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Breast Pain (mastalgia)

Breast Pain & Breast Cancer, Types, Symptoms of mastitis, fibroadenoma, lump in breast and cancer: Homeopathy Treatment & Remedies
Breast Pain is pain in chest. It can effect one or both breasts, it is medically termed as mastalgia. Nearly 70 percent of women experience breast pain at some point of their life. The severity of breast pain varies from patient to patient, one patient may have simple discomfort 0r uneasiness while other may have unbearable pain. There are many possible causes of breast pain. Slight tenderness and swelling in breasts before menses is common. Though breast pain is not normally associated with breast cancer, women who experience any breast abnormalities, including breast pain, should consult their physicians.

Causes of breast pain:

Injury or trauma – Any injury to the breast or surrounding tissue can cause breast pain.
Shingles or Herpes Zoster- This skin disease can lead to severe pain in the breast if the painful blistering rash appears on the skin over one of the breasts.
Breast cyst – It is a lump in the breast which is usually unilateral and usually causes unilateral pain.
Acute breast abscess – Local abscess along with marked tenderness.
Mastitis – It is an infection of the breast tissue which causes pain, swelling and redness.
Puberty - Puberty can cause breast pain not only in girls but boys also. 
Pregnancy – Breast tenderness along with pain tends to be more common during first trimester of pregnancy especially in females who conceive at a young age. 
Lactation – Soon after delivery a women's breast may swell with milk and cause pain. Breast pain may occur while breast feeding.
Breast cancer – Lump in the breast is the most common presentation of cancer of breast. However, breast pain is not a common symptom of cancer.
Premenstrual syndrome – Just before the beginning of menstrual flow a female may have breast pain along with tenderness and feeling of heaviness with other constitutional changes.
Costochondritis – There is inflammation at the junction of ribs and sternum.
Angina pectoris – It is a discomfort resulting from acute myocardial ischemia which occurs when myocardial oxygen demand exceeds supply. Pain is usually retrosternal for a short time period.
Breast Engorgement – This is painful enlargement of the milk producing cells. The breasts are filled with milk and cause pain.

Types of Breast Pain:

On the basis of frequency of occurrence, breast pain can be cyclical or non-cyclical.
Cyclical Breast Pain: Cyclic breast pain accounts for nearly two-thirds of all breast pain. It is related to menstrual cycle. This pain occurs due to monthly changes in the hormone levels in females. The female usually feels the pain in both breasts. It is generally described as a heaviness or soreness that radiates to the armpit and arm. The pain is usually most severe before a menstrual period and is often relieved when a period ends. If breast pain is accompanied by lumpiness, cysts (accumulated packets of fluid), or areas of thickness, the condition is usually called fibrocystic change. 
Causes of Cyclical Breast Pain: Cyclical breast pain is not due to any hormonal disease or any problem in the breast itself. It is not related to any other breast conditions. It is due to periodic hormonal changes and usually not dangerous.

Non-Cyclical Breast Pain: Non-cyclical breast pain is far less common than cyclical breast pain and is not related to a woman's menstrual cycle. It may occur in one breast only or both the breasts may be effected. This breast pain may either be continuous or random in occurrence. Non-cyclical breast pain is often described as a sharp, burning pain that occurs in one area of a breast(s). 
Causes of Non-Cyclical Breast Pain: There are various causes of breast pain which is not cyclic in nature and usually independent of hormones. The causes are discussed below:

  • Injury or trauma to the breast
  • Tumours of the breast
  • Breast abscess
  • Pain coming or radiating from chest wall under the breast rather than the breast itself.
  • Pain due to Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

Does Breast Pain Indicate Breast Cancer?

Women with breast pain often worry that the pain is caused by breast cancer. Though breast pain is not normally associated with breast cancer, women who experience any breast abnormalities, including breast pain, should consult their physicians. Pain is usually not an early symptom of breast cancer but in some cases painful lumps are caused by breast cancer. 
In particular, seek immediate medical advice if any of the following is seen:

  • A lump in the breasts or under the arms
  • Family history of carcinoma of the breast
  • Swelling and redness in the breast.
  • Discharge from a lump or nipple.

Investigations of breast pain:

In case of pain in breasts following tests are recommended to rule out carcinoma of breasts:

  • Clinical examination of breasts
  • Mammography
  • Ultrasonography
  • Biopsy
  • FNAC


Updated: November, 7 2015

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