pain on side of breast near armpit

Causes and Treatment Options for Pain on Side of Breast Near Armpit

Many individuals experience various types of breast pain at some point. Still, it can be particularly concerning when discomfort is localized to the side of the breast near the armpit. This type of pain can arise from many factors, ranging from benign conditions like muscle strain to more serious issues that require immediate medical attention, such as infections or tumors. Understanding the potential causes and available treatment options is crucial for addressing this discomfort effectively. In this article, we will delve into the various factors that can lead to pain on side of breast near armpit and discuss when it’s time to consult with healthcare professionals for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.



Common Causes of Pain on the Side of the Breast Near the Armpit

When you experience pain on the side of the breast near the armpit, it’s natural to feel concerned. However, this type of discomfort can arise from various sources, and not all of them cause immediate alarm. Here are some common reasons you might be experiencing this specific type of pain:

Muscle Strain

Overexertion during exercise or lifting heavy objects can lead to muscle strain in the chest or upper arm area, which could be mistaken for breast pain. This discomfort is usually temporary and may resolve with rest and pain relief measures.

Hormonal Changes

pain on side of breast near armpit selfcheckFluctuations in hormone levels, particularly during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause, can lead to breast tenderness or pain, which might extend to the armpit area. Many women experience breast pain as part of their normal menstrual cycle (periods) Changing hormone levels can cause changes in the milk ducts or milk glands. These changes in the ducts and glands can cause breast cysts, which can be painful and are a common cause of cyclic breast pain. Noncyclic breast pain may be caused by trauma, prior breast surgery or other factors. The pain can be in one or both breasts, affecting the whole breast or a specific area. It may be a burning, prickling or stabbing pain or a feeling of tightness. Sometimes, it’s impossible to identify the exact cause of breast pain, but some factors may increase the risk.

Lymph Node Inflammation

The armpit area is home to several lymph nodes that can become swollen or inflamed due to various reasons like breast infection, injury, or, in rare cases, cancer. Inflammation of the lymph nodes can lead to localized pain in the armpit or adjacent breast area.


Breast infections like mastitis are more common among breastfeeding women but can occur in non-breastfeeding women and men. Symptoms can include pain, redness, and warmth in the affected area.

Other Medical Conditions

Less commonly, this type of pain can indicate a more serious condition, such as breast cancer symptoms or a benign breast condition like a cyst or fibroadenoma. These conditions often have other accompanying symptoms like lumps, changes in skin texture, or nipple discharge.

It’s crucial to consult with healthcare professionals for a proper diagnosis if you experience persistent or severe pain on the side of the breast near the armpit. They will guide you through diagnostic tests and treatments appropriate for your condition.

When to Be Concerned: Red Flags and Warning Signs

While some pain on the side of the breast near the armpit can be attributed to benign conditions or temporary issues, there are specific red flags and warning signs that should prompt immediate medical consultation. Awareness of these can help ensure that any underlying serious conditions are caught and treated promptly.

Persistent Pain

If the pain you’re experiencing persists for an extended period or seems to increase in intensity over time, it’s essential to seek medical advice. While occasional discomfort may not be a cause for concern, persistent pain may signal an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Additional Symptoms

Be on the lookout for additional symptoms such as lumps in the right or left breast or armpit, skin color or texture changes, nipple discharge, or dimpling. These could be indicative of more severe conditions, including inflammatory breast cancer.

Pain That Worsens Over Time or Is Severe

If your pain worsens over time or starts as severe, this is a red flag. Mild pain that gradually escalates or sudden, severe pain should be immediately evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Unresponsiveness to Over-the-Counter Treatments

If you’ve tried over-the-counter pain relief or anti-inflammatory medication and the pain has not subsided, it’s crucial to get a proper diagnosis from a medical professional. This could indicate that the underlying cause requires more specialized treatment.

Age and Family History

Women over 40 or those with a family history of breast cancer or other related conditions should be more vigilant about breast pain. They should consult their healthcare provider even for milder symptoms. Regular screenings are advised for this higher-risk group.

Diagnostic Procedures for Isolating the Cause

pain on side of breast near armpit suddenWhen pain on the side of the breast near the armpit arises, accurate diagnosis is essential for effective treatment. The right diagnostic tests help isolate the cause and rule out more serious conditions, thereby providing peace of mind. Below are some common diagnostic procedures healthcare professionals may recommend:

Clinical Breast Examination

A physical examination of the breasts and underarm area is often the first step in diagnosing the source of the pain. The healthcare provider will look for abnormalities like lumps, skin changes, or nipple discharge.

Ultrasound or Mammography

If the clinical breast examination raises concerns, the next step is often imaging studies such as a mammogram or an ultrasound. These tests allow for a more detailed look at the breast tissue and help identify tumors, cysts, or other abnormalities.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

An MRI may be recommended in certain cases, especially when other imaging studies are inconclusive, or when a more detailed view is needed. MRI scans can provide a high level of detail and are useful in identifying specific types of tissue abnormalities.


When imaging studies reveal suspicious findings, a biopsy may be necessary. A small tissue sample is taken from the breast or underarm area and examined under a microscope to check for cancerous cells or other abnormalities.

Blood Tests

Although not specifically for diagnosing breast pain, blood tests can be useful in identifying or ruling out infections or other systemic conditions that might be causing lymph node inflammation.

Hormone Tests

For women experiencing cyclic pain that seems to correlate with their menstrual cycle, hormone tests may be conducted to understand the hormonal balance and whether it might contribute to breast pain.

Additional Tests

Additional tests like a chest X-ray, thermography, or other specialized scans might be recommended depending on the suspected underlying condition.

After these diagnostic steps are completed, your healthcare provider will have a clearer picture of what might be causing your pain and can recommend appropriate treatment options tailored to your condition.

Treatment Options and Management Strategies

Once the cause of the pain on the side of the breast near the armpit has been accurately diagnosed, various treatment options may be available. Management strategies will differ based on the underlying condition, severity of the symptoms, and the patient’s overall health. Below are some common treatment avenues that healthcare providers may consider:

Over-the-Counter Pain Medication

For mild cases, especially those related to muscle strain or menstrual cycles, over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be recommended to manage discomfort.

Antibiotics for Infections

If the cause of the pain is an infection such as mastitis, a course of antibiotics will likely be prescribed to clear up the infection.

Hormonal Treatments

For women whose pain is linked to hormonal imbalances or fluctuations, hormone therapy or birth control pills may be considered. However, these treatments have risks and benefits that should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

Surgical Intervention

Surgical intervention may be necessary in more severe cases, such as cancer or large cysts. This could involve a lumpectomy, mastectomy, or drainage of a cyst.

Physical Therapy

For pain arising from muscle strain or certain kinds of physical stress, a course of physical therapy may be advised to correct posture and strengthen muscles, thereby reducing strain and pain.

pain on side of breast near armpit sorenessAlternative Therapies

Some people find relief from treating breast pain through alternative therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic care, or herbal remedies. While the effectiveness of these treatments isn’t universally supported by scientific evidence, they may be considered in consultation with your healthcare provider.

Lifestyle Modifications

Simple changes like wearing a well-fitted bra, reducing caffeine intake, or engaging in regular exercise may alleviate symptoms of mild breast pain. These modifications are generally low-risk, but consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Monitoring and Regular Check-ups

A ‘wait and see’ approach may be advised with regular check-ups to monitor any changes or developments for certain conditions. This is often the case for benign breast conditions that don’t require immediate treatment.

Treating breast pain on the side of the breast near the armpit should always be tailored to the individual’s specific condition and medical history. Always consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan suited to your needs.



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