Soreness, swelling, irritation or even a numbing feeling, whatever the symptoms be, breast pain definitely hurts than how much words can explain. So, if you went to sleep at night with everything perfectly fine and woke up to thinking, why your breasts hurt, there can be a number of underlying reasons behind it.
Breast pain can sometimes be fleeting and recurring and if you are someone who suffers from it quite frequently, it is high time that you pay heed to these signs of pain in breast and take the necessary steps to find a cure for it as well.
In this article, we are going to primarily focus on the common reasons of why do breast hurt and suggest some effective remedies that can help tone down the excruciating pain that one undergoes in such conditions.
What is Breast Pain?
Breast pain, otherwise known as Mastalgia, in medical terms, is a fairly common complaint that is heard amidst a good percentage of women. The condition is characterized by the presence of sharp and shooting pain in the breast along with numbness in the area and tenderness of the breast as well.
There are also listed symptoms of tightness around the breast tissue. This kind of pain can either last for an extended period of time or can even be fleeting and last for a few hours or so, depending on the cause behind the pain.
In common ground, the breast pain:
- Lasts for a few days in a month before the days when you are about to get your periods
- A week or so throughout the entirety of the menstrual cycle in a month
- Throughout the month based on some severe underlying reason for breast pain
The first two are categorized under the cyclical pain while the last one is categorized under the non-cyclical pain.
What Causes Breast Pain?
Now that we have more or less walked ourselves through the basics of the breast pain and sore breast, it is time to focus on the common causes that heavily affect this condition.
There are categorization based on the severity of the cause that affects the breasts and results in the presence of breast tenderness and pain in breast.
Let us walk ourselves through them one by one.
Check Out the Lesser known Facts About Causes Of Breast Pain
1. Hormonal Fluctuations
As mentioned in the prior section of the article, there are either cyclical reasons or non-cyclical reasons behind the presence of breast pain in a woman. When we talk about hormonal fluctuations, it is mainly based around the common grounds of hormonal changes (R) that one experiences during their menstrual cycle in the month.
The vivid levels of fluctuation that one experiences during their menstrual cycles in the body are primarily because of the altering levels of estrogen and progesterone which is what contributes to making the breasts feel tender and swollen at times, accompanied by pain as well. This kind of breast pain is often reported to get even worse over time with age because of increased sensitivity to the levels of hormones in the body.
If the breast pain is related to your menstrual cycle, there are high chances that the pain will start appearing at least 2-3 days before the periods start and will prolong till the hormonal levels are again back to normal. If you want to ensure whether the breast pain is related to your menstrual cycle, ensure that you take notes of the dates of the onset and align them with the dates that you experience the pain on.
Some of the common developmental phases that could potentially be a reason for breast pain include:
2. Fibrocystic Breasts
Fibrocystic breasts, just as the name suggests, is the condition that is characterized by the evident formation of non-cancerous or benign cysts in the breasts which make them feel lumpy and create an unpleasant and bothersome situation for the one suffering. This is the kind of condition which is also dependent on the hormonal changes that one experiences during the menstrual cycle that end up affecting the breast tissue.
The gradual change that a woman’s breast experiences is termed as “involution” in which the breast tissues are replaces with fat which causes tenderness and lumpy feeling throughout the breasts.
Since these cystic growths are benign, there is not much that one needs to fret about. These cystic outgrowths can often cause pain but for the most part, they don’t. These kinds of growths are often witnessed in the upper portion of the breasts which often tend to enlarge in size during the time of the menstrual cycle.
Breastfeeding isn’t necessarily painful but there are a few conditions that could be a potent contributing factor behind the causes of breast pain which is exactly what we have tried to amalgamate and mention in this specific section. There are an extensive number of possibilities associated with experiencing breast pain during breastfeeding and some of them include:
Mastitis is a common problem that is defined as the infection of the milk ducts in the breast. This often tends to cause severe and unbearable pain along with severe itching and cracks in the nipples. Some other common symptoms of this issue include blistering on the nipples, red streaks on the breast and also fever and chills.
