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Avatar universal

severe, recurrent pain in right armpit

OK, here we go... I have been having pain in my right armpit off-and-on for a over a year. I originally had the pain concurrent with swollen lymph nodes, dizziness, nausea which led to being treated for a suspected inner ear infection. Took antibiotics, it cleared up.
A few weeks later, the pain returned- so intense I couldn't put my arm down to my side. Another visit to my PCP, there was no lumpiness, redness or anything like that. They did nothing, told me to follow up if it didn't improve. It subsided to tolerable- but not gone- pain

A few weeks after that, excruciating pain, another visit to PCP. This time, I did have a pustule and was treated for staph cellulitis. The doc didn't lance it, but I took the full course of antibiotics. It cleared up for a few weeks, then came back. My PCP ordered some labs to check my white blood cell count and sent me out w/ a (preemptive) script for stronger antibiotics, suspecting MRSA. Labs came back clean, but I took the antibiotics just in case.
(Worth noting: In between the 2 courses of antibiotics, I'd discovered my roomate had been drip drying the toilet brush in the shower caddy, on top of my razor. Gross. So I moved. And quit shaving. Double gross.)
Since bloodwork came back OK, I was then sent for an ultrasound- while I wasn't experiencing any symptoms- and that came back clear, too.

After months of this back and forth, I got a new PCP for some fresh eyes on the problem. She suspected hydradenitis suppurativa and referred me to a surgeon for gland stripping and/or exploratory surgery.
I saw the surgeon 2 weeks ago, he didn't see any redness, swelling, signs of infection, anything, and by the time I got in there the pain had subsided to uncomfortable-but-tolerable again. He refused any surgical procedure and told me if the pain or swelling came back to call and he'd see me immediately. A big part of the problem is that when I have symptoms I call the doc, but by the time they get me in, it's gotten better. He also recommended I get a mammogram next year, (I'm only 39 now, so screening will be hard to get covered by insurance, I guess?)

Yesterday, the pain came back- the worst it's been yet- so I called the surgeon. He wasn't in, so I was referred to the ER. I went to the ER and was seen by 3 different docs. Pain, but no redness, no lumpiness, not hot to the touch- but to my eyes, my entire armpit area is swollen. The left one is concave- a "pit" and the right is not rounded, exactly, but certainly not a "pit." One of the ER docs did say that due to no cysts or redness (since the staph infection) that hydradenitis should be ruled out, and didn't feel glands or nodes were the issue, either- as there are no lumps.

So, I know this is getting epic, but I'm trying to put together over a year's worth of symptoms and flare-ups.  
-I was definitely exposed to the nastiest of germs with the toilet brush thing, but staph infection was cleared up, and no evidence of MRSA. But since this started, any time I've had any other infection, (common cold, abscessed tooth, bronchitis) my armpit flares up, too. But it also sometimes flares when everything else seems OK.
-I've been suffering from anxiety since all this started, so I'm sweating quite a lot more than normal- not just underarms but palms, feet, etc. I see a therapist and take clonazepam PRN, for what it's worth.
-I quit shaving my armpits, and I've switched deodorants every time this has flared. I would stop using it altogether, but between the profuse sweating and not shaving- no.
-I threw out all of my underwire bras because they are an agony, and I have only been wearing cotton sports bras and loose,  breathable clothing.
-I try not to do heavy lifting with my right arm, but am limited to using it more than I'd like because I injured my left wrist/elbow (lateral epichondylitis) 2 months ago while trying to not use the right side. (what a nightmare!)
-I did break my ankle a year and a half ago and was on crutches for a few weeks, but I think they ruled out crutch palsy as it was months between discontinuation of crutches and onset of underarm pain.
-I do occasionally get numbness/tingling radiating down my arm, into my shoulder and/or in my right ribcage area, but I feel like that's from having to keep my hand on my hip, not being able to put my arm down to my side.
-I have no family history of breast cancer or lymphoma, but at 31 I did have malignant melanoma on my shoulder- inches away from lymph nodes, but on the opposing side. It was in situ and completely excised, so lymph nodes were never biopsied. (I've since had 12 pre-cancerous and 2 benign moles removed).

