- Your Armpit Pain May Also be Known as:
- Aches and pains in arm
- Aches and pains in armpit
- Aches and pains in axilla
- Aches and pains in underarm
- Arm ache
- Arm discomfort
- Arm hurts
- Arm is painful
- Arm pain
- Arm soreness
Armpit Pain Symptoms
The armpit can be painful due to problems with the skin or issues with deeper structures. The skin of the armpits is prone to irritation due to constant moisture and rubbing throughout the course of the day.
As for deeper structures, the armpit contains some of the body's lymph nodes, which are responsible for draining fluid and waste products from other parts of the body. Lymph nodes play an important role in getting rid of local or systemic infections.
The armpit also contains nerves that can get compressed, causing pain. In addition, because of the location near the breast, processes affecting the breasts can affect the armpits as well.
Associated armpit pain symptoms include:
Armpit Pain Causes Overview
- Infection: Armpit skin is prone to infection of the hair follicles or skin folds, which can be painful.
- Irritants: Deodorant or lotions can contain irritating substances that cause an itchy and uncomfortable rash when applied to the armpit.
- Ingrown hair: Shaving the armpit can cause recently cut hair to grow into the skin, causing a small painful armpit bump.
- Chronic inflammation: A condition known as hidradenitis suppurativa causes recurrent inflamed and painful armpit lumps, possibly with smelly discharge, in the armpits and groin.
Lymph node problems:
- Systemic infection: A systemic viral infection such as mononucleosis can cause swollen and painful lymph nodes throughout the body, including in the armpit.
- Lymph node infection: If swelling and pain is restricted to the lymph nodes of one armpit, the cause could be an infection of one or more lymph nodes caused by a nearby infection such as an infected cut.
- Pain syndromes: Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are medical conditions characterized by chronic pain. They can cause painful swollen lymph nodes, including in the armpits.
- Cancer: In rare cases, painful enlargement of lymph nodes in the armpit could be a sign of cancer or lymphoma. One possible sign of this would be that the pain worsens after drinking alcohol. Most of the time a painful lymph node is very unlikely to be cancerous.
Other armpit pain causes:
- Breast pain: Some people have monthly breast pain at the time of the menstrual period. This type of pain often radiates to the armpits.
- Nerve injury: Rarely, compression of nerves that travel through the neck and armpit down the arm can cause armpit pain. In this condition there will likely also be pain in the neck and arm, as well as tingling in the hand.
- Heart attack: During a heart attack pain may radiate from the chest to the left arm, including the armpit. Usually armpit pain will not be the only symptom.
Top 2 Armpit Pain Causes
1.Non - Specific Breast Pain
Breast pain is either related to menstruation (cyclic) or not (noncyclic). It is common in pre-menopausal women and can also be a side effect of contraceptives that contain hormones like the pill, anticonceptive injections and intra-uterine devices.
Unless the pain is unbearable or there is a lump, a doctor will likely just reassure you that things are okay. Some women are treated with Danazol if the pain is severe or persistent.
- Top Symptoms:
- breast pain, breast swelling, armpit pain
- Symptoms that always occur with non-specific breast pain:
- breast pain
- Primary care doctor
Armpit Pain Checker
Take a quiz to find out why you’re having armpit pain.Take a quiz
Armpit cellulitis is a skin infection that needs antibiotic treatment. Symptoms can be pain, redness, warmth and swelling of the affected area.
You should seek care at your primary care physician or an urgent care within a day or two, to start antibiotic treatment and to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of your body.
- Top Symptoms:
- armpit pain, armpit redness, swollen armpit
- Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis:
- armpit redness
- Primary care doctor
Armpit Pain Treatments and Relief
In most cases, armpit pain does not require immediate treatment. However, urgent evaluation could be necessary if the armpit pain is a sign of a serious skin or lymph node infection, since the infection can spread to the rest of the body if left untreated. Emergency evaluation is also needed if there are signs that the armpit pain is occurring due to a heart attack.
Seek emergency treatment if:
- You have a high fever and chills.
- The armpit and/or an injury on the same arm as the painful armpit appear to be infected (red, warm, and/or oozing fluid).
