Armpit Pain

Facts About Armpit Pain

There can be a great many different causes of armpit pain. The most obvious might be the pulling of a muscle in the armpit area. There are muscles in the upper arm from which pain can radiate down into the armpit. Even pain from the pectoral muscle or rib cage can find its way into the armpit area.

Axillary myalgic pain is pain which can come from excessive stretching of a muscle under the armpit. This type of armpit pain can come from overdoing it when playing sports like tennis or racquetball.  Nerve pain can come from many different causes and appear as armpit pain.  One of the most painful causes is from shingles or Herpes Zoster, an adult variation of the chicken pox virus. Because shingles often blisters to the side of the breasts and around the back, it can cause immense nerve pain that can spread into the armpit area.

Many times, armpit pain is the result of a rash or even a cyst that just pops up under the armpit. Anything that makes this sensitive area raw is going to be very painful. Most cysts and skin conditions just heal up without causing too much trouble. Nasty red rashes can form from something as simple as shaving under the armpits or using a deodorant or soap to which you might have been allergic.

There are, of course, some causes of armpit pain which can be very serious. And, these are the ones everyone worries about almost immediately when they have pain in this area. The most worrisome are a tumor or swollen lymph nodes under the arm which can be from cancer. Both of these symptoms can also be from non-cancerous conditions.

The lymph nodes are a whole network of vessels, ducts, nodes and organs which are a part of the human body’s immune system. The lymph system covers the entire body and their job is to make antibodies which fight infections. The lymph nodes can destroy both viruses and bacteria. Lymph nodes can be felt under the armpit, in back of the ears, up and down both sides of the neck, on the back of the head, and in other spots.

Lymph nodes can get an infection and inflammation called lymphadenitis. This can cause armpit pain. This happens if staphylococcus aureus bacteria affects lymph nodes in the armpit, groin or neck. An acute form of this condition causes very red and painful streaks just under the surface of the skin. If the infection gets into the bloodstream it can cause death.

Lymph nodes can swell because of almost any type of tumor in the area of the breast or armpit, whether is malignant or not. This will cause pain in the area of the tumor which will travel to the lymph nodes under the arm. Fighting any type of infection will cause the lymph nodes under the arm to be swollen and painful. This type of swollen lymph node usually only appears if there is an infection, an abscess or a malignant tumor.


This swelling and pain would be very gradual if the cause was any kind of cancer. It is not likely that you would just wake up one day to armpit pain caused by a tumor. It is much more likely for acute armpit pain to be because of an injury, muscular cause or an infection. In fact, infection of the glands of the armpit is a very common occurrence.

Armpit glands can be infected and become painful because of fluids from the arm or breast draining into the area. Other causes can be HIV or AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, certain vaccines (such as typhoid or smallpox), infectious mononucleosis, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, and many kinds of allergies.

If you have a lump that can be felt under your armpit or swollen lymph nodes, it is always best to get it checked out by a doctor. Most times it is nothing serious and any worries you may have will be put to rest.