• Wednesday May 27,2020

Pain under the armpit

Through constant movement of the arms, the shoulders are in permanent work. However, some people feel pain under the armpit even when standing still. These are usually caused by sudden nodules, but can also be caused by other symptoms. Due to the individual symptom picture, the pain can be treated efficiently by professional diagnosis and therapy.

What are pains under the armpit?

In the majority of cases, one or more swollen and palpable nodules in the armpit will indicate infection, in the best case nodule formation in the armpit will disappear by itself.

The armpits connect the arms, shoulders, chest and back of the human. For this reason, they are exposed to a continuous load. Anatomically, the armpits represent a cavity under the shoulder joint.

They are formed by different muscle groups, which are used to varying degrees. Many important pathways and structures of the arms and chest pass through the cavity, so that occasionally pain can occur under the armpit.

Due to the used muscle parts and pathways, the pain can not be attributed to a single cause. In addition to lymph glands, the causes of the pain can be manifold, so that injuries and diseases in these parts of the body should be taken seriously and examined by a doctor.


Pains under armpits have many causes, which can be either harmless or serious. The pain can be caused by the bilateral joint structures, muscles of the shoulder girdle, nerves, lymph channels and nodes, tendons or blood vessels.

Also, the lymph of the chest, neck and arms is able to cause the pain. Harmless causes are usually injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system of the entire shoulder apparatus. Through permanent movement and use of the shoulder area, the armpits are in a sustained tensioned state.

In addition to the humerus, the pain can result from the collarbone, the scapula or the shoulder joint. Likewise, it is possible that harmless pain may be caused by strains, tension, or tears of the underarm muscles. In particular, the upper and lower back muscles and the rotator cuff of the shoulder are often unknowingly overloaded, which can cause injuries.

Likewise, inflammation is able to trigger pain under the armpits. Most inflammations are caused by pathogens that invade the skin or lymph nodes around the armpits. As a result of inflammation painful redness and swelling occur.

Small injuries such as shaving increase the risk of inflammation, as the sensitive skin of the armpit area is superficially damaged by razor blades and thus facilitates the entry of viruses, fungi and bacteria. Viral infections can also cause swollen lymph nodes. These infections include, for example, Pfeiffer's glandular fever or measles.

Only in rare cases do the lymph nodes in the armpit area swell without inflammation. The swelling generally causes an uncomfortable, painful pressure sensation. Both harmless and malignant diseases in the outflow area of ​​the axillary lymph nodes can be the cause of this type of swelling.

In addition, if the pain, and especially the swelling of the pelvic lymph nodes, is not accompanied by a previous illness, the symptoms may further indicate cancer. Many cancers infect the lymph node system, causing the cancer cells to accumulate in the nodes and swell them. In technical jargon, this condition is called lymph node metastases. Especially breast cancer or breast cancer often affects the axillary lymph nodes.

At the same time, the Hodgkinkrankheit or Hodgkin's disease is considered a malignant cancer of the lymphatic system. In the early stages of cancer, the lymph nodes swell mainly in the neck, but also on the groin or in the armpits. In addition to the swelling, patients may also suffer from fever, weight loss, night sweats and tiredness. The term non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, however, summarizes all malignant diseases of the lymphatic system that do not belong to Hodgkin's disease. Underarm pain may be indicative of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Diseases with this symptom

  • lymph node inflammation
  • strain
  • Hair root inflammation
  • muscle strain
  • Knot under the armpit
  • fibroma
  • folliculitis
  • Paget-Schroetter disease
  • lymphangioma


As well as causes of pain under the armpit, the complications associated with the particular condition vary. Not every patient will experience complications in the course of a disease. Often as a by-product of a harmless condition such as inflamed sweat glands, swollen lymph nodes in the armpit area occur.

Also, mild infections cause swelling. Although no treatment is needed in these cases, many patients suffer from pain and sometimes limited mobility. When the disease is treated, systemic side effects may occur due to the medicine being administered, which in turn may cause pain.

Severe to life-threatening complications are caused by malignant swelling of the armpits, for example, resulting from cancer. The carcinomas in this case can grow unhindered and spread in the body. The metastases are able to infect the lymph nodes along with the entire lymphatic system and often other internal organs.

As a result, the organs can no longer work properly, which significantly worsens their functioning. If the carcinomas are mainly treated for breast cancer, underarm pain may be the result of treatment.

Surgery in the event of cancer also makes patients more susceptible to infections or difficulties in healing the wounds. If a radiation therapy, the patient's organism is additionally burdened, so that they are less resistant to infections.

When should you go to the doctor?

In many patients, the pain and swelling in the armpit area suddenly occur. Depending on the cause, these can automatically pass or remain within a few days. If a harmless infection occurs in the patient, it can cause the swelling. After the infection has healed, the lymph nodes should shrink back to their original size so that the doctor does not have to be consulted in this case.

However, if swelling or pain develops without previous illness or strain on the nervous, muscular or muscular system of the shoulder and chest area, a doctor should be consulted to clarify the symptoms and causes. Before the doctor makes a diagnosis, those affected can make a short self-diagnosis. Lymph nodes are easy to palpate. If it is benign nodules or swelling, they can be easily moved. Non-displaceable but painless lumps indicate an infection.

Swelling after vaccination is also possible. If slippable or tight knots persist for more than two weeks, however, it is important to see a doctor, as the knots should usually subside within that time. The doctor is able to clarify the exact cause of the swelling and to exclude other diseases. Swelling nodes, but not necessarily a doctor must be visited.

