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What causes left axillary pain radiating to arm,elbow and breast?

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Posted on Mon, 21 Jul 2014
Question: I have been experiencing left axillary pain with radiation of the pain down the underside of my left upper arm to my elbow and to the left breast upper outer quadrant. Pain worse when pressure is applied to left axilla. There is swelling of the area of pain. I had to lift a full container before the pain began, but did not feel anything at that time. At the present time even typing this entry is causing pain in my left axilla. Heat and NSAIDS have not helped.
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Answered by Dr. M Y Shareef (24 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Possibly a muscle strain, but have rule out others

Detailed Answer:
Hi XXXX! Good morning. I am Dr Shareef answering your query.

The history of lifting a heavy weight prior to the starting of pain signifies that there is a muscle pull/tear in the area, possibly resulting in minor ooze which showed itself as a swelling in the region. The radiation to the elbow and underside of left upper arm could be due a simultaneous stretching of the nerves going to the arm and forearm passing through the axilla.

If however I were your doctor, I would advise you to continue the anti inflammatory drug for a few days along with a proton pump inhibitor drug, and hot fomentation as you did already on your axilla. If the relief is slow, I would not hesitate to refer you to a physiotherapy department for a short wave diathermy and other as advised the team of physiotherapy.

Apart from the above, I would also advise you to go for a routine BP check up, a blood sugar, an ECG and ECHO to rule out any kind of cardiac origin for your pain and to consult a cardiologist in case of any such findings.

I hope this information would help you in discussing with your family physician/treating doctor in further management of your problem. Please do not hesitate to ask in case of any further doubts.

Thanks for choosing health care magic to clear doubts on your health problems. Wishing you an early recovery. Dr Shareef.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. M Y Shareef

General Surgeon

Practicing since :1979

Answered : 2457 Questions

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What causes left axillary pain radiating to arm,elbow and breast?

Brief Answer: Possibly a muscle strain, but have rule out others Detailed Answer: Hi XXXX! Good morning. I am Dr Shareef answering your query. The history of lifting a heavy weight prior to the starting of pain signifies that there is a muscle pull/tear in the area, possibly resulting in minor ooze which showed itself as a swelling in the region. The radiation to the elbow and underside of left upper arm could be due a simultaneous stretching of the nerves going to the arm and forearm passing through the axilla. If however I were your doctor, I would advise you to continue the anti inflammatory drug for a few days along with a proton pump inhibitor drug, and hot fomentation as you did already on your axilla. If the relief is slow, I would not hesitate to refer you to a physiotherapy department for a short wave diathermy and other as advised the team of physiotherapy. Apart from the above, I would also advise you to go for a routine BP check up, a blood sugar, an ECG and ECHO to rule out any kind of cardiac origin for your pain and to consult a cardiologist in case of any such findings. I hope this information would help you in discussing with your family physician/treating doctor in further management of your problem. Please do not hesitate to ask in case of any further doubts. Thanks for choosing health care magic to clear doubts on your health problems. Wishing you an early recovery. Dr Shareef.