Breast Pain (Mastalgia)

Breast pain, also known as mastalgia, is a very common condition, especially in women between the ages of 30 and 50. It affects about 70% of women at some point in their lives.

Sometimes, you may feel a sharp breast pain coming from really deep in your chest. This is known as chest wall pain.

People who are diagnosed with the breast cancer are more likely to develop lumps in their breast area which can be quite painful. But breast pain in itself is not usually a sign of breast cancer.

If you have breast pain – either localized or generalized – you should schedule a visit with your doctor for regular breast checkups. This will ensure that your health is being monitored and that your breast examinations are up to date.

Symptoms Of Breast Pain

Everyone symptoms will differ depending on whether they are suffering from cyclic or noncyclic breast pain. During cyclic breast pain, your breasts will likely feel:

  • Tender.
  • Swollen.
  • Heavy.
  • Sore.

The severity of the pain can be different for everyone, and for some, it can even spread to your armpits and shoulders. The symptoms of non-cyclic breast pain are slightly different, and are as follows:

  • The pain will be confined to a specific area in your breast.
  • A sharper, more acute pain.
  • A burning, stabbing sensation in that one area.

These symptoms of noncyclic breast pain may come and go over time, or remain for a longer period.

Causes Of Breast Pain

Changing hormone levels can cause changes in the milk ducts or milk glands. These changes in the ducts and glands can cause breast cysts, which can be painful and are a common cause of cyclic breast pain. Noncyclic breast pain can be caused by trauma, prior breast surgery, or other factors.

Sometimes, it is not possible to identify the exact cause of breast pain, but certain factors can increase the risk.

Cyclical breast pain is often triggered by your natural menstrual cycle, but causes of non-cyclical breast pain can include:

  • Birth control pills.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Infection.
  • Inflammation.
  • Infertility medications.
  • Hormone therapy.
  • Prior radiation therapy.
  • Antidepressants.
  • Breast cysts.
  • Fibroadenomas (non-cancerous lumps).
  • Costochondritis (inflammation where your bones and cartilage meet in your rib cage).
  • Having larger breasts.
  • Surgical scars.

There are also certain activities that can cause noncyclic breast pain, including:

  • Smoking.
  • Caffeine consumption.
  • Stress.
  • Breastfeeding.

In many cases, there is no clear cause for breast pain.

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