5. Improper Latching
This is a very common reason for breast pain that is witnessed in new mothers. If your baby isn’t latching properly while breastfeeding, there are chances that you will experience pain in the breast. Some of the common symptoms of this problem include soreness in the nipples as well as cracking nipples. Make sure to consult a doctor to get this issue sorted for both you and your infant.
Yet another common breast tenderness issues related to breastfeeding include engorgement. This is the condition in which the breasts are overfull with milk. This often tends to make your breasts look and feel bigger and heavier. If you can’t breastfeed your baby at the moment, try and pumping the milk out into bottles to get some relief from the situation. It is important to pump the excess milk out during times like these primarily because of the fact that the excessive production can inflict negative impacts.
7. Improper Diet
Apart from these above mentioned severe issues, even the diet can be a predominant reason for breast pain. Women, who consume a very high fat and high carbohydrate diet majority of the time throughout the day, are more likely to witness the signs of breast pain accompanied by soreness and tenderness.
8. Accessory Reasons
While, for the most part, the causes of breast pain arise from the mammary regions, there are sometimes possibilities when the same can arise from non-mammary reasons like that of irritation caused in the arms, chest or even the back muscles. These kinds of symptoms often correlate if you have been indulging in some sports like raking, rowing, shoveling etc.
9. Breast Surgery
If you are here thinking why do my breast hurt, yet another common reason behind the same do is because of breast surgery. If you have recently undergone a breast surgery, the scar tissues often tend to cause breast pain and breast tenderness. The kind of pain inflicted in these kind of situations often tend to vary from minimal to severe depending on what exactly is causing the pain.
The pain could rise from any form of nerve damage or even because of any kind of underlying inflammation. The pain could either be superficial or could run deeper than that. Some of the common symptoms related to pain in breast after a surgery includes:
- Sharp throbbing pain while touching the area
- Increase sensitivity around the breast
- Numbness at times
- Difficulty doing a few regular day to day activities
- Inability to raise the hand of the side of the surgery due to pain
Even a study conducted in this aspect stated that this kind of lingering pain is persistent and ranges from mild to severe throughout the entirety of the 6 months post surgery.
Yet another common factor that sure does contribute to the pain in breast is a number of medications that we take. Even though the spectrum of these causative medications is not widespread, there effects are often times very profound in a number of these cases of a sore breast.
Some of the medications that are linked to increase breast pain include:
- Drugs related to the reproductive hormones in a female
- Drugs related to the treatment of mental health issues
- Drugs related to the treatment of a number of cardiovascular diseases
- Drugs that are used for the treatment of infertility
- Diuretic medications
11. Wearing Ill Fitted Undergarments
This is one of those underlying causes that not many people tend to take for granted thinking that this is not something major when in reality, the same affects the breasts a lot. Both loose, as well as a tightly fitted bra, could be a major contributing factor to the breast pain that you are experiencing. An ill fitted bra often tends to compress the breast and can’t even support the breasts optimally which is what inflicts the kind of pain that we experience.
If you want to reduce breast pain, make sure that your bra is well fitted and is not causing you any kind of discomfort as such.
12. Breast Cancer
This is the most severe and tedious cause of the breast pain. While a majority of the breast cancers don’t necessarily cause pain, there are a few instances when the same can actually be an underlying reason behind the breast tenderness and pain in breast. These kinds of breast cancer and inflammatory tumours can often cause discomfort and they come with some signified accessory symptoms that one should be aware of.
Some of the accessory symptoms for breast pain induced by breast cancer include:
- A visible lump on the breast
- The lump like structure is persistent even after the menstrual cycle is over
- Nipple discharge – either clear or sometimes bloody too
- Redness on the breast along with accumulation of pus
- Fever and chills
Home Remedies for Breast Pain
Much like understanding and being aware of the common causes of breast pain, it is also necessary to be aware of the kind of home remedies for breast pain that can actually help subside the pain. In this section, we are going to walk ourselves through the common and effective remedies for breast pain that actually does work wonders.
