Common Causes of Breast Pain

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Mastalgia (Breast pain) is a common occurrence among women of all ages. Pain can occur both before and after the menopause. However, breast pain is most common in younger menstruating women. The severity and location of breast pain vary and can occur in both breasts, one breast, or in the underarm. Severity can range from mild to severe and is typically described as tenderness, sharp burning, or tightening of the breast tissue.

The change in hormone occasioned medical condition such as menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause can also have an effect on the type of breast pain experienced.

One of the causes of breast pain is breast cysts. Breasts are of varying sizes and shapes which do make some to be at a higher risk for developing painful breast conditions than others. At times, women may develop milk duct or gland changes resulting in breast cyst forming. Breast cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can be soft or firm and may or may not cause pain. These cysts typically enlarge during the menstrual cycle and go away once menopause is reached.

Closely related to breast cysts is the use of certain medications does contribute to the development of breast pain. Medications that are linked to an increase in breast pain include:

-Infertility treatments Oral hormonal contraceptives
-Postmenopausal estrogen and progesterone preparations
-Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
– Antidepressants Digitalis preparations -Methyldopa (Aldomet)
-Spironolactone (Aldactone)
-Some diuretics Anadrol Chlorpromazine

Women with breast pain should speak to their healthcare provider to see if any of their medications are having an effect. Furthermore, costochondritis is another cause of breast pain. Costochondritis is a type of arthritis that occurs where the ribs and breastbone connect. While this condition is not related to the breast, the burning pain caused by it can be confused with actual breast pain. This form of arthritis is seen in older adults and people with poor posture.

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Another cause of breast pain is fibrocystic breast changes where women who are premenopausal and those who are undergoing treatment with postmenopausal hormone treatment may develop lumpy, tender, and swollen breasts caused by the buildup of fluid. It is however an harmless condition.

In the same vein, mastitis is also a cause of breast pain. It is a painful infection of the breast. It is most commonly experienced by lactating women due to a clogged milk duct. However, it is not an infection that only occurs in breastfeeding women. Symptoms associated with mastitis often include fever, aches, and tiredness, along with breast changes such as warmth, redness, swelling, and pain.

In addition to the above, wearing of an improperly fitted bra can lead to breast pain. At times, bras are worn too tight or loose, leaving the breasts improperly supported. Lack of proper support can lead to breast pain.
Finally, breast surgery and formation of scar tissue as well as inflammatory breast cancer and some tumors can lead to breast discomfort. It is important to see your doctor if you experience: A lump or other area of concern in the breast Pain or a lump that is not resolved following a period Any nipple discharge – bloody, clear, or otherwise Breast pain without a known cause or that does not go away Breast infection with symptoms such as redness, pus, or fever.

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