Are Painful Arms or Underarms a Sign of Pregnancy?

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Written by Shandra Williams

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People can experience pain and discomfort in their arms and underarms for various reasons. They sometimes pull muscles, twist something the wrong way, or otherwise injure themselves. But what about pregnancy; can painful arms or underarms be a sign of that?

Painful arms, shoulders, and underarms can be signs of pregnancy, but they’re not always the most reliable sign. Additionally, sore and tender armpits are more likely a pregnancy sign than sore arms. Before jumping to conclusions, you should always check for other signs that you might be pregnant.

This article will further discuss how and why these can be early pregnancy signs. It will also outline some of the other reasons for sore arms. 

Are Sore or Painful Arms a Sign of Early Pregnancy?

Sore and painful arms aren’t usually an early sign of pregnancy, but you can experience some pain in your arms, shoulders, and wrists throughout your entire pregnancy. However, unless you have other pregnancy signs, your sore arms are probably due to something else.

woman suffering from painful arm

It’s not uncommon for women to have sore and painful arms while they’re pregnant, but that alone isn’t enough to be a reliable “early pregnancy” sign.

After all, sore arms could be caused by any number of things, including soreness from lifting something heavy, having a hardcore workout session, or wrestling with a large, unruly puppy on a leash. Strains, bruising, overexertion, and torn ligaments could also be the culprit. 

However, if you’re experiencing unexpected pain, soreness, tingling, burning, or itching in your arms, along with other early pregnancy signs, you may want to get tested. Here are some things to watch for: 

The most common types of arm pain associated with pregnancy are shoulder pain and wrist pain. And yes, pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome is a thing (source: The Royal Women’s Hospital).

When you become pregnant, your body releases new pregnancy hormones. These can make you retain fluid, which can, in turn, squish the nerves in your wrists. If this happens, you may have aches, “pins and needles,” or even finger numbness. 

Shoulder pain also happens occasionally – usually because the relaxin released by your body relaxes the connective tissue in your shoulders, leading to aches and pains (source: Healthline).

If the pain is in the tip of your shoulder and severe, get to your doctor immediately. Should tip pain could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy that’s causing bleeding in your abdomen. If untreated, this medical condition could become extremely dangerous.

Does it Matter if it’s Left or Right Arm Pain?

If you’re having pain only in one arm, that could be an important indicator of what’s wrong with you. Pain in the right arm or shoulder while pregnant could mean you have gallstones or preeclampsia, both of which should be treated right away.

If your pain is primarily in your left arm, this is less likely a sign of pregnancy and more a sign of a potential heart attack (source: Medical News Today). 

As we all know, a heart attack is very serious, so if you’re suddenly experiencing sharp, severe pain in your left arm with no precipitating reasons, get to the hospital immediately. 

Hopefully, it’s just gas pain. However, you do not want to take a chance with a heart attack.   

Is Underarm or Armpit Pain a Sign of Pregnancy?

Underarm or armpit pain can be a sign of pregnancy and is often a symptom many pregnant women have. This pain goes along with the pain and tenderness in your breasts. It often moves into your lymph nodes and the armpit area. 

If the pain is steady, achy, and dull, it’s quite probable that it’s a pregnancy-related pain. That’s especially true if your breasts also feel swollen and heavy (source: Healthline).

woman with sweaty underarm

Are Sweaty or Itchy Underarms a Sign of Early Pregnancy?

Sweaty or itchy underarms could be pregnancy-related, but they aren’t reliable early pregnancy signs. Usually, these symptoms tend to occur later on during the second and third trimesters (or late in the first) after most women already know they’re pregnant. 

Many pregnant women suffer from dry, itchy skin and increased sweating while pregnant. These common symptoms go hand-in-hand with all the hormonal changes a pregnant woman’s body goes through to prepare for growing and delivering a baby. Rashes aren’t uncommon either (source: Walden University).

Night sweats are also typical of many pregnancies and can further exacerbate existing skin conditions. Still, by themselves, itchy, sweaty underarms aren’t a reliable early pregnancy sign.

Are Lumps Under the Armpit a Sign of Pregnancy?

Lumps under the armpit can be a sign of pregnancy, but they usually won’t occur until the third trimester or after the baby is born. They’re usually caused by enlarged lymph nodes, cysts, or infections and generally only happen once a mother’s milk starts coming in.

Many pregnant women panic when they see these lumps for the first time, but rarely are they related to cancer (source: Obstetric Excellence).

Instead, they are a pretty common sign of breastfeeding moms and expectant mothers very close to giving birth.

If you’ve been experiencing pain in one or both of your arms, you might be pregnant. However, it’s better not to jump to conclusions unless you’re showing other signs. I hope this article gave you enough information to know whether or not pregnancy is a possibility.