Breast Pain: Reasons, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

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breast pain - Livayur

Breast pain, differently called mastalgia, is a common condition experienced by many women all across the globe, especially those who are of reproductive age. [1] It can range from mild and dull ache to severe pain intermittently or constantly. Breast pain can be concerning and require adequate evaluation and proper treatment. [2] This comprehensive guide will explore the various breast pain reasons, symptoms, breast pain causes, and treatment options for breast pain.

Types of Breast Pain

Cyclical Breast Pain: 

This type of breast pain is related to hormonal changes during the monthly menstrual cycle. This breast pain before period typically causes breast swelling, tenderness, and lumpiness and is most common in the days leading up to menstruation. The pain may intensify about two weeks before the start of periods, decrease on the day when bleeding starts, and subsides over the next few days.

Non-Cyclical Breast Pain: 

Non-cyclical breast pain is not related to hormonal fluctuations and is not a breast pain before period. It can be constant or intermittent, a sharp and burning pain, and may be localized to a specific area in one breast. Non-cyclical breast pain is less common than cyclical breast pain and mostly affects women in their 30s and 50s. [2]

Causes of Breast Pain

Hormonal Changes: One of the primary breast pain reasons is fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly during the menstrual cycle. These hormonal changes can sometimes subside during pregnancy and menopause. [2]

Medications: Some medications, including hormonal therapies, oral contraceptives, and certain antidepressants, antibiotics, and antihistamines, may list breast pain as a side effect and be one of the primary breast pain causes. [2]

Fibrocystic Breast Changes: Fibrocystic breast changes refer to the presence of non-malignant lumps, cysts, or fibrous tissue in the breasts. These changes can cause breast pain and discomfort. [3]

Smoking: This has been attributed as one of the major breast pain causes as it increases the epinephrine levels in the breast. [1] 

Caffeine consumption: Studies have shown that among the most common breast pain reasons is caffeine consumption. It leads to the over-stimulation of breast cells due to interference with adenosine triphosphate degradation by methylxanthines in tea, coffee, cola, and chocolate. [1]

Breast Cancer: Although breast pain is rarely a symptom of breast cancer, it is essential to mention that persistent or severe breast pain can be a sign of underlying malignancy in some cases. However, most breast pain is unrelated to breast cancer. [1]

Other causes: Breast trauma or injury to the chest wall, muscle, or joint injuries from musculoskeletal sources [6] or surgery can result in breast pain. Additionally, muscular strain or injury in the chest or upper back area, Tietze syndrome, and other spinal disorders can be some of the breast pain reasons. [2]

Costochondritis: Costochondritis is chest pain due to angina [2] and cartilage inflammation connecting the ribs to the breastbone. It can cause sharp, stabbing chest pain or a dull ache around the breasts. [4]

Breast Infection: Infections such as mastitis, an abscess of the breast tissue, can cause pain. [6]

Symptoms of Breast Pain

The symptoms of breast pain can vary depending on the underlying cause. Common symptoms include:

  • Breast tenderness or soreness
  • Dull, aching, pulling pain, or burning and stinging in one or both breasts 
  • Inability to sleep on the abdomen [5]

Treatment and Management

breast pain treatment

Topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as diclofenac and piroxicam, can help relieve breast pain and reduce inflammation. [1] Other over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, help ease breast pain. [2]

Supportive Bras: Wearing a well-fitted bra can help alleviate breast pain by providing proper support and minimizing breast movement. [1]

Heat or Cold Therapy: Applying a warm compress or cold packs can help reduce inflammation and may provide relief when applied, especially during the night before sleep. [2]

Evening Primrose Oil and Vitamin E: It has been seen that using primrose oil helps maintain a favorable balance of fatty acid in the cells. The use of vitamin E as an antioxidant also helps in alleviating breast pain. [2]

Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity helps alleviate pain, especially in severe cases of chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. [1]

Dietary Adjustments: Some women find that reducing food containing caffeine and methylxanthines can help alleviate breast pain. [1]


When is it important to seek medical attention in case of breast pain?

Most cases of breast pain are not a cause for concern. However, you should consult a healthcare professional if:
The pain is severe and affects your daily activities.
The pain is accompanied by unusual symptoms such as new lumps, changes in breast appearance, or nipple discharge.
The pain persists or worsens over time.
You have a history of breast cancer or a family history of breast cancer.

What are the symptoms of breast pain during pregnancy?

Breast pain during pregnancy is not uncommon, and sometimes this is also the first pregnancy sign, occurring as early as one to two weeks after conception. That sore sensation peaks in the first trimester because your body is flooding with hormones.

What are the best Ayurvedic treatments for pain in right breast?

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Pain in one or both breasts is common among women primarily because of the Vata and Kapha imbalances. While Vata people tend to have less meda dhatu and thus smaller breasts, kapha people tend to have larger breasts, and pitta people may have more muscular tissue. Some of the best remedies in Ayurveda for breast pain include:
Castor oil massage
Ushna and lepa with paste of punarnava powder
Aloe Vera especially if you have more pitta qualities
Intake of Trikatu powder
Intake of Licorice, tulsi, and fennel
Intake of Anantamul mixed in a cup of warm milk
Intake of herb Shatavari mixed with warm milk


If you have been plagued with the question, why my breast is paining, you must know that you are not the only one suffering from the issue. This problem is faced by many women and is often related to hormonal changes or benign causes. Understanding the different types, causes, and symptoms of breast pain can help alleviate concerns and guide appropriate management strategies. In most cases, self-care measures such as over-the-counter pain relievers, supportive bras, and heat or cold therapy can effectively manage breast pain. However, it is important to seek medical attention if you experience severe or persistent pain, notice any unusual symptoms, or have a history of breast cancer.


This article is written from a health and wellness perspective and is not medical advice. Kindly seek the help of a certified medical practitioner before initiating any treatment.


  1. Mastalgia: A narrative literature review of current understanding and management
  2. Mastalgia
  3. Fibrocystic Breast Disease
  4. Costochondritis
  5. Breast Pain
  6. Mastodynia

Dr. Shankar Rao

Dr. Rao has achieved great success in his career, with 5 research projects and 4 books to his credit, as well as a Monograph. In addition to receiving the Bharat Scout & Guide Award from the President of India, Dr Rao has also won the Young Scientist Award from S.V. University, Tirupati.