1. Vitamin E for Breast Pain
Vitamin E is considered as one of the most common vitamins that is considered as a very effective remedy for breast pain. The antioxidant properties of this specific vitamin are what help in protecting the breast tissues, thereby relieving the pain.
Not just that, Vitamin E (R) is also known for its amazing healing as well anti-inflammatory properties which combined help in reducing the inflammation that is often the reason behind the sharp shooting pain that many women face on a day to day basis or on regular intervals. The heightened levels of Vitamins in the body helps produce cytokines which is yet another factor that helps curb the presence of pain and inflammation.
The Vitamin E supplements also help in reducing the pain associated with pre-menstrual pains.
For the dosage of consumption, make sure that you consult a doctor for the same because it is necessary to ensure that the consumption should be in permissible quantities.
2. Cabbage Leaves for Breast Pain
If the breast pain is being caused because of the excess retention of water (R) in the breast, there are possibilities that the same can actually cause inflammation in the breast which could contribute to the possible pain in breast along with numbness and tenderness as well.
All you need to do is freeze some cabbage leaves and place them on your breasts (R) and leave them on to get rid of the pain and tenderness. While this is actually very effective, using cabbage or even consuming cabbage during breastfeeding is a big NO. The main reason behind the same is because of the fact that the cabbage tends to hinder with the steady milk production.
3. Compress for Breast Pain
In order to relieve breast pain quickly, it is better to actually ensure that you end up applying some cold compress on the breasts after you are done breast feeding. The cold compress helps subside the pain along with the inflammation. The cold compress helps heighten the blood circulation around the body which is exactly what helps in toning down the inflammation, thus relieving the person from the pain as well.
4. Evening Primrose Oil for Breast Pain
Evening Primrose Oil is considered as one of the most effective remedies for the treatment for breast pain. This essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant as well as vasodilating properties (R) which have combined effects in getting rid of the pain effectively.
The consumption of the evening primrose oil supplements in a dosage of 1-2 gms daily for around 6 weeks can actually be very helpful in a number of cyclical as well as non-cyclical mastalgia that often induce pain in breast.
Not just that, the vasodilation property of the primrose oil helps in boosting the blood circulation, thereby helping reduce the inflammation and pain effectively. This is considered as one of the best natural remedies for breast pain and it is always best to get the dosage prescribed by a doctor as per the requirements.
Dandelion has natural diuretic properties (R) which prove very beneficial in the breast pain treatment, primarily because it helps flush out excess water from the body. The excess water retention in the body often ends up causing the breast pain in the first place which is why it is always best to opt for natural remedies like Dandelion to relieve breast pain.
Steep a dandelion tea bag in some hot water and drink this once or twice a day for effective results. Make sure to avoid drinking this if you are pregnant or breastfeeding because there could be negative implications in cases like those.
6. Reduce Methylxanthine Consumption
Methylxanthine is present in a number of common day to day foods and beverages that we consume and this could be a very potent cause behind the breast pain. If you have been consistently suffering from pain and tenderness in your breast, it is high time to actually stop consuming the things that contain this compound.
Some of the common food items that contain methylxanthine include:
- Carbonated Drinks
- Wine and Beer
- Peanut Butter
Cutting down on these compounds will help cut down the recurrence of the cyclical pain that a woman ensures during their menstrual cycles.
7. Cut Down Excess Sodium
Yet another factor that contributes to excess water retention in the body is excess of sodium consumption. The heightened levels of sodium in the body often end up increasing the water retention (R) in the body which causes inflammation in the breast, leading to pain and tenderness.
The permissible quantity of salt on a daily basis is advised to not cross the 2 tablespoons mark because that is the optimum amount one should consume on a daily basis.
8. Reduce Fat Consumptions
It has been witnessed vividly that people who have a comparatively less fat diet have a lowered risk of development of issues concerning the breast pain and such. The high fat diet is often times the primary reason behind the development of lumps and tumours in the breasts which is what causes pain and such.
