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Date of last update: 10/12/2017.

Forum Name: Viral Infections

Question: Chest/Back pain w/ very swollen glands

 watermisbehaves - Thu May 17, 2007 2:33 pm

I greatly appreciate you're help. I am in severe pain and would appreciate any information you could provide on what it may be or what specialist to see. I have already seen a few regular doctors and they are only prescribing Norco. Thank you for your time. Here are my stats/issues:

23 year old female - not pregnant, not sexually active, no diseases. 290lbs.
Perfect blood pressure (usually 107-110/80)
Great cholesterol levels. Family history of high blood pressure and many different female cancers (breast and ovarian) and other cancers (brain and leukemia) in aunts and siblings.

Only pre-existing condition is PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) diagnosed in 2002.

From January to March 18th of this year I had a prolonged non-stop period. I resumed treatment for the PCOS - metformin and YAZ. I had previously stopped taking metformin over a year ago because of continual stomach upset. I saw my gyno 4 times from March to the 1st of May. My period ended after 2 weeks on Metformin and Yaz. However, at that time (early april), I began to notice severe breast tenderness. This was followed by several lumps or inflamed tissue in the breast. The lumps come and go and about 2 times a week the lumps are about an inch around and you can feel the easily and see them by just looking at my breasts. My gyno told me to take Evening Primrose Oil and said they were just inflamed from hormonal changes. I took 3,000 daily of the EPO and still I presented the same lumps. My breasts have also grown 1 whole cup size. They have become very very tender.

Now this past weekend (5/11/07) I began to have severe chest pains and difficulty breathing. I had been on metformin for 6 weeks at that point. The chest pain became extreme and I stopped taking the metformin fearing that it was the cause. The chest pains continues along with severe back pain (in the middle of the back about 3 inches below the shoulder blades).

Furthermore, over the past week and a half the breast pain has spread through my armpits and down my arms. It appears all of my lymph nodes are swollen. It hurts to raise my arms or turn my head. Below my collar bone is where it hurts the most.
And when I am not just suffering from this regular soreness and burning pain through my nodes, I get a gripping terrible pain between my breasts feels like my heart is being squeezed and I have difficulty breathing.

The pain became so bad on 5/15 that I went to the Emergency Room. They suspected a pulmonary embalism or heart attack and performed an EKG, Chest X-ray and Nuclear Chest Scan. All tests came back normal -- lungs "unremarkable" and perfect heart rhythm. They did a blood workup and found everything to be normal EXCEPT - raised Alkaline Phosphate at 124 H on a scale of 33-115 and High White Blood Cell Count of H14 on a scale of 4.2-11. Also, Absolute Neut of 8.8 on a scale of 1.8-7.7 and raised Absolute Mono of 1.1 on a scale of .03-,.09.

They diagnosed it as "Acute Chest Pain" and sent me home with Norco and Naproxen. Today 5/17/07 is the third day taking these medicines and I show no improvement. I still can not sleep. I am still doubled over in pain. I am constantly sore..I can feel pain with simple acts like washing my hair or raising an arm. And every 2 hours or less, I have SEVERE back and chest pain that makes it difficult to breath. I passed a kidney stone 4 years ago and the back pain I am suffering rivals the pain of kidney stones -- it is miserable.

I made an appointment this morning with a general practitioner and I have just arrived home from that meeting. He listened to my chest, checked my ear nose and throat, and poked me until I was crying on the table from him touching my chest. He said he agreed it was acute chest pain. He saw the lumps in my breasts and said I had poly-cystic breasts and that was the cause of the back pain. He said because my white blood cells are elevated I have an infection in my upper chest (collar bone area where the tenderness is the worst) and that I should take the norco and anti-inflammatories until it ends. He said I may end up taking these pills for up to a month. He could not explain why I developed a viral infection. He could not explain why I have constant pain marked with regular (every hour or two) of severe, gripping pain. He said if I have the pain in a month he would recommend a mammogram.

I am writing because I can not imagine this pain continuing for 1 more day let alone weeks on end. I have difficulty believing that someone with otherwise perfect health and perfect breast health has suddenly - simultaneously developed poly-cystic breasts and a random viral infection that is so severe is is affecting lymph nodes from my neck to my thighs -- such swelling and pain that I can neither sleep nor at times even catch my breath.

Quite simply, I am desperate to know what is wrong with me. I am worried for this lymph issue that is not localized to one area..I fear immune disorders like lupus. I of course -- given my extensive family history -- fear cancers. They are ruling out breast cancer because it is in both breasts, but it is my understanding some breast tissue cancers can present some uncommon symptoms. I understand I am not a doctor, which is why I appreciate any help you can provide about what this may be, what additional tests might help, and what sort of doctor/specialist would best help me. I am so scared -- I have had so many relatives die from a variety of cancers. I don't smoke. I don't drink. I don't even touch caffeine. I have been a vegetarian for 12 years. I make sure I stay fully hydrated and drink a minimum of 64oz of water each day.

I have never in my life experienced such severe pain. Thank you again for your time and your help
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Wed Jul 04, 2007 12:49 pm

User avatar I am sorry I did not reply sooner. I did not see your post until now. I do hope you are feeling better.

To start off, I think breast cancer is fairly unlikely, although there is a type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer that can spread quite quickly. It gets it name of inflammatory because it causes the breasts to become red and inflamed looking.

I would be more suspicious of an infection given your acute onset and severe pain. I would recommend you follow up with your doctor. Given your extreme situation, a trial of antibiotics may be indicated for mastitis. It may be viral but a bacterial infection is also possible.

Also, your doctor should be able to give you a stronger pain medicine if needed.

Best wishes.

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