Breast Pain

Types of Breast Pain

Breast pain is very common and most women will experience it at some time in their life.

Breast pain is any discomfort, tenderness, or pain in the breast or underarm region, and it may occur for a number of reasons. Generally, breast pain is not a sign of breast cancer.

Cyclical mastalgia

Cyclical mastalgia, the most common type of breast pain, is pain associated with the menstrual cycle.​​

Women often experience a dull, burning or aching pain, although they can also have sharp & shooting pains which spread from the breast to the armpit.

Cyclical breast pain may affect one breast more than the other.

It usually starts ≥5 days before a menstrual cycle and eases when the period starts.

Non-cyclical mastalgia

Affects around a third of women with breast pain. Timing of this pain is not associated with the menstrual cycle.

Possible causes of non-cyclical breast pain include:

  • Large, pendulous breasts
  • Diet, lifestyle

  • HRT

  • Mastitis

  • Pregnancy,

  • Trauma

  • Cysts

 

Chest wall pain

This is pain that seems to be coming from the breast but is actually due to problems in the underlying structures.

  • e.g.

    • Shoulder (e.g. scapula bursitis)

    • Neck or back pain

    • Lung disease

    • Heart problems

    • Reflux

    • Costochondritis (inflammation of the rib joints)

Breast pain and cancer

For many women, the biggest concern about breast soreness is that it is a sign of cancer; however, breast soreness is not often associated with cancer and it does not put you at any increased risk of breast cancer.

If you experience a change in your symptoms that is not normal for you, you should seek medical advice.

Treatment

Pain relief

  • Anti-inflammatory gels

  • Compresses (warm or cold)

Prevention

  • Wear a supportive, well-fitting bra

  • Reduce caffeine intake (coffee, tea, chocolate & cola drinks)

  • Reduce dietary fat

  • Stop or reduce smoking

  • Evening Primrose Oil