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Why is my swollen lymph node painful?
Mar 17, 2002

I checked all the questions about nodes, but didn't see this one so....I have a swollen lymph node under my armpit which is quite large (about 1.5 inches) and am concerned about the level of pain that I experience in the area surrounding the node. I am waiting for an appt. with my Dr. but am quite anxious to find out anything that I can. The node has grown to this size in a matter of one week and is the only swollen node on my body. Is pain normally connected to swollen nodes? Thanks for listening to one more lymph node question....CF

Response from Dr. Dezube

As lymph nodes grow, they cause the capsule in which they are contained to swell. The amount of pain that an individual lymph node causes is determined not only by the size, but also by the rate of growth. A lymph node, which grows slowly, tends to expand the capsule slowly, causing less pain. A lymph node, such as yours, which is growing quickly, tends to cause more pain. The most common cause of a rapidly growing lymph node in the arm pit is NOT cancer, but rather an infection. The arm pit is a very common place for such an infection. You may need an antibiotic to take care of this. If your lymph nodes remains swollen even after a course (typically one week) of antibiotics, then further evaluation may be in order. On occasion very enlarged lymph nodes need to be drained by a surgeon, particularly if they contain pus. Scratches from cats, especially kittens, can provoke very swollen lymph nodes in the armpit region, because these playful pets often a harbor certain bacteria, which sets up such a reaction. I often tell patients to avoid deodorants while they have swollen lymph nodes in the armpit.


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