Last updated on January 12th, 2018
Does breast cancer cause underarm pain? Pain in armpits can occur in muscles or in skin tissues depending on what leads to your problem. It may be mild or a shooting or cause unbearable underarm discomfort.
Anyone can experience this problem regardless of age, gender or race. Pain can be felt in the left armpit or left or both right and left armpits or radiate. If there is a physical change such as swelling or painful bumps or lumps or a distinct appearance of skin under the arms, it could be remarkable of a rash or infection symptoms.
Furthermore, pain may spread from the chest to down the arms or sometimes where the pain originates. Find out more on the possible causes, likely symptoms, treatment and remedies.
Underarm pain causes
Below are possible causes or reasons why your armpits feel pain.
Swollen lymph nodes
These structures help fight infection but can be overwhelmed by infection or injury or other serious conditions associated with the armpits.
One of the conditions that leads to pain in armpit is hidradenitis suppurativa. Characterized by inflammation of hair follicles, HS can worsen if not treated on good time. The pimple-like bumps may become badly infected or deepen inflicting pain in armpits.
Keep in mind that some serious conditions that cause a swelling
of lymph node(s) can be painless. For instance, lymphoma.
The cause of the problem is given a forehand while looking for the most appropriate way of treating swollen lymph nodes in armpits. Clearing the symptoms might not help to solve the problem especially if swelling won’t go away.
Injured or strained armpit muscles
Any form of strain or pull on muscles of the armpits can lead to pain. The injury may occur after hitting the area directly, lifting heavy things or overworking them. Some forms of shoulder injury including overuse of bone spurs or frozen shoulder cam also lead to underarm pain.
Symptoms or signs to look out for include:
- Painful arm movements in specific muscle region
- Weakness or inability to use muscles
- Bruising or redness
Majority of the cases involving pain in muscles due to strain are expected to heal gradually with time.
Nerves located throughout the armpits and shoulders can also become injured through cuts, during surgery or pressure on either armpits. One of the commonly ways in which nerve injury can cause underarm pain is by brachial injuries.
Moving on with causes of underarm pain, there is infection of the sweat glands. Glandular infections are mostly bacterial. Inflammation is usually a telling symptom of this infection. Nevertheless, this may lead to a “hardened patch or boils accompanied by a dull, radiating pain.” [www.med-health.net]
Armpit rashes can manifest in various forms such as redness, itching, thickening of skin or eruptions like bumps. A rash on armpits can be significant of symptoms of a chronic skin condition or infections. Causes of these rashes include:
- Allergic contact dermatitis
- Heat rash
- Fungal infections such as sporotrichosis or viral infections such as shingles
Remedies for underarm rashes
The best approach to dealing with this trick problem is identifying your trigger causes and stopping or avoiding them. Otherwise:
- Keep the armpit area clean
- Take warm water bath
- Apply OTCs anti-inflammatory products to avoid scratching or itching
- Try to control or reduce sweating
- Seek proper medication when your child or you have symptoms and suspect it is viral infection
- Use scent-free moisturizing creams or natural oil remedies such as pure virgin olive
Dislocation of shoulder
This is another possible of pain in the armpit besides the inevitable joint pain. Symptoms experienced include:
- Swelling around shoulder
- Bruising or redness
Other causes of armpit pain
Here are other possible causes in addition to the above causes of armpit pain.
- Axillary nerve injury
- Secondary lymphedema
- Breast cancer
- Infected underarm cysts
- Use of crutches may lead to sore arms
- After waxing or armpit hair removal
Pain under armpit and breast area
Females who experience pain under breast and left armpit or in right underarms especially during pregnancy, should seek medical attention promptly.
Premenopausal women who have underarm lumps that either cause pain or are painless should wait for a cycle. In that case, there is also need to see a medical doctor or clinician on board.
Breast pain and armpit pain – females
Breast pain (also known as mastalgia) is a premenopausal or perimenopausal or (sometimes) post-menopausal problem in females. Signs and symptoms may vary (stabbing to burning or dull) depending on your feature (premenopausal or perimenopausal) of breast pain.
- Tender breasts
- Swelling of breasts
- Infection can occur within breast it leads to mastitis
- Pain may be continuous (cyclic) or non-cyclic
- Warmth in painful area of the affected breast
- Lumpy breasts.
- Sometimes hard lumps can occur with breast pain
The sides and usually the upper breast sides feel painful. Notably, this pain can spread to either the left or right armpit (near armpit) in females. One or both breasts are usually affected meaning that there is pain armpit area.
