Breast Pain

Breast pain, also known as mastalgia, is a common complaint among women and can vary greatly in terms of severity and duration. It’s important to understand the types of breast pain and the various treatment options available to manage and alleviate this discomfort.

Types of Breast Pain
  • Cyclical Breast Pain: The most common type, cyclical pain, is associated with the menstrual cycle and hormonal fluctuations. It often affects both breasts and can extend to the armpits. This pain usually subsides on its own after menstruation begins.
  • Non-Cyclical Breast Pain: This type can be due to a variety of reasons, including injury, breast size, and conditions such as mastitis or cysts. Unlike cyclical pain, it may not follow a predictable pattern and can be localised to one area.
  • Extramammary Breast Pain: This pain originates outside the breast but is felt in the breast area. Causes can include issues with the chest wall, muscles, joints, or heart.
Treatment and Management
  • Supportive Clothing: Wearing a well-fitted, supportive bra can reduce breast movement and alleviate pain.
  • Dietary Changes: Reducing caffeine and high-fat foods, and maintaining a low-sodium diet may help some women.
  • Heat or Cold Packs: Applying heat or cold packs can offer temporary relief for discomfort.
  • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain.
  • Topical Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory: For localised areas of pain, topical NSAIDs can be effective.
  • Hormonal Treatments: In some cases, especially for severe cyclical breast pain, hormonal therapies or adjustments to hormonal medications might be recommended.
When to See a Doctor

While breast pain is often benign, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Persistent, unexplained breast pain
  • Pain localised to one specific area
  • Signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, or fever
  • A new lump or mass, especially if it persists throughout the menstrual cycle
  • Any significant change in breast pain patterns or intensity

Our doctor can conduct a thorough evaluation, which may include a clinical breast exam, imaging tests (like a mammogram or ultrasound), and possibly a biopsy to determine the cause of the pain and appropriate treatment.


Breast pain, while common, can significantly affect quality of life. Understanding the types of pain and available treatments is crucial for managing symptoms effectively. Most importantly, regular communication with your doctor ensures that breast pain is appropriately evaluated and managed, and that any underlying conditions are promptly addressed.

  • Frequently Asked Questions
Common causes include hormonal (pre-menstrual), benign breast changes, medications and muscular. Other causes include breast infection and breast cancer. A good clinical assessment backed up by mammograms and ultrasound can establish the cause and provide peace of mind. Management differs depending on the cause and can provide much relief.
Pain on its own is a very uncommon symptom of breast cancer. But pain can occur with breast cancer but usually together with other complaints such as a breast lump, breast enlargement, skin distortion or skin redness/rash. Whilst you should not over worry when you feel breast pain, it is advisable to see a doctor if the pain does not go away or if it is severe or if you feel something not right about your breasts.

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