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Inflamed knot in armpit before menstrual cycle. Pain on touching. Lymph node or ingrown hair?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
Answered : 1579 Questions
I have a tiny knot in my arm pit, but it seems to get inflammed a few days before my menstrual cycle begins, and then by the end of my cycle it shrinks and just feels like a tiny knot. I'm assuming it's a lymph node. It all started several months ago after going for a XXXXXXX tissue massage, and the therapist pushed on my nodes in my arm pit so hard that I was in pain for a week. Shortly after, the aforementioned started happening... Not sure what type of doc to go see. First I thought maybe it was an ingrown hair, but seems odd that it all started after that massage, but not sure why leading up to my menstural cycle makes it hurt. It's very tender, and actually wakes me up at night if I'm sleeping on myside, and my arm is crushing my armpit against my side.
Posted Tue, 26 Jun 2012 in Women's Health
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 1 hour later
Thanks for posting your query.

The fact that the knot grows and then regresses in size before and after the menstrual cycles gives an indication that the knot is hormone related. During hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle, the growth may increase or decrease in size and this may also feel tender. Hence it does not look like a swollen lymph node.

From the symptoms that you have described, three possibilities need to be ruled out.

1)     Firstly, it can be an accessory breast tissue or supernumerary breast tissue which occurs in occurs in 2-6% of females and has no physiologic significance, but some may enlarge with the onset of puberty, pregnancy, or lactation, and can be the site of breast carcinoma.

2)     Second possibility is of any breast growth or malignancy which has to be ruled out for any growth breast on under the arms which has been present for some time and causing pain or lump. Breast cancer has to be ruled out irrespective of the age.

3)     Third possibility is of any lipoma which is a benign fatty tumor which can cause pain in the area when it presses on underlying nerves.

It does not look like an ingrown hair. To rule out these three possibilities you need to get a mammography which is a more sensitive test than an ultrasound done. If mammography comes positive then a FNAC (fine needle aspiration cyrtology) needs to be done. FNAC is aspiration of the material of the glands which is done by a fine gauge needle (22 or 25 gauge) and a syringe.

Treatment will depend on the diagnosis.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.
Wishing you good health.

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