Overview of Breast Pain

breast pain is the medical term used to describe breast pain. This pain is so common that as many as 70% of women will seek help from a healthcare provider at some point in their lives, and it’s usually not related to breast cancer. It can be worrying, but it’s usually not a sign of a bigger problem, such as cancer.

Still, breast pain can be uncomfortable and interfere with a person’s life, and can be treated. An accurate diagnosis is important so that appropriate treatment can be recommended.

This article provides an overview of mastalgia, including its symptoms, types, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.


Depending on the cause, breast pain may include:

  • breast tenderness
  • severe burning pain
  • tight breast tissue

Pain may be constant or only occasionally. It can range from mild to severe.


Mastalgia can be divided into two distinct categories: periodic and aperiodic. Causes vary, depending on the type of mastalgia it is.

Cyclic breast pain

Cyclic mastalgia is breast pain associated with hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle, which can affect how your breasts feel over the course of a month.

Pain is often described as a dull, heavy pain that is not concentrated in any particular area. It affects the breast and armpit areas.

Cyclic mastalgia is usually at its worst shortly before the start of the cycle, diminishes on the first day of your period, and goes away within the next few days. If hormones are the cause, symptoms should decrease at certain times in your monthly cycle.

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Since this type of pain is associated with menstruation, premenopausal women are most likely to experience it. Cyclic breast pain may also be associated with oral contraceptives and HRT.

Fibrocystic breast changes can cause breast pain, swelling, or thickening, involving the lobes, ducts, and connective tissue.

aperiodic mastalgia

Aperiodic mastalgia is breast pain that does not change with menstrual cycles or hormonal changes. In postmenopausal women, most breast pain is aperiodic, but you can also have it before menopause.

The pain can be described as severe or burning and is usually felt only in one breast and one specific area of ​​that breast. It’s also called “trigger zone” breast pain because you can pinpoint where the pain is. It is most common between the ages of 30 and 50.

Aperiodic breast pain is often associated with:

  • Hurt
  • Operation
  • Infect
  • Breast fibroadenoma or breast cyst
  • inflammatory breast cancer

Large breasts (from obesity or genetics) can also be a source of aperiodic mastalgia. They can be especially painful if not wearing a supportive bra. This is due to stretching of Cooper’s ligaments, which are bands of connective tissue that support and shape breast tissue.


The diagnosis of mastalgia is usually based on symptoms and a breast exam, although imaging studies can be done to further evaluate abnormalities found during a physical exam.

The likelihood that mastalgia is a symptom of breast cancer is very low, but it is important to screen women at risk.

Breast cancer is usually painless, but breast pain were able become a symptom of the disease. If you do have breast pain, call your doctor right away to make an appointment.

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The best treatment for breast pain depends on what’s causing it.

For periodic and aperiodic pain, comfort and exclusion of breast cancer is often a relief. If treatment is required, there are effective treatment options.

home remedies

Many home remedies have been tried to reduce cyclic and non-cyclic pain, sometimes with good results.

They include:

  • Wear a well-fitting bra: This can help control sore breasts and prevent them from being pulled uncomfortable.
  • Practice stress reduction: Increased stress can affect hormone levels and cause more discomfort.
  • Exercise: Physical activity lowers estrogen, but it’s hard to tell from research whether it actually reduces breast pain.
  • Reduced caffeine and a low-fat diet: Research on how well this method works is mixed, but it may help some women.

Keeping a diary is also helpful, especially if you’re trying to see patterns in your symptoms, which is the best way to determine the type of breast pain you have.


Pain relief with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) is another option.

If these first-line interventions don’t help, your healthcare provider may recommend prescription medications, such as Novadex (tamoxifen) and danocryl (danazol). All of these drugs have their own side effects.

Studies seem to show the greatest benefit from tamoxifen, but dunoclidine is currently the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of mastalgia.

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Breast pain causes and treatment


While breast pain is common and usually harmless, it can still be annoying and affect your quality of life. Knowing whether your mastalgia is recurrent or aperiodic can help determine treatment and management. There are treatments available and you don’t have to live in pain.

VigorTip words

Breast pain can be worrying, especially if you don’t normally experience it. Try not to panic and remember that breast pain is common. It’s still important to check with your healthcare provider to rule out more serious problems and to determine what may be causing your pain and how best to treat it.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can mastalgia affect one breast?

    Yes, it can, especially if the pain is aperiodic. This means the pain has nothing to do with the menstrual cycle. If you have breast pain in one or both breasts, it is best to see your provider for a test to determine the cause.

  • Does caffeine make breast pain worse?

    Yes, caffeine has been linked to mastalgia. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you reduce or eliminate caffeine from your diet to see if it reduces symptoms of mastalgia.

  • Can breast pain cause arm pain?

    This is not common, but mastalgia can radiate (spread) to one or both arms, especially depending on where the pain is in the breast. If it’s external, the pain may spread to the underarm and into the upper arm.