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Radiology/chronic, severe, sharp pain in left elbow


QUESTION: I have decided to ask the question a 2nd time because as I was looking for info online, I discovered that pain in the elbow such as bursitis can be due to an infection in the lymph nodes under the arm.  I have severe, sharp and intense pain along the outside of my left elbow which the radiologist thinks is due to bursitis.  There is also a small joint epicondylitis noted.  I also have oa (oseteo arthritis) as well as DDD and DJD (degenertative disk and joint disease).  But in addition to all of that about 4 years ago, I had 2 lumpectomies done on my left breast due to cancer.  They also took out a lymph node to make sure that the cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes in my left arm which they had not.  So, I am now wondering if the pain in my left elbow might be due to an infection in my lymph nodes in my left arm.  What do you think???  Thanks for your help.


I think the pain in the elbow is highly unlikely to be due to lymph nodes in ther arm, arm pit. The opposite can be true - lymph nodes in your arm pit or upper arm may be due to infection in your elbow.  If you have fluid around elbow joint and OA then I think bursitis is a more likely choice.
Usually, surgeons would remove lymph nodes in the axilla if they are concerned for spread of cancer.  Do you feel any lumps in your arm pit? are you running a fever? is the skin over the elbow or your upper arm red or swollen?  If the answer is No to all of these questions then I would not be overly concerned. If the answer to some of them is yes then you should definitely see a physician to better examine you and make appropriate recommendations.

Hope this helps.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I was thinking of having the fluid in the bursa of the elbow aspirated to see if there is any infection and if not, then get a cortisone shot in the bursa.  I'm also thinking about laser therapy on the elbow.  As I am typing this I still struggle with acute, sharp pain.  What would you suggest as treatment if it is indeed bursitis of the elbow?

Unfortunately, the treatment plan would be out of my expertise.  I would mention that there is gotta be a suspicion for an infection before one considers aspiration of the fluid. If there are no signs of infection then it is probably not an infected fluid.

Great questions!

Hope you get better soon.


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Michael K.


Almost any kind of questions regarding any types of radiology exams, procedures, meaning of radiology reports etc...


12 year experience in the field of radiology

American Society of Neuroradiology, Senior Member Society of Pediatric Radiology, Active Member

Radiology Seminars in pediatric neurology American Journal of Roentgenology American Journal of Neuroradiology

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