Breast Pain : Common Symptoms & Treatment Options


Tenderness, throbbing, acute pain, stabbing, scorching pain, or tightness in the breast tissue are all examples of breast pain (mastalgia). The pain, which can be constant or sporadic, can affect men, women, and transgender individuals equally. Mild to severe breast soreness is possible. It may happen:

Just a couple of times a month, around the two to three days before a period. The pain is low to moderate and affects both breasts normally.

Beginning the day before a period and perhaps lasting during the menstrual cycle, for a week or longer each month. Both breasts are affected, and the pain can range from mild to severe.

It is not connected to a menstrual cycle; it occurs all throughout the month.

Breast pain in men is typically brought on by a disorder called "gynecomastia”. This is used to describe an increase in breast gland tissue brought on by an estrogen and testosterone hormone imbalance. One or both breasts may be affected by gynecomastia, occasionally unevenly.

Hormone therapy may induce breast soreness in transsexual women. The small amount of breast tissue that may remain after a mastectomy in transgender males may be the cause of their breast pain.

Breast pain rarely signifies breast cancer and typically suggests a benign (noncancerous) breast disease. It is important to get a diagnosis for any unexplained breast pain that does not go away after one or two menstrual cycles, lasts after menopause, or does not appear to be caused by hormonal changes.


Changes in hormone levels might affect the milk ducts or milk glands. Breast cysts are a frequent cause of cyclic breast pain and can be uncomfortable because of these changes in the ducts and glands. An injury, prior breast surgery, or other circumstances may be to blame for noncyclic breast soreness.

Although the exact cause of breast pain may not always be identified, a number of illnesses may increase the risk.

How to check if you have Breast Pain?

Make a medical appointment if you experience breast pain and it:

  • continues every day for more than a few weeks.
  • occurs in a single location on your breast.
  • appears to be deteriorating with time
  • disrupts routine activities
  • You are roused from slumber

The risk of developing breast cancer is quite low in those whose primary symptom is breast pain, but it is crucial to follow your doctor's advice if they advise getting the painful area examined.

Risk Factors

Although it can happen after menopause, breast pain is more prevalent in women who have not yet reached menopause. Additionally, men with gynecomastia and transgender people undergoing gender transition may experience breast pain.

Additional elements that could raise the likelihood of breast soreness include:

Breast volume. Large-breasted individuals may experience noncyclic breast pain that is related to their breast size. In addition to breast pain brought on by enormous breasts, neck, shoulder, and back pain may also be present.

A breast operation. Even after wounds have healed, breast pain from breast surgery and scarring can occasionally persist.

Unbalanced fatty acids. An imbalance of fatty acids inside the cells may alter the susceptibility of breast tissue to circulating hormones.

Taking medication. A few hormonal drugs, such as breast pain may be brought on by some infertility therapies and oral birth control tablets. After menopause, oestrogen and progesterone hormone therapy may cause breast discomfort as a side effect. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are among those that have been linked to breast pain. In addition, several antibiotics and medications for high blood pressure might cause breast soreness.

Use of caffeine in excess. Even though more research is necessary, some people find that cutting back or eliminating their caffeine intake helps their breast pain.


Breast pain may or may not be cyclic. Cyclic refers to the discomfort that follows a predictable pattern. Noncyclic refers to persistent pain or the absence of a predictable pattern. There are specific traits that each type of breast pain has.

Cyclic Breast Pain

The menstrual cycle and fluctuating hormone levels are undeniably connected.

 They are described as painful, heavy, or dull.  Breast enlargement, fullness, or lumpiness are frequently seen. Typically impacts both breasts, especially the top, and outer regions, and may spread to the underarm. It intensifies two weeks before the start of the menstrual cycle and then subsides after that.

Non-Cyclic Breast Pain

It is distinct from the menstrual cycle. A tight, scorching, stabbing or hurting feeling is described. It can be continuous or sporadic. It often only affects one breast, in a restricted area, but it can spread more widely. After menopause, it is most likely to happen to women.

Extramammary refers to something that is "outside the breast." Extramammary breast pain appears to originate in the breast tissue, but its true origin is elsewhere. For instance, pulling a muscle in the chest might result in pain that radiates (moves from the chest wall or rib cage to the breast). Costochondritis, an arthritic condition that affects the cartilage in the chest, can also be painful.


The causes of breast pain may be avoided by taking the following measures, however, further research is required to determine their efficacy.

  • If you can, avoid hormone therapy.
  • Prescription drugs that are known to aggravate or induce breast pain should be avoided.
  • When exercising, wear a sports bra and a bra that is correctly fitting.
  • Try relaxation treatment to reduce the high levels of worry brought on by persistent breast pain.
  • Although research on caffeine's impact on breast pain and other premenstrual symptoms has been inconsistent, some people find it useful to reduce or completely avoid caffeine in their diets.
  • Avoid lifting for an extended period of time.
  • Consume less fat and more complex carbohydrates.
  • Think about using an OTC painkiller like acetaminophen (Tylenol, among others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) — but be sure to ask your doctor how much to take, as prolonged use may increase your risk of side effects like liver issues.


Breast pain frequently goes away on its own over time. You might not need medical attention.

Your doctor might suggest the following if you require treatment or assistance controlling your pain:

  • Get rid of a contributing aspect or underlying cause. This might just require a minor modification, like using a bra with added support.
  • Apply a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) topical cream. If your pain is severe, you might need to use NSAIDs. Your doctor might advise you to directly apply an NSAID cream to the sore spot.
  • Birth control dosage adjustments. If you use birth control pills, skipping the week without tablets or switching to another method of birth control may lessen breast discomfort sensations. But before trying this, see your doctor.
  • Menopausal hormone therapy dosage should be decreased. You might think about reducing or eliminating menopausal hormone therapy altogether.

Complications of Breast Pain

Please access immediate medical assistance if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Any region of your breast is red, hot, or swollen
  • You have a high fever or feel shaky
  • You have nipple discharge, which may be streaked with blood
  • One or both of your breasts change shape
  • There is a hard lump in your breast that does not move
  • Your breast skin has dimpling (like orange peel)
  • Your nipple is covered in a rash, or it has sunk into your breast.
  • These can point to a more serious issue.


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Page last reviewed: Mar 10, 2023

Next review due: Mar 10, 2025

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