The armpit area contains many lymph nodes, nerves, and blood vessels. It also connects to muscles in the chest, arms, and around the rib cage. Many women worry when feeling pain in the right armpit. This article will list common causes of pain in right armpit in women and provide information about diagnosing and treating this condition.
Causes of pain in the right armpit in women
One of the following diseases or conditions usually causes pain in the right armpit in women.
- Axillary web syndrome: This syndrome typically appears after breast cancer surgery. The patient will feel a development of rope-like structures under the skin of the armpit. The National Cancer Institute of the US reports about 20% of women undergoing breast cancer surgery experience axillary web syndrome.
- Breast cancer: Nearly 1 in 8 women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over their lifetime. A lump or pain in the armpit can be a symptom of breast cancer.
- Lymphadenitis: The inflammation of the lymph nodes can occur due to infection. The American Academy of Family Physicians mentions that up to 38% of patients with skin infections experience lymphadenitis.
- Musculoskeletal strain: Overexertion or trauma to muscles, tendons, or ligaments in the chest or upper arm can result in armpit pain.
- Nerve compression: Thoracic outlet syndrome and other conditions can compress nerves in the neck and shoulder, resulting in pain radiating to the armpit.
- Shingles: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 3 people in the U.S. will develop shingles during their lifetime, which can cause painful rashes potentially around the armpit.
Other symptoms accompanying right armpit pain in women
- Axillary web syndrome: Pain, tightness, and restricted arm movement.
- Breast cancer: Lump in the breast or armpit, change in the size, shape, or appearance of the breast or nipple, or nipple discharge.
- Lymphadenitis: Swollen and painful lymph nodes, fever, night sweats.
- Musculoskeletal strain: Pain worsened by movement, swelling, bruising, or reduced range of motion.
- Nerve compression: Numbness, tingling sensation in the affected arm and fingers, weakness.
- Shingles: Painful rash, fever, headache, and fatigue.
Diagnosis of pain in right armpit in women
Diagnosis of the cause of right armpit pain in women is performed by reviewing thoroughly medical history, physical examination, or some tests:
- Imaging tests: Mammograms, ultrasounds, or MRIs can help identify tumors or changes in the breast tissue.
- Blood tests: Blood tests can detect signs of infections or conditions like diabetes which could contribute to nerve pain.
- Electromyography (EMG): This test measures electrical activity in muscles and can diagnose nerve compression disorders.
- Biopsy: In case of suspicious lumps or swollen lymph nodes, tissue samples are taken for examination.
Treatment of pain in right armpit in women
Treatment for right armpit pain depends on the underlying cause.
- Axillary web syndrome: Physical therapy and stretching exercises are commonly recommended.
- Breast cancer: Treatment might include surgery (lumpectomy, mastectomy), radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy drugs. According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year relative survival rate for women with localized breast cancer is 99%.
- Lymphadenitis: Antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat the underlying infection. In severe cases, surgical drainage may be necessary.
- Musculoskeletal strain: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation are first-line treatments. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also be used to manage pain and inflammation. Severe injuries might require physical therapy or surgery.
- Nerve compression: Treatment often includes physical therapy, pain relief medications, and potentially surgery in severe cases. A study published in the Journal of Hand Surgery in 2017 demonstrated a 90% success rate for thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.
- Shingles: Antiviral drugs can reduce the severity and duration of the disease. Pain medication may also be needed. The CDC reports that the Shingrix vaccine is over 90% effective at preventing shingles in adults aged 50 and older.
You can perform the following measures to reduce the likelihood of developing right armpit pain:
- Breast cancer screening: Regular mammograms and self-breast exams can aid early detection of breast cancer, improving the prognosis significantly.
- Immunization: Vaccination against viruses like HPV and varicella-zoster (chickenpox) can prevent conditions like shingles and certain types of cancers.
- Physical fitness: Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal strains and improve overall health.
- Ergonomics: Proper posture and ergonomics at work or during physical activity can prevent nerve compression and muscle strain.
In conclusion, right armpit pain in women can result from various causes and should not be ignored. Timely diagnosis and treatment are important. Regular screenings, immunizations, and a healthy lifestyle help prevent certain underlying conditions that contribute to this discomfort. Always consult a healthcare professional if you experience persistent or concerning symptoms.