A condition that alarms women ad nauseam — a stinging ache in the breasts, well may have them go blue. Women may endure breast discomfort on account of several reasons, and the intensity, too, may vary. Mentioned herein, are the types, and causes of breast pain, accompanied with measures to relieve the discomfort.
According to estimates, approximately 70% of women experience breast pain at least once in their lifetime. Some women may experience pain of a mild nature, while others experience a sharp, stinging pain in the breasts.
Below are some of the reasons, why women experience this form of discomfort, followed by ways to treat and prevent the same.
Types of Breast Pain
There are two types of pain that your breasts may be affected with:
(1) Cyclical; and
Cyclical pain is characteristic of the discomfort felt in the breast, marked by an approaching menstrual cycle. On the other hand, non-cyclical breast pain shares no link with a woman’s monthly cycle. It may also be regarded as a musculoskeletal pain, which affects the breast region; however, its originating points may be the surrounding muscles, bones, or joints.
A sharp pain, accompanied with other symptoms, such as swelling, tenderness, lumpiness, or cysts in breasts which is experienced just before the menstrual cycle, and goes away once the periods are over is known as cyclical breast pain. It is caused due to the various changes in the levels of the two hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone. A shooting breast pain caused due to hormonal fluctuations subsides on its own, once the woman reaches menopause.
Non-cyclical pain, in most cases, affects only one particular area of the breast, or both the breasts. Shooting pain being non-cyclical in nature could be due to some injury or trauma to the region. Wearing improper inner wear may cause this type of pain, too. Costochondritis — an arthritis pain that is experienced by aged women, or women, who have an improper posture — is another reason behind non-cyclical breast pain. Some of the other uncommon causes behind this type of pain are intake of contraceptive pills, tumors, and breast cancer.
- A nerve-rich and sensitive spot, breasts are tender; this, precisely is what makes them susceptible to injury, causing discomfort and pain.
- If you have recently undergone a surgery with regard to breast reconstruction, the tissues that have been tampered with, during the course of the surgery, would hurt for a brief period. Surgeries involve scars, and they may be the root cause for the pain you feel in your breasts.
- Breast pain may also be marked by the development of a fibroid, or cysts exerting pressure on the neighboring tissues. The growth may be termed benign; however, it may prove to be a potential cause for discomfort.
- A condition that clogs the milk ducts and results in an infection, mastitis may also cause a shooting pain in the breast.
- Undergoing a mammogram may also cause breast discomfort. During the conduction of the procedure, the breasts are compressed by a machine that consists of two plastic plates. Besides, the size of your breast also acts as one contributing factor that escalates the intensity of pain experienced. In case of a well-endowed woman, the pain is far intense than a small-breasted woman.
- Pregnant women could experience a sharp pain in the breasts, too. It is caused due to the hormonal changes that take place in the body during this time.
- Another reason is the changes that take place in the breast tissue, resulting in the formation of the milk cells, which cause breast enlargement accompanied with pain and tenderness.
- Severe pain after breastfeeding could be caused due to a number of reasons, such as the stimulation/cracking of nipples, baby bite, bad suckle by the baby, improper breast pump, normal “let down” of milk to the nipples, and thrush.
Calling into Question
Does Stress Cause Breast Pain?
Stress has been associated with several conditions. Here, too, stress is considered one of the major contributors in causing intense pain in the breast. However, this is one section that science is touring to discover the mechanism that links stress to cause certain medical conditions, breast tenderness, being one of them. Though research has not paperbacked evidence on this link yet, it is true that excessive stress may be potent in aggravating health conditions.
Are Bras Responsible for Breast Pain?
Well, a cause that most women choose to ignore — an ill-fitting bra. A bra is meant to deliver support; however, if you experience sore breasts while you have it on, know that there is something seriously wrong with your choice. More often than not, underwire bras, or the heavily padded ones may cause the much-dreaded discomfort. Don a bra that fits well; it should be comfortable, not tight. If you are not sure about the cup size meant for you, frequent a store where professional bra fitters may assist you to select a fit meant for you.
- Wearing a comfortable bra can help curb breast pain for a majority.
- Introducing changes in one’s diet, such as including vegetables and fruits, and eliminating fats, helps reduce breast pain.
- If a woman exercises regularly and eats a balanced, and healthy diet to lose weight, the fluctuation in her hormone levels may be minimized, thereby reducing the pain in her breasts.
- Breast pain caused due to benign cysts may be reduced by going through a procedure known as cyst aspiration, in which the fluid is drained from the cysts.
- Manage stress better with meditation and yoga. It helps you gain control over your mind, rather than your mind gaining control over you.
- You may consult a certified lymphatic massager in order to reduce the discomfort. Besides, you may lightly stroke your breasts, gradually increasing the pressure on them. Know that the technique of massage should be light and comfortable. If you experience pain while you massage the breasts, it is a sign for you to understand that you are exerting excessive pressure.
- Capsules containing evening primrose extracts are found beneficial in relieving breast pain. However, before the consumption of these capsules, consulting your medical practitioner is a must.
- A light massage with castor oil may also work to lessen the tenderness of your breasts.
- A cold compress comprising a frozen bag of peas enveloped in a napkin, or simply using an ice pack may help reduce the discomfort. Applying ice cubes wrapped in a towel on your breasts for 5 to 7 minutes counts for relief.
- Reduce the frequency of consuming coffee, tea, chocolates, cheese, and mushrooms — predominantly foods that contain a compound known as methylxanthine.
- Restrict the intake of sodium in your diet. Excess salt in your diet may lead to water retention. This leads to your breasts swelling, which, thereby invites undue pain and discomfort.
- Try aromatherapy, or acupuncture. It is a form of relaxation technique that promotes good health and peace of mind.
Certain over-the-counter pain relievers, although not a permanent solution, can be taken by women as a temporary respite from enduring the pain. However, if the discomfort escalates to being unbearable, making your day-to-day life difficult, it is recommended that you garner an expert consult without any further delay.
Disclaimer: The article published herein, is meant to accomplish pedagogical purposes only. The recommendations mentioned hereby may not be generically applicable. The information, by no means, intends to supplant the diagnosis and advice imparted by the medical practitioner.