Breast Pain: Common Causes & Treatment

Breast Pain: Common Causes & Treatment

What do I need to Know about Breast Pain?

Concerned about breast pain? As much as 70% of women experience breast pain—also called mastalgia— at some point in their lives. The pain may feel mild, achy sharp or severe and may come and go. Breast pain commonly affects the upper, outer area of both breasts and sometimes the pain can spread to the arms.

There are two common types of breast pain:

Cyclic Pain—the most common type of breast pain. It may be caused by normal monthly changes in hormones and usually occurs in both breasts. People generally describe cyclic pain as a heaviness or soreness that radiates to the armpit and sometimes the arm. The breast pain is usually at its worst before a menstrual period and often relieved when a period ends. Cyclic breast pain occurs most often in younger women, goes away without any treatment and usually disappears at menopause.

Noncyclic Pain—most common in women 30-50 years of age and may occur in only one breast. Noncyclic pain is described as a burning, sharp pain in one part of a breast. Most people with noncyclic pain find it is caused by a cyst or fibroadenoma.

Breast Pain Causes

There are a number of causes for breast pain which can include:

  • Changes in hormone levels
  • Puberty changes
  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause
  • Medication use
  • Stress

Treatment: How can you relieve breast pain?

Some cases of breast pain don’t need any treatment and the pain improves on its own. If your breast pain doesn’t improve or go away, it may require treatment. Here are several self-help measures you can try:

  • Wearing a well-fitted and supportive bra
  • Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen
  • Wearing a sports bra while exercising
  • Reducing your intake of caffeine
  • Reducing your saturated fat intake
  • Avoiding smoking

If your breast pain lasts longer than 3 weeks, and you have any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with one of our experienced providers right away:

  • Lump in your breast or armpit
  • Discharge from lump or nipple
  • A family history of breast cancer
  • Swelling or redness in your breast
  • Any symptoms of pregnancy