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Thursday, November 15, 2012 creative66, Community Member, asks

Q: Extreme pain in armpit for the last month

I've had extreme pain in armpit and arm for the last month. I had surgery in 2010 to remove a lipoma in that area and cancer was not found. In November 2011, the lumps came back and I had an ultrasound and mammogram in Jaunary 2012. They came back normal; they said it was fatty tissue. I felt more lumps and in May 2012 had another ultrasound at a different facility. I'd breast implants put in. My arm has been hurting on and off since the lumps came back, but this last month they are really hurting! Now I am freaking out thinking I have cancer! I am sitting here in pain and having an anxiety attack about this thing.

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Answers (2)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
11/15/12 8:58pm

Hi - Take some deep breaths and try not to panic, OK? What you describe doesn't sound at all like breast cancer symptoms. You've had both a mammogram and ultrasound that were normal; that should give you some comfort that this isn't cancer you're dealing with, but something else.

When you have multiple lumps in your breast, that's often a sign of fibrocystic change, which is fairly common in younger women. It can be quite painful, as oftentimes cysts develop, and as they enlarge they can press on nerves. And this does sound like a nerve issue, with pain traveling down your arm. It could very well be that your implant is positioned so it's pressing on a nerve, too. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do at this point beyond work with meds to try to alleviate the pain. Has your doctor prescribed anything yet? If not, make sure to let him/her know how much discomfort you're experiencing, and that you need some relief.

 Again, please try not to stress; pain in the armpit, and traveling down the arm, isn't a typical breast cancer symptom. In fact, breast cancer is usually painless. And remember, you've had screening that's come back normal. Please read our post on fear as you wait for your appointments; I think it might help you. Take care - PJH

P.S.  Here are some other links that might be helpful for you:

Can Olive Oil Help Prevent Breast Cancer?

10 Breast Cancer Myths Debunked


creative66, Community Member
11/16/12 3:04pm



Thanks for your response!


I am almost 46 years old. Thanks for your support. You made me feel much better about this. But its the same pain as before the implants. The implants aren't even that big. From this pain it feels like I have a bruise on my elbow. Its weird. My doctor was saying oh certain times of the month but this has been a month allready so its not period related. I even had an x-ray on my elbow a few weeks ago thinking I have cancer and it spread to my elbow. The dr. said no cancer in that elbow. I don't even believe him, sad aren't I. I will definitely look at the post- "fear" to calm me down.





creative66, Community Member
11/16/12 3:06pm

wear is the "fear" link?



PJ Hamel, Health Guide
11/16/12 8:58pm

Sorry, those links are sometimes hard to see. Click on this word: fear. That will bring you to it.


The pain in your elbow, to me, would definitely signal a nerve issue. Or, one more thought - it's a long shot, but if this is all on the left side, you might consider some testing for a possible cardiac issue... Best of luck to you. PJH

Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
11/17/12 7:28am

I also had to have a lipoma (fatty tumor) removed from my arm.  Because I was just a couple of years out from a diagnosis of aggressive Stage IIIB inflammatory breast cancer, the surgeon said that it needed to come out even though he was pretty sure that it was just a harmless lipoma.  In reading about lipomas at that time, I learned that some people will have multiple lipomas once they have had one.  Usually when a situation with multiple lipomas exists, doctors do not keep operating.  They are really confident at that point that they are dealing with lipomas and they don't want to create more scar tissue if it is not necessary.


It could be that one or more of the new lipomas are pressing on a nerve or displacing muscle in a painful way.  Because the pain is extreme and has lasted a month, having more surgery to remove the new lipomas might be the route to go. The implant might have shifted in a way that causes this pain.  As PJ mentions, you need to ask questions about your heart since this is pain radiating down your left arm.  Researchers are learning that women's symptoms of cardiac problems are often different than the textbook descriptions, which had been based on men's symptoms.  


We are not doctors here, so your doctors are the best people to advise the right course.  It sounds like right now you are having trouble finding a doctor to take your pain seriously.  Your regular doctor may take it more seriously now that it has continued longer than a menstrual cycle, or you may have to find a new doctor.  But continue to be assertive to find out that cause of your pain.  I don't think it will be breast cancer related, but you want to investigate every possibility.

creative66, Community Member
11/18/12 1:33pm

Hi everyone, thanks for your input. I doubt it cardiac only because right before I had my implants done I had an EKG that was required before going under general anesthesia. I am also a fitness instructor and a personal trainer and Im in good shape. I teach several high impact classes per week.

This also started about 3 or 4 weeks before the implants so its the same pain as before the implants so I don't think its the implants.

I also have a 2nd opinion from another breast surgeon in dec to be on the safe side. I don't feel like having surgery again but I might have to. EEeesh.

The elbow is weird though and its still freaking me out.  I know with my job I physically do a lot so I probably overdid it but I haven't been teaching because of my implants surgery and the hurricane in almost 3 weeks. I would think if I pulled a muscle it would be better by now. Unless I tore something!n I may have to see an orthopedist too now.  I still think something in the armpit is giving me this pain. It stinks because its affecting my job. I'm supposed to go back to teaching in another week. I'll probably just have to walk around and tell them what to do and not lift any weights plus, I probably still won't be able to lift heavier weights yet from my breast implant surgery and don't want to because my arm hurts anyway.

I really appreciate everyones input it helps.

PJ Hamel, Health Guide
11/18/12 3:02pm

Glad you're feeling a bit less anxious. I hope you can get back into your full routine soon - it's tough when a health challenge derails your work, as well as your personal well-being. While it does seem coincidental, it could very well be that your elbow pain is completely unrelated to your other symptoms; so if this necxt appointment doesn't yield any solid answers, it might be time to see an orthopedist. Good luck - PJH

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By creative66, Community Member— Last Modified: 07/20/14, First Published: 11/15/12