Painful, swollen lymph nodes can have many causes, including various types of bacterial infections, viral infections, disorders of the immune system and several types of cancers, suggests WebMD. To determine the cause of painful lymph nodes, doctors must assess a patient's other symptoms.
Painful glands on the neck can lead to plenty of discomfort. The only way to treat them is to treat the underlying problem that has caused them to become swollen and sore. Any individual who is experiencing swollen and sore lymph nodes along with other symptoms such as a fever approaching or over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, difficulties breathing or swallowing, night sweats, or weight loss is advised to contact his doctor immediately. Another indicator that medical help is needed is if the skin over the swollen lymph nodes becomes red in color, says WebMD.
Other indicators that medical help may be needed include lymph nodes that become larger than an inch in size, are very painful to the touch, become very hard, or do not reduce in size for a period of a month or longer, notes WebMD.
In addition to the neck, common locations for swollen lymph nodes on the body include the armpits, the groin, the area under the jaw and the lower portion of the back of the head, reports WebMD. Because the tonsils are a kind of lymph tissue, certain illnesses such as tonsillitis can cause them to swell in much the same manner.