Hard non-visible lump under earlobe, behind jaw

Hey everyone! So for the longest time I’ve noticed a hard non-visible lump just behind/under my earlobe and behind my jawline. In between the mastoid bone and the jaw bone. Anyone with ES have this? I’m really worried it could possibly be a parotid tumor as that’s also a possibility. But I’m really hoping it’s just my styloid process poking against my nodes or something causing them to feel hard. I’m 24, male, exercise regularly. My symptoms are occasional pain on that side of the face/jaw area, tinnitus that will last for a few moments then go away, and some slight pain in my ear sometimes. Went to the doctors, they seem to be unconcerned but I mean when there’s a hard lump in my body, I’m going to panic a little. I have an ultrasound set for December 7th.

Also, something weird I noticed last night. While laying down on my right side (the side the hard lump is on), if I feel my left side below my ear while in this position, it also turns very hard and is identical in shape and feeling as my right side. But if I change positions, the left side goes back to being soft and movable again. Where as the right side, no matter the position it seems, will stay hard. So that’s why I think it’s possibly something to do with my anatomy causing my right side to be permanently like that no matter the position, and for my left side to change when I lay on my right side.

Is it possible it could be the styloid bones causing the hardness in that area? I’ve read of a few people whom that ended up being the case for and was hoping it was that rather than a parotid tumor. Looking forward to any replies, thank you!

Hi iJeax,

I had a similar situation on my right side. I could feel my left styloid just inside the curve of my jaw bone under my chin but not so w/ the right. I could feel the right one in exactly the location you’re describing. It would be worth it for you to request a CT scan w/ styloid protocol to have a look at your styloid processes & stylohyoid ligaments.

Your symptoms don’t sound too severe at this point thus surgery probably isn’t warranted but a CT scan would certainly alert you to whether or not you might be looking at something up & coming in the future.

Often doctors focus on the length of the styloid & specific symptoms to define ES but in the absence of excess length, a very thick, twisted, pointed &/or steeply angled styloid process can create ES symptoms. The normal styloid length is considered to be 2.54-3 cm although some doctors consider anything over 2.54 cm to be ES. Additionally calcification of the stylohyoid ligaments alone is also considered to be ES, & of course, so is the combination of the two.

Hi Isaiah!

You mention that you could feel your styloid under your chin? That’s not where I’m feeling it. I feel the hard lump literally right behind my earlobe, tucked in between my jawline and my mastoid. So it’s located behind my jaw where it meets my ear, not under the chin. Is that where you meant? Or are we talking about two different areas here.

If the ultrasound doesn’t show any kind of tumor (crossing my fingers it doesn’t), I will definitely push for a CT to check my styloids and see if that could be the culprit. Could you describe what your styloid feels like to you? To me, it feels smooth, hard, and if I push my finger into my neck underneath, I can feel under. I’m not sure if I’m actually feeling the bone itself though, or feeling something the bone is pushing into. Because it doesn’t feel bony or pointy, but it does feel hard. It’s kind of difficult to explain.

Thanks for your response!

We’re talking about 2 different areas. My right styloid could be felt where you’re talking about & my left could be felt under my jaw.

The part of my left styloid I could feel under my jaw was striated i.e. bumpy not smooth. The part I could feel below my earlobe was smooth & hard. You have to realize if you’re feeling your styloid process, you’ll be feeling only a small portion of it. The pointy part will be in your neck.

I’m attaching pictures of mine which doesn’t make it look like you’d be able to feel them externally at all, but I could & behind my tongue as well (on the left side only). The arrows are pointing at the bits of my stylohyoid ligaments that were calcified.

I have the same hard lumps on both sides!
Does anyone know if they go away after surgery?

Dr says CT scan does not show Elongated Styloid Process. Yet, I have text book symptoms. What else should I look for?

Oh okay, well it gives me a peace of mind that you could also feel a hard lump where I’m feeling mine. There’s not many explanations for a hard lump in that area other than a tumor and something like this. So obviously I was hoping others with ES also had a similar story to mine. Is the smooth & hard lump below your earlobe visible at all? Or is it under the skin like mine as well?

