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DrRussMD, Board Certified Physician
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 64376
Experience:  Internal Medicine--practice all of internal medicine, all ages, family, health, prevention, complementary medicine, etc.
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I have pain in left armpit and arm. Why is this?

Customer Question

Pain in side of left breast, armpit, neck, back, and arm...please help.
For about 10 days now, I have had a dull ache in my left side. It started in my "armpit fat" and on my left side (anatomically, on the side of my left boob; but it feels more like my rib). On the first day, my pinky and ring finger on my left hand had this odd feeling when I touched the skin. It almost burned to the touch.
Since then, I've had the same dull ache, but it spreads to my breastbone (right under my left breast, to the left), my collarbone, and my shoulder. It does not hurt when I breathe deeply or sneeze.
I am wracking my brain trying to remember if I pulled or strained it with something heavy, but I'm pretty positive I didn't. What could this be? It's really starting to worry me. I have palpated the area almost every day - there are no lumps or swelling.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  DrRussMD replied 5 years ago.
Let me ask you so we can get a better idea of what is going on here:
Have you ever had any injuries?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No. I had an issue with sciatica about 5 months ago. My job required me to drive 2-3 hours a day. After I quit that job, my back felt normal after about a week.
And the sciatica was mostly felt on my right lower back and in my right leg.
Expert:  DrRussMD replied 5 years ago.
OK. You need to see a doctor, MD of physical medicine and rehabilitation. You are displaying symptoms of disc problems and nerve irritation and sciatica is lower spine.
The arm is neck or cervical spine and this can extend to the breast.
Of course you still need a baseline EKG, breast exam, etc..but this is an MD that can handle that too if not done already.
The PM&R doc is the best doc to do a hands on structural diagnosis. Also, to decide if you need an MRI, nerve conduction test [which he/she can do in the office] etc.
We call such a radiating pain a radiculopathy.
This does not sound like angina or heart pain..but an EKG is still warranted to be completely safe.
Use reply if you need to clarify.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Would this be related to the issues I had with my back before? With the sciatica? I know it's two different nerves - but are they related? It was a rough 6 months at that job - my back, while better, still isn't the same.
Right now, for instance - I feel like someone is standing on my left shoulder. (That may be a little exaggerated, but still - it hurts.) My whole left "quadrant" is in constant ache - shoulder, arm, armpit, sometimes in the underneath part of my arm under my elbow, my side near my breast, collarbone, and shoulder blade.
I have been worried that it was my heart, breast, or lungs - but none of it made sense. None of this felt like "chest pains"; the pain was never in my breast (just near it) and I just feel like I'm too young to have any serious lung issues. My anxiety began to get out of control.
Expert:  DrRussMD replied 5 years ago.
As I said, disc problems and they are rarely isolated to one level of the spine in the long run.
This can also be a problem in the shoulder..but an exam, as I have suggested by the right doc, will decide this.
It does not sound like heart, breast or lungs but they all need to be examined.
Anxiety also makes this type of thing worse.
Use reply if you need to clarify.