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.


Common Cold

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

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.


Breast Cancer

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.


Cerebrovascular Accident

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.


Glandular Infections

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.


Shoulder Dislocation

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.


Please Log In or add your name and email to post the comment.

  • eileen careySep.1 02:04
    i was hit by a cop that was speeding (OVER 30 miles the posted speed limit) AND ran a red light to to avoid "t. boning" him..i swerved really HARD & my seat belt loosened & i smacked HARD into my steering wheel (he was fine though ..i saved his life sigh) meanwhile my rib cracked ..this was 11 years ago ..since then i have chronic stabbing pain first it was mostly my Rib pain then my Thoracic Spine then my upper Stomach my Solar Plexus area this became so intense i really wanted to die..then my Chiropractor made a VERY painful (but LIFE saving) adjustment i swear the adjustment was SO intense & scary but it saved me FOR sure..the thing is now for the last 5 years i get this real intense pain under my Rib Armpit area is a VERY specific spot however the pain radiates to my Arm , Neck & upper Back & lower Back...when this happens it even hurts to Breathe feels like the Fascia is torn or something..i also think i have fibromyalgia which i know exacerbates it ALL ..does anyone have these symptoms too? If so have You had a diagnoses ?? For the most part i find MOST "Doctors" do not know what to "think" so they try giving me drugs which i WILL not take..they are just pain pills..NO THANKS. I appreciate all good feedback..Blessings
  • Cassiopeia DariusJul.23 00:30
    I have an auntie said to me that he armpit was hurting when she visited the house. But then, I went to this website and asked her questions to figure out why. After asking, she said that it was only hurting. Not more, not less. Can you help me?
  • Jordan-Leigh CranJul.21 14:00
    I've had pain in my armpit, pectoral muscle and all down my arm ever since I got a frozen shoulder two years ago. I've tired massage, accupuncture and cortisone injections but it is still there.
  • jewellJun.18 01:17
    Wow, I am not crazy! I have been having pain under my right arm and some pain in my right breast. The lymph nodes are not enlarged, CT scan, ultra sound , blood work all coming back normal....pain is still there. Some times it is a little swollen and others its not, I am starting to think I am crazy. Now I see there are other people with the same question now, what do we do?
  • OswynApr.28 19:41
    Two days ago, I started feeling pain under both my armpits. .when I tried massaging the areas, I felt round like painful balls in the middle of my armpits but also in one place. ..what do I do to make sure it's not breast cancer? ?
  • dandrade Apr.19 04:26
    Same dull pain moves from breast to armpit to upper rib area. Also have carpal tunnel issues and possibly arthritis on same side in wrist and had. Most recent mammogram (last June) was negative for anything abnormal, but I can't get out of my head that there maybe something there that isn't good. Sounds like many of us have same symptoms, wondering if anyone has had a diagnosis they would care to share...
  • Katie Apr.5 05:28
    I'm a dancer age 13 and I fell and supported my fall in a plank position. Since then I have excruciating pain in my armpits mostly my left going down my triceps and side of my breast. What did I do?
  • joanne christieMar.28 17:47
    Hi, i have pain under the outer side of my armpit for about 3 days and it go's down to my elbow. It feels like a bad knee ach. Dose breast cancer cause these systems? I am 61 and its hard to get to the doctor. Thank you
  • C, EleanorMar.28 09:33
    I woke up yesterday on w/ pain on my left armpit & it woke me up in this 3am again still hurting. What is this going on? ??????
  • BirdFeb.4 06:19
    Hello all..I hv been suffering from left rarmpit pain,arm pain and shoulder pain since 2 yrs..i also hv light swelling. I m a lazy bird nd mostly love to b in my bed and watching TV..but whn this pain bcom my lifetaker I decided to do exercise and with in one month my pain went away completely.. After tht I stopped doing exercise with in 15 days my pain cm jst do regular exercise and get rid of most of the unexplained body more choice...
View All Comments /Add Comment