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Having on and off swollen shoulder, pain in shoulder and breast. What are the possibility of having infection?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 2004
Answered : 189 Questions
I have had a swollen shoulder off and on for about 3 weeks. I think it my lymh nodes by my collar bone. On the side as my shoulder my breast also aches me. They really flare up when I drink any alcohol. These symtoms started two weeks after my hand mysteriously swelled up. The hospital gave me antibotics for the hand and I considering going back for the shoulder and breast.

I have taken 3 rounds of antibotics. I use a hot water bottle during the day to help with the pain and swelling. I have taken up to 800 mg of ibuprofen and still when I wake up the swelling in my shoulder is still there. I can't even move my arm some mornings. My hand has been better for weeks. Could this be something serious such as lymphoma or does this seem normal following the hand infection (which is a mystery because I never cut it or anything). Even if it (shoulder/collar swelling) goes away for a couple of days it comes back.

I did want to mention that when the lymph node began swelling, my hand was completely healed. I just don't know what it causing the current swelling since there are no other signs of infection. So I have one aching breast and a swollen lymph node in the collar area. Is it possible to have an infection still without any other symtoms other than a very painful shoulder
Posted Thu, 2 Aug 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Sathyadharan Panneer 47 minutes later
Thanks for writing in,
To answer your question; yes, we could be looking at a subtle infection in the breasts which could lead to this pain and swelling. This can be relieved by a course of oral antibiotics like amoxicillin- clavulanate. But typically, if we are looking at only an infection, it would not become worse with alcohol. Also, the swelling in the shoulder can be due to enlarged lymph nodes ( as a result of the infection) Pain worsening with alcohol can occur in many conditions including gout, hodgkin’s and other disorders.
At this stage, I would suggest you see your general physician and get a complete exam. A breast exam also needs to be specifically done. In addition, I would suggest that we look for enlarged lymph nodes.

Let me know if you need any more information
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Follow-up: Having on and off swollen shoulder, pain in shoulder and breast. What are the possibility of having infection? 5 hours later
if it was something serious like Hodgkin's would the lymph node come and go? With a disease like that, would antibiotics effect it at all? In my case, I take the antibiotics and the swelling goes down but a few days later the swelling goes right back up. The only thing that i can think of is the fact that I had a drink or two the night earlier before the swelling and pain. So what I'm trying to find out is "do you think that it is an mysterious infection that keeps reoccurring or something much more serious?"
Answered by Dr. Sathyadharan Panneer 13 hours later
Thanks for writing back.
I think there is some miscommunication here. I did not mean to say that you do have Hodgkin's. It only means that this is one of the cases where pain does get truly worse with alcohol.
However, the possibility of this being a coincidence also needs to be considered.
We could be looking at an infection but without a clinical exam and some tests, it would be impossible to rule other things like a malignancy out.
Its good that you are seeing your physician. Please let me know what he thinks of his exam and we can take this ahead.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Having on and off swollen shoulder, pain in shoulder and breast. What are the possibility of having infection? 35 hours later
I did go to the doctor and they ran a CBC and xray of the chest and a ct scan. Everything on the xray and the scan was normal but my ESR was high indicating inflamation thought out the body. He suggested that I look into a autoimmune specialist. Could the high inflamation still be cancer or comming from a GI related problem?
Answered by Dr. Sathyadharan Panneer 2 hours later

Thanks for writing back,

Erythrocyte sedimentation (ESR) is a non specific marker and high values are associated with active inflammation or infection. Some tumor activity somewhere in the body may also cause high ESR value; however as I have discussed in the previous replies I do not mean you have it.

Does the complete blood count (CBC) include peripheral smear study too? And was it CT-scan of chest or CT-scan of abdomen?

It would be helpful if you can post all your reports. I would then be able to relate better.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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