If you are on the lookout for home remedies for breast tenderness, cut down the fat consuming. Ensure that you gain less than 30% of your daily calories from fat and cope up the rest with carbohydrates, proteins and even fibers.
9. Increase Fiber Intake
Fibers play a pivotal role in the prevention of breast pain in women. Studies (R) have shown that the consumption of fibers propagates the production of estrogen which is one of the pivotal factors that helps subside the pain and tenderness in the breasts.
The fibers from the fruits and other forms of foods can actually be helpful by boosting the body with effective antioxidant properties that help in rejuvenating the body and getting rid of any kind of inflammation and pain.
10. Go Soy!
Yet another amazing ingredient that helps in reducing the pain associated with cyclical changes is soy and the several soy products. The soy products are loaded with beneficial compounds known as phytoestrogens (R) which help in regulating the fluctuating levels of hormones that one faces during the menstrual cycle days as well as during menopause.
Try including soy in your daily diet, either in the form of milk, or even the tofu that can be used as a part of the salad. It is not just healthy but very well beneficial for the overall well being of an individual.
Symptoms of Breast Pain
Much like how I have separately mentioned the two spectrums of breast pain – cyclical as well as non-cyclical, even their symptoms slightly vary in a number of prospects. In this section of the article, we are going to walk ourselves through the common symptoms of breast pain based on the type it is categorized under.
Symptoms of cyclical breast pain include:
- Onset of the pain just before the starting of the menstrual cycle
- Tenderness in the breast
- Stabbing or burning pain the breast
- Swelling and inflammation in the breast
- Lumpy appearance of the breast
- Pain dissipates to the underarms as well
- Pain may be visible in women on menopause who are on hormone replacement therapy
Symptoms of non-cyclical breast pain include:
- The pain affects one breast and is constricted to one part of the breast
- The pain isn’t recurring in cyclical patterns and might come and go at any time intervals
- Mostly witnessed in post-menopausal women
- The pain is sometimes persistent or even sporadic depending on the reason of breast pain
- If the pain is because of any kind of infection, then there are possibilities that the patient may suffer from fever and chills
- Referred pain affecting some other accessory part of the body but sourcing from the breasts
When To See A Doctor For Breast Pain?
Now, when it comes down to the question of when should one see a doctor for breast pain, I am going to try and mention all the alarming signs and symptoms that one need to look out for and consult a doctor if they are experiencing these along with breast pain.
Some things to look out for:
- Drastic changes in the size and shape of the breast in comparison to the other
- Transparent or bloody discharge from the nipples
- Red and itchy rash around the nipples
- A sudden swollen lump in the underarms
- Dimpling on the skin of breasts
- Changes in the appearance of the nipples
- Casual yet persistent pain in the breast and armpits even when there is no possibility of menstrual cycle around
- Lump in the breast because of accumulation of tissues
If you are experiencing any of these above symptoms along with the breast pain, it is best to reach out to a doctor and get the problem checked. Leaving it or taking it for granted can often time end up resulting in something drastic that could have been easily avoided with the necessary precautions.
Food For Thought With Some FAQs
1. Is Breast Pain a Sign of Cancer?
A: With just breast pain as a symptom, there are chances that the condition might not be cancer but if you are experiencing accessory symptoms along with breast pain like secretion from the nipples or lumps in the breast and a few other symptoms, it is always suggested to consult a doctor for the same because it could very possibly be a sign of breast cancer.
2. Can Breast Pain Be a Sign of Pregnancy?
A: Relying only on breast pain as an indicative of pregnancy might not be a very clever choice because breast pain has a number of underlying reasons which could be anything but pregnancy. So, if you have accessory symptoms that align with the possibility of pregnancy, there are chances that you might be pregnant but don’t solely take up breast pain as a sign of pregnancy.
Breast pain could sometimes be acute and sometimes chronic, depending on the causes behind it. If you have been persistently trying to avoid and take the pain as something subminimal, it is time to change that mentality, primarily because the same can actually amount of a broader picture and cause havoc which could have been easily avoided if you went to see a doctor or opt for any of these natural remedies for breast pain.