymus gland and tonsils. It bathes our body’s cells and carries the body’s cellular sewage away from the tissues to the blood, where it can be filtered by two of the body’s main detoxification organs: the liver and kidneys.

Check out some tips on how to boost your lymphatic system for great health at Care2.com.