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Breast pain is very common. Nearly, 70% of women experience breast pain at some point in their lives. Breast pain may be felt in one or both breasts or in a specific area of a breast or in the underarm region of the body.

The severity of breast pain varies from woman to woman. For some women the pain is mild and barely noticeable. However 15% of women may find the pain very uncomfortable and need treatment.

Space for Anatomy of the Breast

 

Types of Breast Pain

There are two main types of breast pain:

  • Cyclical Pain: It is the most common type of breast pain and occurs more often in younger women. It may be caused by the normal monthly changes in hormones. This pain usually occurs in both breast and may radiate to the armpit and arm. It is usually most severe a few days before menstruation and ends when menstruation is over. Stress may also influence this type of pain.

Most cyclic pain disappears at menopause.

  • Non-cyclical: This is the most common in women 40 to 50 years of age. It may occur in only one breast as a sharp, burning pain in one area of a breast. Occasionally noncyclic pain may be caused by a cyst or a fibroadenoma of the breast. A woman who experience injury or trauma to the breast or those who undergo breast biopsy sometimes experience non-cyclical pain. It can also be caused by pain from bones, joints or muscles that radiates to the breast. Also, consuming moderate to large amounts of foods containing caffeine (e.g. coffee, chocolate) may produce non-cyclical breast pain.

Does breast Pain indicate breast cancer?  

Breast pain is an uncommon symptom of breast cancer. However women should report all complaints of breast pain to their physicians if the pain has lasted for a long time, if it comes and goes repeatedly or if it is noncyclic and localized to one particular spot within the breast (about 2 to 7% of women with this type of breast pain have breast cancer).

Through breast pain is not normally associated with breast cancer, women who experience any breast abnormalities, including breast pain, should consult their physicians.

Physicians will evaluate the pain, considering the woman’s personal history, family history, the area of pain and the intensity and duration of the pain. Physicians will perform clinical breast examination, and if necessary, order mammography and/or ultrasound.

Treatment

Most women with moderate breast pain do not need treatment with medications. The following suggestions may reduce breast pain in some women:

  • Wearing a support bra to reduce breast movement.
  • Using less salt and low fat diet.
  • Using more vegetables and fruits.
  • Reducing caffeine intake (coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate)
  • Reducing stress
  • Regular workout, in particular thorax muscles strengthening
  • Women with cyclic breast pain may benefit from taking evening primrose oil capsules.

If breast pain is severe and interferes with woman with a woman’s daily activities, further treatment may be necessary. Sometimes draining a cyst may relieve breast pain.

Drugs treatments for severe breast pain includes:

  • Danazole
  • Bromocriptine

Both drugs relieve breast pain by blocking certain hormones. However, these drugs may cause serious side effects in some women. Side effects of bromocriptine include nausea, dizziness and fertility problems. Danazol may cause weight gain, absence menstruation, and masculinization (such as extra facial hair).

In any case of breast pain I suggest to consult your physician to find the best individually treatment, tailored to the patient after some diagnostics and ruling out of solid mass or tumors.

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