Hi iJeax
I have had a mass there in that same spot for several years now. When I literally wouldn’t take no for an answer while at my umteenth visit to my ENT, he finally felt it and instantly diagnosed me with ES. He says that is the tip of my styloid causing things to be swelled and irritated (right side). Left side is poking and irritating the left side of my cervical spine area, from the base of my skull all the way down to almost my trapizoid (sp). Thus I have MANY irritated nerves throughout my neck which causes me to be quite grumpy and in pain a good portion of the time. Just and FYI, it was thought to be something to do with my parotid when first trying to diagnose…2 scans came back clean except that my parotid was pretty much atrophied at that point (those scans were about 3 years ago). I’ve had problems with my right parotid for many years and many tests/scans later, nothing was found. Of course I now know that it has been the ES all this time! Best of luck to you. I will tell you like I have been telling all who will listen these days…a 3D panaramic done at a dental office will show the SPs and the ligaments if they are calcified. Either the radiologist that is reading all my scans doesn’t know what he is looking at or none of these things actually shows up on either CT or MRI

Hey kiZe,

What does your mass feel like? Is it visible? Non-Visible? Does it feel smooth? Can you run your finger down it and then push underneath it as well? Just wanting to see how similar it is to mine, thanks!

Firstly, not all doctors agree on what elongated is for the styloids- anything from 1.5cms-4cms, some doctors consider average! Also it’s not just the length, but the angle, width & whether they’re pointy as well. Also it needs to be checked if the stylo-hyoid ligaments are calcified . Lots of info & links in the Newbies Guide section if you have time to read it.

The mass feels about the size of a pecan at times and sometimes a bit smaller. It begins in the place you mention and I can trace it a bit upward and back toward my spine but I pretty much stop there because it is painful and makes me queasy. My PCP palpated it at my invitation so she could finally feel it and as she followed it and pressed harder, it seem to move which almost made me vomit. So, I am not sure if that is my SP or the ligament. When I kinda stretch my neck and lean/look to the left like I might be going to shave that area, you can see a lump there. I don’t think that particular area is anything to do with the parotid.

I think we might be talking about two different areas… You’re mentioning your spine? The area I’m talking about is literally on the side of my neck where my jawbone connects under my earlobe. The area I’m pressing on is literally underneath my earlobe. I uploaded a photo so you can see where I mean.

1 Like

Oops…just saw that Jules already gave you the info I posted so I’m deleting it.

1 Like

I’ve had both of my styloids removed but the area under my right earlobe is still a bit firm & sensitive to the touch. It is the exact area to which you are pointing in your picture. That is the area where I felt the hard spot & is also the area where I sustained some nerve damage to my parotid gland during my ES surgery. I also have First Bite Syndrome (somewhat common after surgeries in that part of the neck) which is the result of that damage. Even w/ the little bit of pain & numbness I still have in my face/neck surgery was the right course for me as I’m fully functional again. The pain & other symptoms I had from ES are about 95% gone.

I have pretty much no symptoms, the ones I do have are very minor and don’t last long and don’t happen very often. That’s what made me wonder if I had a parotid tumor or something. But even my softer side will also feel hard at times, it’s really strange and I don’t really know how to explain why that happens lol.

That area of our necks contains many tissues - vascular, tendinous, ligamentous, nervous, muscular & bony. Our bodies are truly in constant motion, & all those intricate parts move to both aid in our movement & to accommodate the many planes in which we move all while protecting themselves from damage. It’s not surprising that your firm areas come & go depending on the angle of your head & neck, arms & shoulders, etc.

That is exactly the area I am speaking of on my RIGHT side. The cervical spine area is where my LEFT side is impinging

I have this too. I haven’t been dx’d With ES, though I have all the symptoms. I have had both a CT and MRI and the hard “lump” behind my ear has never been identified by the radiologist as anything serious - indeed, it hasn’t been mentioned at all. I’ve taken heart in that. If it was something to be concerned about, they would’ve flagged it and if it was something and no one identified it, they’d be in trouble (malpractice?). BTW, I first began this odyssey in 2014! I figure what I have can’t be something entirely life threatening if I’m still here dealing with the same symptoms! Good luck.

Even normal length styloids that are exceptionally thick or oddly angled can cause ES symptoms. Additionally, the stylohyoid ligaments can cause ES symptoms (& thus ES) if they are calcified or partially calcified w/ normal length styloids.

I know you’ve been on this forum a long time & probably know all this but it might be worth it to revisit your 2014 CT scan (especially if you have 3D views you can look at) or get new ones to see if there have been any changes.

My lumps aren’t visible, I can only feel them. They are exactly the same spot ss you’re touching in your photo.