Breast pain – Mastalgia

With the increased cases of breast cancer and the awareness that is spread about it, even a simple breast pain may cause a lot of fear and panic in the person suffering from it. It is agreed that breast pain is not something to be ignored, however in the majority of the cases; it is nothing to be panicked for too!

Breast pain is experienced by every woman at some point in their lifetime. It’s effects vary, and in some cases, make every day functions like getting dressed, walking and simple acts of intimacy very uncomfortable. If you suffer from breast pain on a frequent basis then it is important to understand why you are experiencing it and what you can do about it.

There are 3 types of breast pain that we must be aware of to understand the causes and to learn to deal with the pain.

  1. Cyclical breast pain– The pain is linked to menstrual periods with dull, heavy or aching accompanied by breast swelling or lumpiness. It affects both breasts, particularly the upper, outer portions, and can radiate to the underarm and is known to get Intensified prior the two weeks leading up to the start of your period, then eases up afterward.
  2. Noncyclic breast pain. The origin of pain in this may be the breast or outside the breast too such as nearby muscles or joints and may be felt in the breast. It is not related to the menstrual cycle. It is usually described as tight, burning or sore. It affects one breast. The pain may be in a localized area or may spread more diffusely across the breast.
  3. Extramammary breast pain– The term “extra mammary” means “outside the breast.” This kind of breast pain feels like it starts in the breast tissue, but its source is actually somewhere else, for example, pulling a muscle in your chest.

Common causes of breast pain

  1. Wearing the wrong bra – It is important to know the right size and right fit and wear a supportive bra when needed such as during exercise.
  2. Hormonal changes – Changes that take place before menstruation and during pregnancy are linked to breast pain. Cyclical breast pain has a strong link to the menstrual cycle.
  3. Fatty acid imbalance – an imbalance of fatty acids within the breast cells may affect the sensitivity of breast tissue to circulating hormones.
  4. Breast size – Women with large breasts tend to have noncyclic breast pain due to the size of their breasts.
  5. Medication use – Certain medications, including hormonal pills used for infertility treatments, oral birth control pills, hormonal replacement therapy, and certain antidepressants may cause breast pain.
  6. Breast structure – Noncyclic breast pain often results from certain changes that occur in the breast tissue in response to hormonal changes. These include cysts.
  7. Breast trauma – prior breast surgery or other factors localized to the breast can lead to breast pain.
  8. Stress – During extreme periods of anxiety, pressure, and stress, women may experience breast pain.
  9. Caffeine – using too many caffeine-containing drinks has been linked to increased cases of breast pain.
  10. Issues with bones of rib – also known as costochondritis. It is an inflammation costal cartilage and may reflect as breast pain in women.

Now we know the causes of breast pain. A woman’s breast shows changes at multiple points in life. Breast pain usually has the above-discussed causes and if it gets intolerable, it is advisable to visit your doctor.

Written by: Dr.Afroze Fatima

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20350423

https://www.cbhs.com.au/health-well-being-blog/blog-article/2017/08/31/breast-pain-explained

https://www.webmd.com/baby/breast-tenderness

https://www.webmd.com/women/normal-vs-abnormal-breasts#1

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/mastalgia-breast-pain

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15469-breast-pain-mastalgia/management-and-treatment

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