Breast/Arm Pain and Swollen Lymph Nodes

Updated on July 01, 2009
L.N. asks from Nashville, TN
12 answers

I'll try and make this as short as possible for a rather long 'story'.

In December I began experiencing pain in my left breast that radiated down my arm. I made an appointment with my OB/GYN. I was breastfeeding at the time and she requested that I wait two months after I was done breastfeeding and then come back in if the pain had not gone away. In the meantime I had my annual appt. with my PCP and mentioned it to him as well. He had x-rays done with all negative results.
I followed up with my OB/GYN when the pain did not dissipate. She referred me to a breast specialist.
The first appointment I had with her she did an ultrasound but was unable to pinpoint anything specific. The follow up appointment 6 weeks later (the pain was continuing) she did another ultrasound and found a lymph node (almost under the arm pit) that concerned her and was definitely the pinpoint of the pain. I had a bilateral mammogram and ultrasound. The report was a suspicious lymph node in the left breast area. The doctor followed up with a biopsy, however, during the pre-biopsy ultrasound she noted a "line of lymph nodes" that now concerned her. Basically showing a growth of the issue.
The results (received today) of the biopsy were all benign (great news!), however, the lymph node(s) are now about quadruple, if not more, the size that original. So much so that I can lift my arm and see a very sizable lump on the very outer edge of my breast. It is also EXTREMELY painful.
The plan right now is that I am on a regimen of vitamins and anti-inflammatory drugs to see if we can calm things down. She said that I will follow up in 3 to 4 weeks, unless it continues to get worse and then she said that it will need to be surgically removed.
So, that is the background and I would like some thoughts, feedback, ideas. Anyone ever had anything similar, what are the ramifications of having a lymph node removed, etc.
Thank you so much in advance!!!

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So What Happened?

Well, the scoop as of now is not encouraging. I have been on hefty doses of vitamins and anti-inflammatory medication with no change in the node. It has actually grown and hardened in size and continues to be painful.
I did get all of my records and will be taking those to a second doctor for a second opinion. So, we'll see what happens. Thank you SO much for all of your thoughts, I greatly appreciate them and plan to run several thoughts by both doctors at my next appointments. Keep 'em coming! :o)

Featured Answers



answers from Charlotte on

Did they say anything about plugged ducts from breastfeeding? I've heard of that before, especially with those symptoms. Just a thought.

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answers from Greensboro on

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answers from Nashville on

The same thing happened to me. It started when I breastfed my child. I'm now 54 and have some benign lumps. I learned that if I wear a bra with wires it makes it worse. My bra has to be very soft especially without the "u" wire. Most of them now have this wire, but I always take it out.



answers from Louisville on

I had a friend who had a few lymph nodes in her neck get infected with a virus. It took forever for the swelling and pain to go away but they eventually did. She was tested for cancer and everything else and it was negative. Don't do anything drastic.



answers from Huntington on

Many of those type lumps are sensitive to caffeine. You do not mention your caffeine intake in your post, but if you do use caffeine in any form, I would suggest cutting it out. It will probably not affect the lumps you already have, they will probably need to be removed surgically, but helps slow their growth and prevent their spread.



answers from Raleigh on

I would definitely have a second opinion and/or biopsy. Just to be sure!!!!!



answers from Owensboro on


Did none of your doctors suggest that it could be from an infection ? I am surprised that they have not placed you on an antibiotic. Where I live at in Kentucky it is normal for antibiotics to be given when lymph nodes swell as swollen lymph nodes are normally a sign of an infection in the body. I remember when I was in college and took several classes in the medical field, before I changed majors, that I read swollen lymph nodes normally indicate infection somewhere in the body. Have you been checked for Lyme disease or Cat Scratch Fever. Both of these diseases can cause swollen lymph glands as well as other medical conditions. Before opting for surgery I would try to find out exactly what is causing the problem and see about antibiotics being given.

I had Cat Scratch Fever and it caused me to have lymph node swelling and I had to have surgery to remove the infection from the abscess. The lymph node was not removed. My brother who had Cat Scratch Fever and a great Aunt who also had it( she lives in California) had to have their lymph nodes removed because of the disease. Both of their lymph nodes were removed from under the arm pit. I stayed in the hospital for 3 days on 3 different intravenous antibiotics then was sent home on Clindamycin antibiotic. I stayed on Clindamycin for 3 months until the infection was out of my system.

I shall pray for you.




answers from Nashville on

I'm sorry to hear you are having so much pain with these lymphnodes. I don't have much experience myself with this but I did want to offer that I have a friend who just went through having lymph nodes surgycally removed from around her neck. She may be able to show some insight on the process on recovery. If you would like I can get you in touch with her email. Email me at [email protected] luck with everything!



answers from Memphis on

Lymph nodes can be removed without long term issue. My concern for you is that they haven't found out what is causing the lymph node to act this way. I have several family member that have had lymph nodes removed that they didn't figure out the cause either. My sister in law had the same issue in the area over under her arm. The main problem she had was it did take some time to recover and you can't overdo it while recovering. Hers were quite large before she had it done.



answers from Nashville on

Hey L.,
Something similar happened to my Mom about 30 years ago. The doctor gave her a super strong antibiotic, a white pill that required 1 every 12 hours, normally. She was told to take 1 every 8 hours, and it was gone in 5 days. Aggressive, strong antibiotics would be worth a try, much before surgery. They didnt be so quick to cut before. Good luck and God Bless.



answers from Raleigh on

My mom had several lymph nodes removed during her mastectomy for testing, 12 years ago. She continues to suffer lymphadema wherein the lymph nodes cannot properly drain the fluids out of her arm into her body. When she 'overuses' her arm, she must wear a compression stocking and go for physical therapy to manually push the fluids back into her body. Her arm often swells. I do not believe it is painful, but I'm not certain.



answers from Johnson City on

An RN I used to work with had this happen to her. She was on antibiotics for months and the Doc had her try to decrease her stress along with vitamins and anti inflammatory drugs. I wouldn't be too quick for surgery unless absolutely necessary since lymph edema is a possibility. Also no needle sticks or blood pressures can be taken in that arm and you have limited weight you can lift.