14 Possible Causes of Breast Pain: A Useful Guide

Women frequently experience breast pain, commonly known as mastalgia1. It is one of the most common symptoms among women between 15 and 40. About two-thirds of females experience breast pain during their reproductive years.

Other symptoms include soreness, throbbing, acute, stabbing, scorching pain, or tightness in the breast tissue. Want to know about the top causes of breast pain? Keep reading to find out more.

1. Causes of Breast Pain

Causes of Breast Pain
Photo by Michelle Leman/pexels. Copyrights 2018

Just a few of the various possible causes include hormonal changes, incorrect bra fit, and infections. Sometimes, pain from other body regions, such as the neck or back, causes it. Since estrogen levels increase during puberty, the breasts develop. Some women may feel pain or discomfort due to changes in breast tissue2 brought on by various hormones during the menstrual cycle.

Pain can affect anyone, including males, women, and transgender people, whether it is chronic or only rarely present. Gynecomastia, a disease, is the most typical cause of breast pain in men. It describes an increase in breast gland tissue brought on by an estrogen and testosterone hormone imbalance.

One or both breasts may be affected by gynecomastia3, occasionally unevenly. Gynecomastia can sometimes unevenly affect one or both breasts. Hormone therapy may induce breast soreness in transgender women.

In transgender males, the small amount of breast tissue that may remain after a mastectomy 4may be the cause of their breast pain.

Breast pain is typically not a sign of breast cancer, but if it coexists with other breast abnormalities like a lump or discharge, a person should consult a doctor.

2. Types of Breast Pain

The two basic categories are cyclical and non-cyclical breast pain.

Types of Breast Pain, their Evaluation and Management | Dr.Rajeev Agarwal

2.1. Cyclic Breast Pain

Cyclic breast pain varies with the woman’s menstrual cycle. Women may be experiencing breast pain or soreness together with menstruation. A few weeks before the start of their menstruation, many women report breast pain and soreness.

About 75% of all breast pain is cyclic. Cyclic pain mainly affects women between the ages of 20 and 50 and usually goes away after menopause. Both breasts’ top and outer portions frequently experience cyclic breast pain, which can also be felt in the underarm region.

2.2. Noncyclic Breast Pain

It doesn’t typically come and go in a predictable pattern and has nothing to do with the menstrual cycle. There are numerous possible causes of breast pain, including breast injury, which might result in noncyclic breast pain.

Noncyclical pain may occasionally originate from nearby muscles or tissues rather than the breast. Most sufferers of noncyclic breast pain are post-menopausal women between the ages of 40 and 50. It is far less frequent than cyclic pain and has more complex origins. Many women who experience the pain describe it as tightening, burning, or breast soreness. It could be persistent or irregular.

3. Symptoms of Breast Pain

Your symptoms will vary depending on whether you have cyclic or noncyclic breast pain. If you experience some of these signs, your breast discomfort is probably cyclical, which is connected to the menstrual cycles:

  • Breasts enlarge or appear lumpy.
  • Both breasts hurt, primarily the top and outer portions.
  • The pain occasionally spreads to the armpits.
  • If you’re approaching menopause or in your reproductive years (around your 20s and 30s).

Your doctor might advise you to use oral contraceptives to lessen cyclical breast pain, or they might adjust the dosage you now take. They could also advise you to reduce caffeine intake or try over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium5.

Noncyclic breast pain has slightly distinct symptoms, which are as follows:

  • Only one part of your breast will experience pain.
  • A lump or pain that persists following your menstrual cycle.
  • A more pronounced, intense breast pain.
  • A burning, stabbing sensation in that specific area.

These noncyclic breast pain symptoms may be transient or persistent. Everyone’s severity of pain can vary, and for some people, it may even spread to their armpit and shoulders.

4. Top 14 Causes of Breast Pain

Several conditions might lead to breast pain. Most of them are not significant, but some can be, so it’s crucial to consult your doctor. Some of the common causes of breast pain are:

Two Minute Techniques - Breast Pain

4.1. Hormonal Fluctuations

Doctors are unsure about what are the causes of breast pain. It may occur at several stages of your reproductive life, including puberty, your period, or when you have premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pregnancy, commonly in the first trimester, breastfeeding, and menopause.

Most breast pain appears to correlate with your body’s levels of progesterone and estrogen hormones.

Your menstrual period may be on the way if your nipples are sore. Once you have your period, that soreness and additional breast pain should subside. Additionally, nipples may become sore and swollen during pregnancy as well.