If patients want to receive an accurate diagnosis, they should first visit the family doctor. With long-term enlarged nodes under the armpits can also help an internist. The family doctor carries out initial examinations, such as a blood test, ultrasound, computed tomography and tissue sampling and, if necessary, refers the patients to a specialist.

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The diagnosis of pain under the armpit begins with a detailed history. Afterwards the doctor will perform a palpation or a careful palpation examination. Through this he receives an accurate knowledge of the affected armpit and the appearance of knots and pain.

If the doctor feels slippable nodules that indicate a harmless infection, no further examinations are usually carried out. However, if the nodes do not spontaneously become detached within several days or if changes or enlargements occur, the physician initiates further examinations.

Blood and ultrasound examinations and a tissue sample or biopsy are typical for examining the armpits and lymph nodes. Based on the test results, the physician is able to provide an accurate diagnosis as well as the causes of the swelling and pain. Diagnosis during further examination procedures can take several days.

On the basis of the diagnosis, certain diseases can be excluded or limited, which may be responsible for the pain and knot formation.

Treatment & Therapy

Since several diseases have pain under the armpit and swollen lymph nodes as a typical symptom or by-product, treatment of them can only be done after a precise diagnosis. Depending on the diagnosis, patients must undergo drug therapy or surgery. Especially serious immune system diseases are treated with appropriate drugs.

In case of a boil or a malignant tumor or metastases an operative treatment takes place. Under certain circumstances, chemosurgery or radiation therapy may be initiated after surgery for malignant growths. Harmless illnesses, through which the nodes swell, however, require no therapy. With them often enough already sufficient rest and sleep as well as the avoidance of physical exertion and stress, since the body fights the infection independently.

Patients can improve and boost their immune system when needed by taking vitamin supplements and a healthy diet. Analgesics and antipyretic drugs should be taken only after consultation with the attending physician. Antibiotics are prescribed only after a bacterial infection. Harmless infections take up to two months to heal completely. During this period, the nodes may still be noticeable, as well as painful or sensitive to pain.

Outlook & Forecast

If pain occurs under the armpit, especially suddenly, they can be quickly diagnosed due to the tactile position. Especially swollen lymph nodes are always felt, so that the doctor treated relatively easy to make an initial examination together with premature prognosis.

If they are easily movable, non-growing nodes, they disappear within a period of a few days to weeks. Since it takes about two months to completely fade away, the innocuous swelling may persist during this period. If the infection slowly fades, the nodes also swell. However, if the nodules are caused by a serious illness, such as a serious infection, cancer, or rotator cuff injury, the chances of recovery are highly dependent on a timely diagnosis.

The sooner the patient or patients consult a doctor and have the symptoms cleared, the higher the chances of recovery increase. Especially in the case of cancer, which has swollen lymph nodes as a secondary symptom, a doctor should be consulted in time. This can cause corresponding further therapies in the form of radiation or drug therapies or surgery, which not only significantly increase the healing, but also the chances of survival.


As pain under the armpit and swollen lymph nodes can occur as a result of other diseases, they can not be prevented in principle.

The appearance of pain and swelling also depends heavily on your own immune system. If a person is very susceptible to harmless infectious diseases, they feel the pain more quickly, or they develop faster at their nodes. People with a strong immune and defense system suffer less often from lymphadenopathy or pain in the armpits.

It is also possible that a physical reaction such as an allergy or intolerance to certain substances or foods causes the symptoms. If any intolerances or allergies are known, the affected should avoid contact with the causes or treat the symptoms independently if possible. Especially lymph node swelling due to allergies and intolerances can be treated quickly by the generally known scheme, so that the pain and swelling subside early.

If patients who are susceptible to a variety of infectious diseases due to a weak or weakened immune system, strengthen their immune system, they can resort to appropriate preparations. Also, a healthy, varied diet is recommended. Almonds and spices in the form of cumin, cinnamon and ginger are among the foods that boost your immune system.

The consumption of sugar, larger quantities of red meat, fast food and unhealthy fats such as refined vegetable oils and lard should instead be avoided. The foods weaken the immune system and counterproductive effect on this project.

You can do that yourself

Due to the fact that swollen lymph nodes and pain under the armpit can hardly be prevented, those affected and susceptible persons can counteract possible illnesses that cause the symptoms.

To lower the likelihood of infection, one's own immune system should be strengthened. The stronger the endogenous immune system ultimately is, the lower the chances of contracting an infectious disease. Also, a strengthened immune system helps to combat pre-existing infections faster and consequently to get better faster.

If the pain or swollen lymph nodes under the armpit, the sufferers should protect their body to support the self-healing powers. In addition to a lot of sleep and rest, especially a balanced diet together with enough fluid is important. It is recommended that a daily amount of liquid of at least two liters of water. If the state of health allows exercise, excursions such as short walks in the air help significantly to improve the immune system and accelerate self-healing.

Especially with pain, certain home remedies can also provide relief. Ice compresses reduce sore muscles in the underarm area, while warm compresses relieve the swelling of the knots and the pain. A massage of the affected area also helps to increase the circulation in the body region, which also reduces the swelling. In order to avoid infections or a worsened condition, care should also be taken not to irritate the bodies due to sweating and high temperatures.

Brief showering with gentle cleansers keeps the armpit clean so that infections are less common. Shaving the underarm area should not be done during swelling or pain, as this may cause further irritation. In addition, wearing loose-fitting clothing prevents scrubbing.

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