The good thing is that breast pain is rarely a symptoms of breast cancer.
Underarm pain no lump – is it a concern?
Pain in armpits in absence of lumps can occur in some cases. A more common predisposition for this kind of predisposition is armpit rashes. Although some skin rashes can be symptomatic of bumps.
- Nerve pain
- Armpit muscle strains or pull
- Underarm physical injury including post-surgery axillary trauma
- Breakdown of connective tissue in the armpits (degeneration)
This requires an urgent medical intervention in order to detect or identify possible cause of this kind of armpit pain.
Sharp or shooting pain in armpit
Do you occasionally get sharp or “stabbing” pain under your armpits? Consider seeing your doctor but here are probably reasons why you experience it.
- Nerve pain under the armpits
- Peripheral artery disease
- Cancer (lymphoma)
- Swollen underarm lymph nodes
Shooting pain can be a temporary or a lifelong problem depending on what results to this kind of armpit discomfort. The chest, arms or legs may be having a serious problem or are also affected.
Pain under right or left armpit
Pain in right armpits can be mild, severe or shooting pain. In addition to the causes above, here are some of the common causes of pain under left or right armpit.
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Underarm rashes
- Viral infections such as shingles
- Muscle injury or strain
- Underarm cysts
- Hair removal
- Pain causing anxiety
If there is shooting pain is felt in one armpit, say, the left armpit only and do not understand why please see a physician the soonest.
Painful lump in armpit
Lumps underarms can be a sign of serious condition, injury or infection of the lymph nodes around the armpits. Swollen lymph nodes in your armpits may be considered a painless conditions but if they cause pain they could be infected or have developed a different condition such as underarm cysts.
General signs and symptoms may include feeling unwell or fever and discomfort in armpits especially while making arm movements.
Most infections are caused by a viruses or bacteria. A painful armpit lump can be small or may change in size when infected. Normally, cases of swollen and painful armpit lumps should be treated by a qualified surgeon or a board certified doctor.
Treatment and relief remedies for armpit pain
Underarm pain can be treated in various ways. The effective management of the problem can be achieved if the underlying condition or infection or other problem is known.
Prior to treatment of underlying cause of underarm pain, your doctor or physician will need helpful information such as accompanied symptoms.
1. Non-steroidal medications
If the pain is caused by inflammation of skin, your doctor should prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs. Anti-inflammatory medicines work by blocking the COX-enzymes hence help reduce pain, and fever.
Since there are various NSAIDs, ask your physician for the right medicines to help get rid of pain in the armpits.
2. Hot or cold compress
This is a common remedy for pain under arms around shoulder or joint. Cold compress can greatly relieve of pain due to muscle strain.
On the other hand hot compress (another home remedy) is a relief to armpit pain after waxing or swollen lymph nodes due to injury.
3. Muscle relaxer medications
These medicines are used to massage areas affected by muscle pulling or straining.
4. Swollen lymph nodes treatment
Like we mentioned earlier, treatment for swollen or enlarged lymph nodes that cause underarm discomfort should be done in a doctor’s office. Some of the treatment methods include:
- Injection of corticosteroids
5. How to deal with armpit rashes
Since there are various causes of underarm rash, dealing with symptoms alone may not solve it. More importantly, get to understanding of your triggers and possibly the exact cause. Otherwise, see your dermatologist in case of any emergency or problem with identifying the kind of rash on your armpit.
6. Physical therapy (physiotherapy)
These comprise procedures done by physiotherapists (which include massage, mechanical movements, medicines and specialties) that are considered measures to manage or help in impairment of armpit muscles.
Surgery is another optional treatment for conditions like hidradenitis suppurativa and underarm cysts. It should be noted that, surgery itself as a method of treatment can potentially intensify underarm pain.
When to talk to your doctor
Call you doctor to inform them about additional symptoms or when underarm pain comes suddenly. In addition to:
- Numbness on left arm or body side
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Swelling excessively under your arms
- Throbbing pain in arms
If you experience severe underarm pains such as soreness especially while pregnant, seek medical advice.
- Breast Pain: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263566.php#signs_and_symptoms
- Hidradenitis suppurativa: Diagnosis and treatment: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/painful-skin-joints/hidradenitis-suppurativa#treatment
- Symptoms of lymphoma in detail. Lymphoma Association. https://www.lymphomas.org.uk/about-lymphoma/what-is-lymphoma/symptoms/symptoms-lymphoma-detail
- Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): http://www.medicinenet.com/nonsteroidal_antiinflammatory_drugs/article.htm