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How to relieve lymph node pain

Updated April 17, 2017

The lymphatic system is your body's defence system against infection and disease. The system transports a special fluid called lymph throughout the body. All 600 or so lymph nodes are hubs for immune system function. When your body has a need to combat an infection, lymph nodes enlarge. This enlargement may cause pain. Understanding what has caused the pain is important for treatment. It could be infection, disease, tooth problems, insect bites, injury or chronic fatigue syndrome, according to Native Remedies.com. If the pain and swelling do not resolve within several days, consult a medical professional for a complete diagnosis.

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  1. Take appropriate medication. Mayo Clinic recommends that adults take a pain reliever like aspirin (over the counter) to relieve symptoms. This is not advised for children. If you suspect that the infection may be bacterial, then an antibiotic may be needed to completely clear the cause. If the inflammation is the source of the pain, your doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory. Pain relievers will manage symptoms, but not address the cause of the pain.

  2. Apply a warm compress to the painful area. The lymph nodes in your neck, armpits and groin are most prominent and are often the culprits. You can soak a washcloth in hot water, wring out excess water and apply to the lymph nodes that hurt. Re-soak the washcloth when it begins to cool off. Apply the compress until the pain subsides. Repeat the process as needed.

  3. Get a lymph drainage therapy treatment. Massage therapy can stimulate the lymphatic system. Since this system has no natural pump, certain techniques can get lymph and toxins moving instead of remaining stagnant. Those with chronic painful lymph nodes due to lymphedema can benefit from these techniques. According to massagetherapy.com, pregnancy, breast tissue engorgement, breast cancer and even eczema, causing lymph node tenderness, might be relieved with lymph drainage therapy massage. Learn self-massage techniques if you would like to use this treatment regularly.

  4. Slow down and rest. Swollen and painful glands mean your body is taking care of an infection. Getting enough rest will aid your immune system. If you do too much, an infection can linger or progressively get worse.

  5. Tip

    Those with lymphatic congestion may benefit from bouncing on a mini-trampoline to move lymph through the body, according to Healing Daily's website.


    Although painful glands are often the result of an infection, it never hurts to get checked out by a medical professional to find out if the cause is more serious.

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Things You'll Need

  • Over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Washcloth

About the Author

Vanessa Newman

Based in Colorado Springs, Vanessa Newman writes for "Women's Edition" magazine and has been published in "Rocky Mountain Sports," "IDEA" magazine and "The Teaching Professor." She has been writing professionally for over 10 years and holds a master's degree in sports medicine. She has written online courses for companies such as Anheuser-Busch and Chevron, but prefers creative writing.

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