There are many possible causes of pain under armpit or in the general underarm area. One example would be lymph node enlargement. In addition, other structures close to the armpit can lead to discomfort or pain under left armpit or the right one. Sometimes armpit pain is due to a nervous system disorder, traumatic injury, or other medical conditions. Some causes will require medical attention to diagnose and resolve the causes, making it important to visit your doctor if you experience armpit pain.
What May Cause Armpit Pain?
Sometimes antiperspirants, soaps, or deodorants may lead to an allergic reaction of the skin. The reaction can lead to pain as well as swelling and redness.
Aches from the common cold affect the entire body, including the armpit. Underarm pain is especially common with infections of the upper respiratory tract. The pain should lessen and heal as the rest of the body does.
This type of indigestion involves stomach acids traveling upwards through your esophagus and sometimes to the heart. The heat may extend to the underarm area, leaving a sharp pain that only lasts a few minutes.
Pulled muscles can lead to excruciating armpit pain. You may strain your pectoralis from any activity that uses it, from picking something up or following a tough workout.
People who have previously had chickenpox may develop shingles. This infection typically affects only one area of the body, starting with pain, frequently in the armpit.
Brachial Plexus Injury
Your brachial plexus is a nerve network found in the shoulder and neck that extends through your armpit. It can be damaged via trauma, stretching, or pressure, with traction being a common cause of injuries. In some severe cases, your nerves may even tear away from the neck or cervical spine roots. In addition to underarm pain, those with this injury may experience tingling and numbness of the arm or reduced motor control.
Hardened spots near the breast and cancerous armpit lumps may also include armpit pain. You should never ignore these symptoms as breast cancer can be very serious.
This type of accident involves possible damage to part of the brain, leading to faulty brain functioning, dizziness, or headaches. You may also have damage in the nerve endings of the armpit area, leading to pain resembling an electric current.
Connective Tissue Degeneration
When connective tissue degenerates or decays, you may have armpit pain without any lumps present. It will probably worsen when trying to stretch or move the arms.
Cysts develop easily in your underarm as the area is dark, moist, and warm, making it the perfect environment for these tiny sacs of debris and fluid. Most of the time, they are harmless and simply a way to get rid of toxins. Despite this, cysts can lead to severe armpit pain and you should always have armpit cysts checked in case they are an early sign of cancer.
If diabetes is untreated, the blood sugar levels of the body are raised too much, which can lead to peripheral neuropathy. This involves excess glucose injuring small blood vessels related to the nerves and pain in the given area, such as the armpit.
This is the term for an inflammation or infection of the sweat glands found in the armpits. It may lead to swelling or small lump formation. Possible causes include poor hygiene, heat, and excessive sweating, all of which can lead to boils and the associated hardened patch with radiating, blunt pain.
When the thyroid gland is overactive, this may lead to swollen glands in the armpits and associated pain. It is more common among those with a high daily intake of iodine.
This is an infection of the glands or lymph nodes and can be a complication of bacterial infections. Lymphadenitis occurs if your lymph nodes are enlarged from inflammation, which is typically a reaction to fungi, viruses, or bacteria. Swollen lymph nodes typically occur near an area with tumors, inflammation, or infection and lymphadenitis can affect any lymph node, including those in the armpit. Other symptoms include hard, tender, and swollen lymph nodes and tender, red skin.
Peripheral Artery Disease
This disease is obstruction of any arteries found close to the brain or heart, including those that travel through the legs and arms. When blood flow is hampered close to the armpits or shoulder, you may notice a sharp pain spreading from your underarm to your shoulder.
When a shoulder is dislocated, the upper arm bone’s top will completely or partially fallout from the shoulder socket, leading to discomfort and pain in both the armpit and shoulder. Additional common symptoms include weakness, bruising, numbness, and swelling in both the underarm and shoulder.
This fungal infection can lead to painful lumps and rashes in the armpit. It commonly affects gardeners due to the presence of the fungi involved (sporothrix schenckii) in moss, rose bushes, and soil.
When to See a Doctor
Sometimes, armpit pain can indicate a life-threatening condition which needs to be immediately evaluated by a medical professional, due to the possibility of referred angina (chest pain from decreased blood flow to the heart) or a serious fracture. You should always get immediate medical care if you experience underarm pain as well as any of the following life-threatening symptoms:
Heavy or uncontrolled bleeding or hemorrhage
Sudden, stabbing, and intense pain of the underarm
Breathing or respiratory problems, including choking, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, or shortness of breath
Inability to move part of the body or paralysis
Chest palpitations, pressure, tightness, or pain
A bone sticking out from the skin
5 Effective Methods to Soothe Armpit Pain
Rely On Cold Compresses. Use a cold cotton washcloth or ice pack and apply it directly to your armpit to relieve pain and inflammation.
Run a Warm Bath. In cases of inflammation and infection, adding a tablespoon of baking soda to a warm bath can reduce overall pain, inflammation, and itchiness.
Use Massage. Try to gently massage the armpit to lower swelling by improving blood circulation.
Avoid Spicy and Oily Foods. Spicy and oily foods will make you sweat more, including in the underarm region. This may increase bacterial growth, worsening the problem, so avoid these foods.
Practice Good Hygiene. Swelling, disease, and infection always decrease with proper care, including ensuring the area is clean and dry. By keeping your underarms clean as well as dry, any painful lumps will heal more quickly and if the lump is from clogged pores that led to bacterial infection, it will disappear.