4.2. Chest Wall Pain

The chest wall might hurt for a variety of reasons. Even though it isn’t originating from the breast, this pain can occasionally feel like it does. The severity of the pain might vary, ranging from a small portion of the breast to a large area. Burning or intense pain, arm ache that travels down, chest wall pain that intensifies with movement

Possible causes of chest wall pain include bruises, broken ribs, gallstones, angina, and inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Many treatments may be necessary depending on the underlying cause, although they frequently involve pain management and avoiding activities that aggravate the pain.

4.3. Breast Cancer

Is Breast Pain a Symptom of Cancer? | Breast Cancer

Breast cells mutate and start to grow out of control to develop into breast cancer. Most breast cancers don’t hurt, although certain tumours, including inflammatory breast cancer, do. However, be aware that breast cancer is not always indicated by pain in one or both of your breasts. Numerous factors can contribute to breast soreness and other types of discomfort.

A lump in the breast, pain in any area of the breast, any nipple discharge, dimpling or irritation of the breast skin, flaky, inflamed skin around the nipple, breast tenderness, and changes in the breast’s shape or size are all additional symptoms that may be present.

Breast cancer can be treatable with surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, and biological therapy. More than one of these treatments is frequently given to patients.

4.4. Breast Cysts

Cysts in the breast are fluid-filled sacs. They are more typical in premenopausal females, non-cancerous, and somewhat soft. Cysts and increased fibrous tissue growth are adverse effects of this. Fibrocystic changes or fibrous breast tissue are terms that refer to this. A breast cyst6 can be one of the causes of breast pain and nipple discharge in some people, but not in all cases.

They don’t require treatment unless the cysts are extremely large or uncomfortable. If therapy is needed, it entails a needle draining the fluid.

4.5. Fibrocystic Breast Changes

Fibrocystic Breast, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

Most women develop fibrocystic breast changes between the ages of 20 and 50. It results in fluid retention in the breasts, which causes lumps, pain, and breast swelling. Though it usually causes no harm, it can be painful. Unless your symptoms are severe, you need not need therapy. Hormones are probably involved in this.

4.6. Fatty Acid Imbalance

Oils from plants and animals both contain these acids. Your breasts may be more susceptible to hormones if they are imbalanced in your cells. Try eating less fat to lessen your symptoms. Additionally, your doctor could advise consuming a lot of complex carbohydrates.

Some medical professionals believe that evening primrose oil can also assist in normalizing fatty acid levels.

4.7. Extramammary Breast Pain

It seems as though your breasts are the source of this pain. Although it comes from somewhere else, the chest wall is typically the source. Rest, NSAIDs, and occasionally cortisone injections are usually effective in relieving pain.

4.8. Breastfeeding

Nipple soreness might occur while breastfeeding as your infant feeds on them. It might have a pinching sensation. Additionally, it could result in cracked and bleeding nipples. Ointments, or even massaging a few droplets of milk on your nipples to soften them before you start, can help to relieve the pain.

4.9. Breast Infection

Mastitis can affect people of any age, though it typically affects breastfeeding moms. They may also become irritated if your clothing rubs up against your nipples. It might allow bacteria inside that could cause an infection.

Your nipples may feel stabbing, shooting, or burning if you have thrush, a yeast infection of the breast and nipple. Additionally, you might notice redness and dry or flaky skin.

4.10. Injury

Breast pain may result from injury to a specific breast area, such as after surgery or implants. It is usually not serious, despite the pain. An injury may occasionally result in blood clots and breast vein swelling.

4.11. Medications

Many prescription medications, including infertility treatments and oral birth control pills, may be associated with breast pain. Additionally, hormone replacement therapy such as estrogen and progesterone can be the cause of breast pain.

Certain antidepressants, such as SSRI antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants), may relate to the causes of breast pain. The medications used to treat mental illnesses, high blood pressure, heart disease, and some antibiotics can also induce breast pain.

4.12. Skin Conditions

The conditions referred to as “dermatitis” include eczema and contact dermatitis. A rash or swelling may appear around your nipple if you have the skin condition dermatitis. Talk to your doctor to learn more about these skin issues’ potential causes and treatments.

4.13. Breast Size

Women with heavy and oversized breasts may experience noncyclic breast pain. In addition to hurting your breasts, it can also cause pain in your back, neck, and shoulders. Reduction surgery can be beneficial but also painful if tissue is injured during the procedure.

Your breasts can stay in place with the help of a supportive bra. Wearing a sports bra while working out and to bed can also be beneficial.

4.14. Excessive Caffeine Use

Some people report that their breast pain improves when they cut back or stop using caffeine, although further research is necessary.

5. When to See A Doctor?

Seek emergency medical assistance if your breast pain is sudden, followed by chest pain, tingling, or numbness in your extremities. These signs of a heart attack are possible.

If you have pain, schedule a consultation with your doctor:

  • Limits your ability to do our regular activities
  • last longer than two weeks.
  • Any form of clear or cloudy nipple discharge.
  • You become awake from sleep
  • Seems focused on a single area of your breast.
  • A breast swelling or lump.
  •  It seems to deteriorate over time.