- You are experiencing chest pain, nausea, sweating, and/or difficulty breathing.
In some cases, even though emergency evaluation isn't necessary, you may need medical evaluation and treatment. A physical exam and possibly laboratory studies can be helpful in establishing a diagnosis.
Make an appointment with your medical provider if:
- You have enlarged lymph nodes or painful skin bumps that have lasted more than a couple of weeks.
- You have a previously diagnosed skin condition that is causing armpit pain symptoms and getting worse or not responding to your usual treatment.
- You have experienced weight loss, fevers, and/or night sweats.
- You have enlarged lymph nodes that are only painful after drinking alcohol.
- You have tingling in your hand on the same side as the armpit pain.
Your medical provider may prescribe one or more of the following armpit pain treatments, depending on the cause of the armpit pain:
- Antibiotics to treat infection.
- Drainage of infected fluid.
- Pain medication.
- Steroid cream to treat a rash caused by an irritating substance like deodorant.
- Referral to a dermatologist.
- Referral to a surgeon to consider removal of recurring painful lumps, in the case of hidradenitis suppurativa.
Some home armpit pain treatments may help with the pain.
- Avoid potentially irritating substances such as deodorant.
- Wash the armpit before and after shaving or avoid shaving altogether.
- Use a warm compress on the armpit.
- Avoid tight and sweaty clothing.
- If the armpit pain is associated with a pain syndrome like fibromyalgia, aerobic exercise may help.
- NSAIDs like ibuprofen can help.
FAQs About Armpit Pain
Here are some frequently asked questions about armpit pain.
What does it mean if you have a sore lump in your armpit?
A sore lump under the skin of the armpit could be an enlarged lymph node. A swollen, painful lymph node in the armpit may indicate a nearby infection, such as an infected cut on the arm. A small lump on the surface of the skin could be due to an ingrown hair. Larger skin lumps with discharge and pain may be due to an inflammatory condition called hidradenitis suppurativa.
Why do I have a sharp pain in my armpit?
Sharp armpit pain could be referred from the breast. Breast pain can occur at the time of menstrual periods and can radiate to one or both armpits. Armpit pain can rarely be a sign of a heart attack, especially if you are also having other symptoms like chest pain, sweating, nausea, or difficulty breathing. However, the discomfort associated with a heart attack usually feels like pressure or burning rather than a sharp pain.
Can deodorant cause pain in the armpits?
Some types of deodorant contain irritating substances that can cause an allergic reaction in the armpit. The allergic reaction causes a red, itchy, uncomfortable rash. The rash should resolve if you stop using the deodorant. Try to avoid scratching the rash, since excessive scratching can disrupt the skin and lead to a skin infection.
Do swollen lymph nodes hurt?
Swollen lymph nodes may or may not be painful depending on the cause. Lymph nodes that are enlarged due to a local or systemic infection are often painful. In addition, lymph nodes may be painful if you have a pain syndrome such as fibromyalgia. Enlarged lymph nodes are usually not painful if they are caused by cancer or an immune system condition such as lupus.
What causes swollen lymph nodes in the armpit?
There are many possible causes of swollen lymph nodes in the armpit. They can be caused by a systemic illness like the flu, in which case other lymph nodes will also be swollen. If only armpit lymph nodes are swollen, they may be reacting to a nearby infection. A possible serious cause of enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit is cancer, such as a lymphoma or breast cancer. In this case the lymph nodes are usually hard, painless, and fixed in one spot.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Armpit Pain
- Q.How severe is your armpit pain?
- Q.How long has your armpit pain been going on?
- Q.How long has your shoulder pain been going on?
- Q.How severe is your shoulder pain?
If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our armpit pain symptom checker.Take a quiz
Armpit Pain Symptom Checker Statistics
People who have experienced armpit pain have also experienced:
- 12% Pain in the Upper Arm
- 11% Shoulder Pain
- 7% Forearm Pain
People who have experienced armpit pain had symptoms persist for:
- 28% Less Than a Week
- 27% Over a Month
- 25% Less Than a Day
People who have experienced armpit pain were most often matched with:
- 5% Non - Specific Breast Pain
- 2% Cellulitis