Breast Pain in Women
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What is breast pain in women?
Breast pain is any level of discomfort or pain in one or both breasts. It’s more common in younger women.
Pain can occur in one or both breasts. It can be a dull, continuous, ache. Or, it can be a sharp, shooting pain. The pain may come and go each month. Or, it may last for several weeks or even months.
CAUSES & RISK FACTORS
What causes breast pain?
Many things can cause pain or tenderness in your breasts. Here are some of them:
- Hormone changes during your period. This is the most common cause of breast pain.
- Water retention, which may happen during your period
- Injury to your breast
- Pregnancy, especially during the first trimester
- Breastfeeding (nursing)
- An infection in the breast
- Some medicines
- Breast cancer (not a usual cause of breast pain)
- Surgery from a biopsy, breast reduction (making your breasts smaller), or a mastectomy (removing your breasts as a preventive measure or treatment for cancer)
- During a mammogram, your breast will be compressed, which can be uncomfortable. The discomfort lasts only a few moments.
If you have breast pain that lasts for a long time or keeps coming back, it’s probably a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider about it.
DIAGNOSIS & TESTS
How is breast pain in women diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask you questions to find the cause of your pain and decide if you need treatment. They may ask you to describe the pain and where in your breast area you feel it. Your healthcare provider will also check to see if you have lumps in your breasts.
If you’re younger than 30 years of age and don’t have a breast lump, your healthcare provider might decide that you don’t need any tests. If you’re older than 30 years of age and don’t have a breast lump, your healthcare provider may still want you to get a mammogram and/ or an ultrasound.
If you do have a lump (or several lumps) in your breast, your healthcare provider might decide that you need one or more of these tests:
- A mammogram
- A breast ultrasound. This painless test uses sound waves to make a picture of the lump.
- A breast biopsy. For this test, some tissue is taken out of your breast and looked at under a microscope.
How is breast pain treated?
There are different treatments for breast pain depending on what is causing it. You and your healthcare provider can talk about these treatments and choose one or more that might work for you. Here are some possible treatments for breast pain:
- Wearing a support bra
- Applying ice or heat to the painful breast
- Taking an over-the-counter pain medicine
- Taking prescription medication as directed by your healthcare provider
Most of the time, breast pain goes away on its own after a few months.