Pain – breast; Mastalgia; Mastodynia; Breast tenderness
Breast pain involves any discomfort or pain in the breast, such as premenstrual tenderness.
There are many possible causes for breast pain. For example, hormonal fluctuations related to menstruation or pregnancy are often responsible for breast tenderness. Some degree of swelling and tenderness just before your period is normal. The question is how tolerable (or intolerable) the discomfort is to you.
Although many women with pain in one or both breasts understandably fear breast cancer, breast pain is NOT a common symptom of cancer.
Boys and men have breast tissue. If a male has breast tissue that is visible, this is called gynecomastia. As a normal part of development, adolescent boys can have some breast swelling and tenderness. Like breast tenderness in women, this is due to hormonal changes.
Some degree of breast tenderness is normal, caused by hormonal fluctuations from:
Soon after childbirth, your breasts may become engorged with milk. This can be very painful and is usually accompanied by swelling. If you also have an area of redness, call your health care provider.
Other common causes of breast pain include:
Fibrocystic breast tissue is a common condition. It involves breast lumps and bumps throughout the breast tissue that tend to be more tender just before your menstrual period.
Certain medications may also cause breast pain, including digitalis preparations, aldomet, aldactone and other potassium-sparing diuretics, anadrol, and chlorpromazine.
Shingles can lead to pain felt in the breast if the painful blistering rash appears on the skin over one of your breasts.
For tips on how to manage pain from fibrocystic breasts, see breast lumps.
Talk to your doctor about possibly taking birth control pills. These can help relieve pain.
If you have a breast infection, you will need antibiotics. Look for signs of infection like localized redness, nipple discharge, or fever. Contact your doctor if you have these signs.
Just after an injury to the breast occurs, apply a cold compress such as an ice pack (wrapped in a cloth — don’t apply directly to the skin) for 15 to 20 minutes. Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen to reduce the likelihood of developing persistent breast pain or swelling.
Call your health care provider if
Call your doctor if you have:
What to expect at your health care provider’s office
Your health care provider will perform a breast examination and ask questions about your breast pain, such as:
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include the following:
Treatment may include the following:
Your health care provider should schedule a follow-up visit in case the symptoms have not resolved in a given period of time. He or she may recommend consultation with a specialist if the symptoms do not go away or if you have a complicated condition.
Wear a well-fitting brassiere for support, especially if your breasts are large.
Perform a monthly breast self-exam 3-5 days after your period (when the breast tissue is the least tender). This is important to feel for any changes in your breast tissue. If you detect any change from the previous month, it is important to notify your doctor.