Pain under armpit may feel like a burning sensation, or a pinched feeling. Numbness may or may not be present. In most people, the pain radiates from its point of origin to areas such as the shoulder or the arm of the affected side.
The Causal Factors
# Sometimes armpit pain could be a referred pain; a pain caused due to problems elsewhere in the body, like it is in the case of shingles. The worst form of pain under armpit and back could be caused by this infection. Shingles is caused by a virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus goes into a state of dormancy. Then for certain reasons, the virus gets reactivated in the form of shingles. It usually causes small painful blisters on the chest, back and shoulders. So it might happen that the pain from these areas might radiate through nerve pathways to the armpit region.
# If we rule out the above condition, then other causes may include:
Swollen lymph nodes: this is the perhaps, the most common cause of armpit pain. The swelling is commonly caused by a viral infection. In some cases, bacteria and parasites may also cause the same. In some people, certain autoimmune disorders may be the offenders. The condition could also indicate cancer but in rare cases.
Ingrown hair in the armpit: this is not only painful but embarrassing too. An ingrown hair is one that re-enters the skin instead of growing out. The skin takes this hair as some foreign matter trying to infiltrate the body thus, causing inflammation, irritation, pus-filled painful blisters, and itching.
Diabetes neuropathy: diabetes may also cause the pain. High blood sugar levels tend to damage the nerves throughout the body. However, the legs and feet are more vulnerable areas.
Allergies: products like deodorants, soaps or antiperspirants, may trigger allergic reaction in the skin. This could manifest into skin rash in the area, which may cause swelling, redness and pain.
Pinched nerve: if your armpit pain is accompanied by a tingling or burning sensation, then you can suspect the cause to be a condition called pinched nerve. It occurs when a nerve bears too much pressure because of the surrounding tissues like bone and cartilage. Also, the area may go numb, or experience muscle twitches.
The treatment aims in diagnosing, and managing the underlying cause of the problem. If the cause, suppose, is a pinched nerve, then most doctors would recommend resting, and avoiding activities that might aggravate the pain. Some people may require physical therapy, medications such as Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or corticosteroid injections. Surgery may be on the cards, if the condition does not improve, or conventional treatment measures do not look promising enough.
# Most people find relief from armpit pain by applying cold compresses. Warp some ice cubes in a towel and hold it against the affected area of the armpit. This would not only help relieving the pain, but would also reduce swelling if there is any.
# Alternatively, you can soak a washcloth in warm water. Wring out excess water, and apply it to the aching area.
If the pain under your armpit is accompanied by weight loss, persistent fever, fatigue, perspiration at night, skin becoming red and inflamed, then a medical visit becomes imperative. While most of the time, the causes are mild, in some cases, they may be as serious as cancer. A medical diagnosis would only help rule out severe conditions, and help you have peace of mind.