Help with Common Breast Problems

Breast Pain (Mastalgia)

Breast pain is sometimes concerning and quite troublesome symptom, but is hardly ever a sign of underlying breast cancer. In fact most women naturally have some degree of breast pain particularly for a few days prior to each menstrual cycle. The breast tissue is very sensitive to your hormones and it is therefore normal to have breast changes, particularly breast pain on occasions.

Most breast cancer specialists in fact consider breast pain as a good sign because it is a normal phenomenon and is usually not a sign of breast cancer.

Hormonal breast pain is generally felt as a soreness or an aching particularly along the side of the breast and up into the armpit. The breast is often tender to touch and it can be painful during day to day activities. Often it is more comfortable to wear a supportive bra but is painful in the evening when you take your bra off.

Breast pain can sometimes become more of a problem, occurring for a much longer time prior to your menstrual cycle or even occurring continuously. Sometimes this is a transient phenomenon but in some women breast pain is more of a persisting problem. In these cases it can become quite disruptive and can impact on your lifestyle. Some women find that severe breast pain wakes them at night when they turn over, or prevents them from exercising.

Once the pain gets to this level it is usually worth taking measures to reduce the discomfort. There are some simple remedies for this type of pain

that can be effective but ultimately more direct measures such as medication are sometimes needed. Hormonal breast pain is rarely affected by normal types of pain killer, but with the correct advice and treatment nearly all women with breast pain can achieve significant improvements in their discomfort and often complete relief is possible.

In addition to hormonal causes for breast pain a small number of women have breast pain caused by inflammation in the milk ducts of the breast. This is termed as periductal mastitis. It occurs much more commonly in women who smoke, however, it can occur in non smokers as well.

The pain of peri-ductal mastitis is often briefer and sharper, sometimes described as a stabbing pain, and is frequently described as being centred on, or radiating through, the nipple. The cause of this inflammation is not always a sign of infection and antibiotics should not be required. In some cases surgery may be required.

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