Breast Pain: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Breast pain, also known as mastalgia, is the most common problem that women of all ages face. Breast pain is characterized as a feeling of tenderness, stabbing, soreness, burning sensation and tightness in the tissues of the breast.

The disturbance is mainly caused by oestrogen and progesterone hormone levels in the body. Still, breast pain is commonly regarded as a sign and symptom of breast cancer, which requires proper treatment and medication. Breast pain is treated based on its severity and mildness.

Types of breast pain

There are many types of breast pain, and its kind helps the doctor to cure it quickly. These are the following types of breast pain:

1. Cyclic breast pain

cyclic breast pain starts a week before the beginning of the menstrual cycle in women and goes away with the start of the menstrual cycle because of the changes in hormone levels. It mainly occurs in women of age range from 20-50.

The breast becomes sore and tender, and the pain can occur in either one breast or both breasts, which can also travel to the armpits, shoulder and arm. In most cases, the pain goes away after menopause, but it can start again with the next menstrual cycle.

2. Non-cyclic breast pain

Non-cyclic breast pain is not associated with the women’s menstrual cycle. It is far different from cyclic pain as it can range from mild to severe, indicating the presence of some severe breast diseases like breast cancer and lymphedema.

Unlike cyclic breast pain, non-cyclic breast pain can come and go in irregular periods. The patient starts to feel a stabbing and burning sensation in the breast, and this type of breast pain usually occurs in women of age range from40-50 who are post-menopausal.

Causes of breast pain

There are different causes of breast pain. Some of them are listed below:

1. Hormone fluctuations

Oestrogen and progesterone hormones are released during the menstrual cycle and can cause the breast to swallow, tender and pain. The pain can be mild or severe and sometimes result in very severe pain.

2. Breast cysts

The fat in breast tissues creates cysts in the breast, which results in severe pain. The pain can start from a small hole and become enlarged to the other part of the breast.

Birth control pills: Women who take birth control pills regularly can have breast pain which causes them to suffer mentally and physically.

3. Breastfeeding

After childbirth, women feel pain in their breasts when they feed their babies. It happens because of several reasons, like an infection in the milk ducts or when the breast becomes swelled. This type of breast pain can be cured with proper medication and treatment.

Radiation therapy: During breast cancer treatment, harsh radiation is used, which leaves the breast tendered and sober and causes severe pain.

4. Surgery

Any surgery on the breast causes pain because of the incisions.

5. Anti-depressants

Medication for different and severe diseases like heart diseases and depression can cause severe breast pain, which can last longer with medication.

6. Smoking

Smoking is the most significant cause of breast pain as it promotes the epinephrine levels in the breast tissue.

Symptoms of breast pain

The symptoms of breast pain can vary from mild to severe. If you have severe symptoms, you should immediately go to the doctor because the situation can become alarming. Some of the common signs and symptoms are listed below:

  • Burning sensation in the breast
  • The thickness of the breast
  • Stabbing and swallowing the breast
  • Tenderness and piercing in the breast
  • Discharge of the fluid from the nipples
  • Redness of the breast
  • Severe pain in the breast, which can also travel to the armpits
  • Soreness of the nipples

Risk factors of breast pain

There are the following risk factors for breast pain:

1. Large breast

women with heavier breasts risk cyclic and non-cyclic pain.

2. Surgery

The cuts for surgery can also increase the risk of breast pain, which can go away later.

3. Overdosage of medicines

People who take medications to control hormones and those women who take birth control pills regularly have a high risk of developing breast pain.

4. Improper diet

people with an improper diet like the usage of alcohol and caffeine are at a higher risk of breast pain.

Diagnoses of the breast pain

Breast pain is diagnosed in the following ways:

1. Physical exam

Your doctor can conduct a physical exam of your breast by touching and pressing it. He can examine your abdomen, chest and armpits to inspect the type of pain. He can also ask you about the mildness and severity of the pain, followed by its signs and symptoms.

2. Ultrasound

If the pain in your breast does not go away with the medication, then your doctor can prescribe you to have an ultrasound. During this procedure, the high waves are directed at the infected area, and the computer shows the image of the breast, which helps the doctor to treat the pain more quickly.

3. Mammogram

During this process, x-rays are used to detect the presence of cancerous cells in your breast. Mammograms clearly show the existence of any lump or cancerous substances in the breast.

4. Biopsy

Your doctor can also advise you about the conduction of the biopsy if he suspects any lump in the breast. In this process, the fluid from the breast is removed and sent to the laboratory for clear identification.

Treatment of the breast pain

Cyclic and non-cyclic breast pain go away on their own; therefore, it does not require any treatment. But in some cases, it gets severe and needs proper treatment, and it is treated in the following ways;

1. Medication

The very first way to treat breast pain is medication. Doctors prescribed anti-inflammatory medicines like paracetamol, aspirin and Motrin. Your doctor can also prescribe you to lower your sodium intake and increase your calcium supplements intake for quick relief from breast pain.

2. Diet

if you are experiencing breast pain, you need to improve your diet. You need to eat low-fat food, avoid alcohol and caffeine and eat fibrous food to treat your breast pain.

3. Massage and therapy

one of the common and oldest ways to relieve breast pain is massage and treatment, which has also proven helpful in treating breast pain.

4. Surgery

if your breast pain gets severe or the diagnosis indicates breast cancer, doctors advise you to contact a surgeon for immediate pain relief. In surgery, the breast is removed, or the tissues of the breast are removed to treat the breast pain permanently.

References:

  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-pain/symptoms-causes/syc20350423#:~:text=Most%20times%2C%20breast%20pain%20signals,changes%20needs%20to%20be%20evaluated.
  • https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15469-breast-pain-mastalgia
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/breast-pain
  • https://breastcancernow.org/information-support/have-i-got-breast-cancer/benign-breast-conditions/breast-pain
  • https://www.beaumont.org/services/womens-services/breast-care-services/breast-pain
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