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What Is Causing My Breast Pain?

Provided By: Dr. Maria Palafox with South Texas Breast Surgery

If you feel pain or discomfort in your breasts, don’t be alarmed. Breast pain is common in women and has a range of causes, most of which are benign. Breast pain is often linked to hormonal changes.

Dr. Maria Palafox and her health care team at South Texas Breast Surgery in San Antonio would like to share the following information with you about breast pain.

Types of pain

Breast pain, also known as mastalgia, can appear in several ways: as sharp pain, dull pain, tenderness, burning, uncomfortable swelling, soreness, or tightness.

Breast pain may occur once in a while, or you may feel it most or all of the time. It may happen during the few days before your period or at other times of the month. It may be mild, moderate, or severe. And it may show up in one breast or both.

Although any girl or woman can experience breast pain, it happens most often in pubescent teens and premenopausal women.

In rare cases, breast pain has a link to breast cancer. But most women with breast cancer don’t feel breast pain before diagnosis.

Hormone-related breast pain

Changes in hormone levels that occur in relation to puberty, your menstrual period, pregnancy, or perimenopause are the most common causes of breast pain. Pregnancy-related breast pain occurs most often in the first trimester.

Premenstrual breast pain typically occurs in both breasts during the two weeks before your period.

Usually, it improves after your period, when you’re pregnant, or when you reach menopause.

Postpartum breast pain

Your breasts may also feel painful or uncomfortable after childbirth, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Postpartum breast pain requires an immediate call to your health care provider, especially if your breasts redden or feel warm, because it may mean you have an infection.

Non-hormonal breast pain

Although breast pain often has a hormonal cause, it may also have no relation to hormonal changes and may have other causes instead.

For example, certain medications may cause breast pain as a side effect. These include birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and some types of medications prescribed for depression or other mental health conditions.

Other causes of non-hormonal breast pain may include previous breast injury or surgery, a fatty acid imbalance, or a pulled muscle in your chest. Occasionally pain from other sources, such as your back or your heart or blood vessels, may radiate to your breast.

Breast Cysts

Occasionally breast pain results from the presence of cysts, which are non-cancerous fluid-filled sacs that develop in your breast. If painful breast cysts don’t go away on their own, Dr. Palafox can drain them using a procedure known as fine-needle aspiration.

Relief for breast pain

For routine breast pain, remedies such as over-the-counter pain relievers (acetaminophen or ibuprofen), heat, or ice may help ease discomfort. You may also feel better wearing a bra that fits snugly and prevents your breasts from moving around.

In some cases, vitamin E can help. Taking vitamin E twice a day is especially effective for breast pain that’s tied to your menstrual cycle.

Be sure to see Dr. Palafox before embarking on any of these home treatments. She talks with you about your symptoms, performs a physical exam, and may order testing before determining the cause of your pain.

Learn more about breast pain

If your breasts feel painful, or if you’re experiencing other breast symptoms such as lumps, nipple discharge, or a change in the look or feel of your breasts or nipples, Dr. Palafox can help. Call one of her San Antonio offices or book an appointment online.

For more information on South Texas Breast Surgery and Dr. Maria Palafox please visit 

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