Regardless of whether you suspect breast cancer, it is always advisable to have any form of breast pain evaluated by a specialist. Although the chance of breast cancer is very low in patients whose primary symptom is breast pain, it’s still crucial to follow your doctor’s advice if they advise an examination.

6. Diagnosis of Breast Pain

Mastalgia | Symptoms | Causes | Treatment | Diagnosis aptyou.in

Your doctor will probably do a physical checkup. Your doctor will inquire about your signs and symptoms, including the duration and severity of your pain. They’ll check your breasts for any potential lumps throughout the breast exam.

During the examination, they can also ask you to bend forward to determine whether the pain originates inside your chest or breast.

They could also advise breast imaging tests like mammograms or ultrasounds to see your breast tissue. They might be able to spot cysts in your breast tissue as a result. Your doctor might do a needle biopsy if you have cystic breasts. In order to take a tiny tissue sample for testing, a thin needle is introduced into the cyst during this process.

7. Managing Breast Pain

People can do many things to reduce the pain of mastalgia. These consist of:

How to manage Breast Pain ft. Dr. Rohan Khandelwal | Dr Anjali Kumar | Maitri
  •  Use a comfortable, supporting bra.
  •  Using over-the-counter painkillers
  •  If at all feasible, avoid hormone therapy.
  • Get rid of any medications that have a reputation for exacerbating breast pain.
  • Limiting or quitting the use of soft drinks, coffee, tea, and chocolate
  • Using breast-specific hot or cold compresses.
  • Consume more complex carbohydrates and a low-fat diet.
  • Engaging in routine exercise
  • Using relaxation techniques to ease tension, stress, and anxiety

Before using self-care methods, it is wise to talk to your doctor to be sure they are appropriate. Medical intervention could be necessary in some situations.

7.1. Treatment of Breast Pain

Cyclical breast pain doesn’t need as much care because it’s a regular aspect of your menstrual cycle. However, noncyclic breast pain symptoms can be manageable with some painkillers, including:

Breast Pain Home Remedy | Breast Pain Treatment In Hindi

8. In The End

If your breast pain is severe, your doctor may advise Tamoxifen or Danazol as a prescription medication. These two medications have some negative consequences, so it’s critical to discuss them with your doctor before using them to see whether they will be helpful for your specific situation.

Let’s hope you now have a clearer understanding of the causes of breast pain. If you still have questions regarding breast pain and the causes of breast pain, talk to your healthcare professionals before making any changes in your daily exercise routine.

Please leave a comment below if you have any suggestions regarding this post. Thank you so much, and have a glorious day!

If you liked this one, here’s something more to read.

9. FAQs

Q1. What Are the Main Reasons for Breast Pain?

Chest pain can have many causes. Breast pain can be caused by hormonal changes from menstruation, pregnancy, puberty, menopause, and breastfeeding. Breast pain can also be associated with fibrocystic breast disease, but it is a rare symptom of breast cancer.

Q2. What Type of Breast Pain Is Normal?

This hormone causes your breasts to swell and can cause tenderness. “Breast tenderness during your period is normal,” says Wright. Nothing to worry about. “

Q3. What Kind of Breast Pain Indicates Cancer?

Common breast cancer is usually painless when discovered. When the tumour is big enough to feel it, it feels like a stone in the breast tissue.

  1. Ooi, Soo Liang, et al. “Vitex agnus-castus for the treatment of cyclic mastalgia: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Journal of Women’s Health 29.2 (2020): 262-278. ↩︎
  2. Goff, Stephanie L., and David N. Danforth. “The role of immune cells in breast tissue and immunotherapy for the treatment of breast cancer.” Clinical breast cancer 21.1 (2021): e63-e73. ↩︎
  3. Swerdloff, Ronald S., and Jason CM Ng. “Gynecomastia: etiology, diagnosis, and treatment.” Endotext [Internet] (2023). ↩︎
  4. de Boniface, Jana, Robert Szulkin, and Anna LV Johansson. “Survival after breast conservation vs mastectomy adjusted for comorbidity and socioeconomic status: a Swedish national 6-year follow-up of 48 986 women.” JAMA surgery 156.7 (2021): 628-637. ↩︎
  5. Saji, Rinnu Sara, et al. “Spectroscopic and quantum computational study on naproxen sodium.” Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy 226 (2020): 117614. ↩︎
  6. Chang, Chuan-Yu, et al. “SVM-enabled intelligent genetic algorithmic model for realizing efficient universal feature selection in breast cyst image acquired via ultrasound sensing systems.” Sensors 20.2 (2020): 432. ↩︎

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