I think I've covered everything/written my first novel. Any ideas? Can somebody please help me? At the very least, I need to be pointed in the right direction. I don't even know what kind of doc to ask for the next referral to.

Thanks for your time!
7 Responses
Avatar universal
I am someone who suffers from chronic cellulitis and foliculitis and know this pain well.

Warm moist compresses help ease discomfort for me as well as using only 100% pure glycerin soaps (no colors or scents) and cleaning any areas that look like they are starting to flare with hibiclens (a medical grade cleanser).

I hope this helps a little
351246 tn?1379685732
Pain in the armpit without a lump can be due to heat intolerance and due to sweat dermatitis. It is also possible due to peripheral artery disease. Peripheral neuropathies as in diabetes, chemical burns due to any deo or lotions you use, peripheral nerve compression are the other possibilities. It can even be a referred pain from breast due to fibroadenosis. Just check and see if the pain in worse in certain times of your menstrual cycle.These possibilities should be looked into. Since a confirmed diagnosis cannot be given on net please discuss these possibilities with your PCP. Hope this helps. Take care!

The medical advice given should not be considered a substitute for medical care provided by a doctor who can examine you. The advice may not be completely correct for you as the doctor cannot examine you and does not know your complete medical history. Hence this reply to your post should only be considered as a guiding line and you must consult your doctor at the earliest for your medical problem.
1326416 tn?1370930601
try and hang in there. i know it must be very frustrating not having a diagnosis after all this time. Keep on being a "squeaky wheel', and hopefully someone will figure out what's causing your problems. good luck,
Avatar universal
I had a MRI due to palpative lump in right axilla which caused pain and feeling of fullness and right shoulder pain that radiated to neck and to bicep and thumb and forefinger, then if that was not enough I developed nonhealing scalp lesions that burned and caused stabbing sharp pains to the area of scalp the lesions of scalp were biopsied 1st time "lichen planus" which at the same time a open excision biopsy of the right axilla was performed to send lymph tissue to pathology but the trauma surgeon attempted 2 times and the lymph nodes disintegrated upon trying to dissect or get a sample to send to pathology and the surgeon did not know why and what is odd is I am left with 2 dime size dark gray colored bruise like spots in the axilla. I then went out of state and my right pain was unbearable that Percocet did not help the ortho found that my shoulder was out of the socket, I had surgery with 4 metal anchors placed, a SLAP 2 repair,Bankart repair with extensive debredment and other stuff, he said that the shoulder was so damaged that the tendons were stretched that he could flip them like a pancake and the my ,bicep was a mess. I also want to state I have Livedo Reicularis with it covering my entire body which he told me was from the pain, after surgery for 1 week the livedo disappeared and my mind felt normal like it had not for a decade but as soon as the Marcaine pump that was in the subacromial space was removed my pain and Livedo returned. I am in my original home state and I can not get adequate health care or pain management. I am fed up with the state of some of the providers that allow patients to suffer . and what options do we have .. I would love to hear from a doctor.
1326416 tn?1370930601
When you "piggyback" onto someone else's post it tends to mess things up, and your question might not even be answered, or even be seen by most of the community. It would be easiest to just copy and paste your question and post it by itself, just like all the other questions are. Chances are   Dr. Kokil Mathur didn't even see this because she already answered this person's question and moved on to others from there. You could also try sending the question to her inbox, if your only interested with her advice.
Avatar universal
hello pappygal and i am sorry you are having so much trouble but you pretty much said it all for us with "what options do we have"  and "i am fed up" with the sorry state of "some of the providers". Very fair statement. Some of us. So true. Thank you for posting pappygal---- i hope you get some help soon hon. "My mind felt normal" and it will again. Please feel free to keep posting where-ever and when-ever the inspiration is there for you. We can figure it out from there. I am glad you found Mh---keep looking around at all the different places available to help you. Doctor forums----even a chronic pain couch where you can just relax and post away about anything at all pappygal. If you are over fifty try getting older place?  Look around.....omhome

1326416 tn?1370930601
It's been almost 3 weeks since you were here, so I guess it really doesn't matter...
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