The lymphatic system consists of capillaries, vessels and a yellowish liquid called lymph, which is a portion of blood plasma. It remains behind between body cells after plasma nourishes body cells with oxygen and nutrients, collects waste products from them such as dead cells and toxins, and reenters the blood circulatory system for cleansing.

Lymphatic vessels, usually, exist close to major blood vessels, and their primary job is to filter lymph. It takes place in lymphatic nodes, which are tiny oval clumps located in different areas of the body. Afferent lymphatic vessels carry unfiltered lymph into the nodes where lymphocytes kill all pathogens present after which efferent lymphatic vessels drain the filtered lymph from the nodes and send it back to the circulatory system.

Although lymph nodes are tiny in size, they tend to swell due to certain medical conditions, for example, tonsillitis. Cancer cells also travel through the lymphatic system and may cause lymph nodes to swell. When this happens, physicians may perform lymph fluid and tissue biopsies to establish the presence or extent of cancer in the body. Lymph nodes are mostly present on the neck, armpits, groin, and behind the knees. Do you want to learn how to check lymph nodes in the neck? If you do, keep reading.


  1. Tilt your head to one side to help relax the neck muscles.
  2. Then, press your index and middle fingers gently in front of the ear. Slide the fingers gently downwards towards the collarbone, or along the jaw line.
  3. Check both sides of the neck using circular finger movements and note any difference in size of the nodes.
  4. Hunch your shoulders and stretch your elbows forward to relax the skin around your neck.
  5. Then, trace two fingers above the collarbone for any protrusions.


  • Check for lymph node swellings at least once a month. Do not worry too much if you notice a swollen node but visit your doctor only if the swelling persists for over a month.
  • Visit a doctor if other symptoms such as chills, weight loss, night sweats and fever accompany the swollen lymph node.

Additional Information – Occipital Lymph Nodes

Related How To’s



Doctors, usually, check the patient’s lymph nodes for swellings to determine if a patient is in good health. However, since you now know how to check lymph nodes in the neck by yourself, you do not have to wait for your doctor to do it.