Breast pain (Mastalgia) is a confusing and troubling issue for many women. It is characterized by pain and tenderness that may occur during your period or not seem to follow any pattern at all.
There are two main types of breast pain – cyclic and non-cyclic.
The more common of the two, cyclic breast pain is caused by monthly hormonal changes. Patients usually describe it as a heaviness or soreness in both breasts that travels to the armpit area and sometimes down the arm. Often seen in younger women, cyclic breast pain almost always disappears after the monthly menstrual cycle ends. Treatment is rarely necessary and when the woman enters menopause, symptoms usually disappear.
Non-cyclic pain may be a sign of a more serious condition. Often striking in women between the ages of thirty and fifty, this condition is often described as a stinging or burning pain in one breast or one particular area of the breast. Sometimes non-cyclic breast pain may be caused by a cyst or fibroadenoma (lumps made of fibrous tissue). It’s important to see a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of non-cyclic breast pain so a treatment program can be started.
What Causes Breast Pain?
There are a few common causes, which include:
- Hormonal changes
- Medication reaction
Breast pain is NOT associated with breast cancer, but in some instances, the lumps causing the pain may be cancerous. Again, always check with your doctor if you see or feel anything unusual.
If you experience breast pain as part of your normal period, over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn), or aspirin (Anacin, Bayer) can provide temporary relief. Remember to follow the package instructions for proper dosage.
Other treatment for breast pain may include
- Birth control
- Magnesium supplement
- Reducing the amount of fat in your diet
- Reducing the amount of caffeine you consume
Exercise and a properly fitting bra can also provide relief from breast pain. Remember to replace your sports bra if it becomes too stretchy to provide support. A well-fitting sports bra should make your breasts almost motionless while working out.
Please contact Dr. Hessel’s office if breast soreness or tenderness is a regular part of your life. We can run tests, recommend medication and get you on the right track to managing breast pain.