The Mysteries of Breast Pain

Sep 30, 2020
The Mysteries of Breast Pain
Sometimes your breasts can ache or hurt, and the cause behind them can be a multitude of strange and unknown reasons. We will be exploring all of this today! Hello, warriors! Today we are going to be talking about breast pain.

Sometimes your breasts can ache or hurt, and the cause behind them can be a multitude of strange and unknown reasons. We will be exploring all of this today! 

Hello, warriors! Today we are going to be talking about breast pain. While we are on high alert to breast abnormalities and lumps that appear in the breast sometimes overnight, not all breast pain is caused by or linked to breast cancer. It is of course, very important to stay very aware of this pain, and if it continues. As we've mentioned before, any changes to your breasts need to be brought to your doctor's attention right away. They could be an early sign of something potentially very dangerous or something that has no explanation at all. Breast pain, technically called "mastodynia", often has no known cause. Your breast tissue is affected by many things like your hormones, your stress, infection, or illnesses elsewhere in the body, and your caffeine intake. Breast pain can be intermittent, sharp and shooting, dull and constant, or a burning sensation. While breast pain isn't necessarily a sign of breast cancer, it is a sign that something abnormal is going on.

Breast pain can be sharp, dull, constant, or intermittent. Breast pain can have a multitude of causes including but not limited to stress, caffeine intake, hormone imbalances, musculoskeletal trigger points, and abnormal changes to the breast tissue. There are several ways to investigate causes like lab work and imaging. If you are experiencing breast pain, contact us for a consultation to discuss potential causes and treatment options, and to have a clinical breast exam with a licensed provider. Here at TBP, a clinical breast exam, imaging, and lab work are often tools we use to find out what's causing that pain and what you can do to alleviate it. If you are experiencing breast pain, we are happy to see you in the office for an exam and work up. Today we are going to be expanding on what breast pain could and could not be, and diving more into mastodynia. 

Your Period 

First and foremost, breast pain is common and something many women go through. It can be a consistent pain or it can only happen occasionally. One of the most common occurrences of breast pain is in the few days leading up to your period. This is a normal occurrence and this mild or moderate pain can appear in both breasts. According to Healthline, the fluctuating hormone levels that appear in your body during and leading up to your period are what's to blame. Your breasts can feel tender and even swell during these times. You will have a spike in your estrogen and progesterone production levels during your cycle. Estrogen will cause you breast ducts to enlarge and progesterone production will cause the milk glands to swell. Both of these reactions will cause soreness in your breasts. The pain can be felt throughout the month too, and have no connection to your period. 


Breast pain can also occur during menopause. During the twelve months leading up to menopause, a woman is in a transitioning period called perimenopause. During perimenopause, your levels of estrogen and progesterone fluctuate. Although, these fluctuations are much more dramatic during perimenopause compared to your menstrual cycle, according to Medical News Today. The dull and sore ache that comes from the side effects of these fluctuations can escalate to more of a burning or throbbing. Once you do officially reach menopause, the pain should be finished, but your risk of breast cancer does increase. If you are experiencing strange pains, your doctor needs to be alerted right away. 

Reasons Behind The Pain

There are also many other reasons why your breasts could be hurting.

  1. Breast cysts. The formation of a cyst can cause the milk ducts or glands to change and can cause your breasts to be sore. The cyst itself can also be painful. They commonly get larger during your cycle and shrink back after. This fluctuation of size can cause tenderness and pain, too. It can become precancerous, but it is not very likely. 
  2. Breast Surgery. After having surgery on your breast, it is possible that scar tissue can form and lead to nerve damage or inflammation. Both will make your breasts tender and can be very painful. 
  3. Fibrocystic Breast Changes. These changes can make the breasts lumpy, swollen, and very tender. The cause is linked to a build-up of fibrous tissue and fluid-filled cysts and can cause nipple discharge. It is a harmless and common condition. It is not linked to a high risk of breast cancer. A healthy diet with a low intake of sodium and caffeine can help prevent or alleviate it. 
  4. Medications. Some medications are linked to causing breast pain. According to Medical News Today, these medications include reproductive hormones, contraceptives, mental health medication, steroids, cardiovascular treatments, and more. 
  5. Cancer. Breast pain is rarely linked to cancer, but it is still a possibility that needs to be mentioned. Inflammatory breast cancer and some cancerous tumors can lead to breast pain. If you have pain or a lump that doesn't leave after your cycle, pain that has no clear cause or doesn't go away, or any pain symptoms connected to infection are some of the most common signs that your pain is connected to cancer and needs to be checked out right away. 


Since breast pain is so common and is something many women will have to deal with, what are some ways to deal with the pain? Some of the best management steps are all linked to self-care. 

  1. Keep a low-fat diet full of grains, fruits, and vegetables. 
  2. Wear a supportive bra during the day, a sports bra while you're active, and if needed wear a bra while you sleep. 
  3. Limit your caffeine intake; coffee, soda, chocolate, and tea along with salt all need to be used in moderation. 
  4. Stay active and keep a healthy weight. 
  5. Apply cold or hot compresses to the sore area on the breast.
  6. Over the counter pain medications. 
  7. Try and keep your stress and anxiety levels low. 

Breast pain can be scary if you don't know what's going on. We hope this blog sheds some light on what you're going through, and we hope it calmed your nerves. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to reach out. Be well out there, we know that you're fighting hard. You are not alone in this, and you never will be!