Frequently Asked Questions
What is Breast Pain?
During puberty, the size of the breast increases because of the increased estrogen. Various hormones cause changes in the tissues of the breast during the menstrual cycle and hence cause pain or discomfort. Occasional pain the breast is normal as they don’t pain typically. Mastalgia or Breast Pain is a common condition in women. Usually, the pain is of 2 types:
- Cyclical Pain - this pain in the breast is related to the menstrual cycle. Hence, once the periods are over, the pain subsides.
- Non-Cyclical Pain - this type of pain has many causes such as injury to the breast. Sometimes pain in the surrounding tissue or muscle can be misjudged as Breast Pain. To find the cause for this kind of pain is hard, but non-cyclic pain is uncommon.
The severity of Breast Pain or Mastalgia varies from a mild tingling sensation to very sharp pain. Usually, during Mastalgia, the woman experience breast tenderness or breasts feeling fuller than usual.
What are the causes of Breast Pain?
The two most common causes of breast pain are:
- Hormone Fluctuations
- Fibrocystic Breasts (lumpy breast)
Another cause for Breast Pain is Breast Feeding and the factors responsible are:
- Mastitis - Infection in milk ducts
- Engorgement - Breast become overfull
- Improper latch - If the baby hasn’t latched properly to the breast
Other causes of Breast Pain are:
- Diet - Women consuming high fat and carbs food are at a higher risk of Breast Pain.
- Extramammary concerns - Sometimes irritation to the chest can also cause Breast Pain.
- Breast size - Women with the bigger breasts that are out of proportion may experience discomfort on the neck, back, and shoulders.
- Breast surgery - Scar tissue formed after the surgery may cause pain
- Medication - Medication for heart diseases, anti-depressants, hormone therapy, etc can contribute to breast pain, but instead of terminating the medication, the individual should consult a doctor.
- Smoking - Increased epinephrine levels in the breast can cause Breast Pain.
Can Breast Pain be linked to breast cancer?
Generally, Breast Pain is not linked with Breast Cancer. But lumpy breast causes the tumors hard to be diagnosed on the mammogram. If the breast pain is localized in one place for weeks together and the pain also is consistent then one should consult a doctor.
What are the diagnostic tests for Breast Pain?
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
What can be done to reduce Breast Pain?
The treatment options vary depending on whether the Breast Pain is cyclic or non-cyclic. Treatment of cyclic pain include:
- Wearing a bra that is supportive all the time during pain
- Lowering sodium intake
- Taking calcium supplements
- Oral contraceptives may help the hormones to be at normal levels
- Estrogen blockers can help as well
- Taking pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, etc.
However, before using any medications to relive from the breast pain, pleases consult the doctor and discuss the treatment plan and the risks & benefits of using medications for breast pain.
For non-cyclic pain, the treatment depends on the cause of breast pain.
When to consult a doctor regarding Breast pain?
If the Breast Pain is sudden with chest pain, numbness, and tingling; immediately seek medical attention. If the individual suffering from breast pain that
- Interrupts daily activities
- Lasts more than 2 weeks
- Is with lumps that grow and becomes thicker
- Is concentrating on a specific area
- Worsens with the time