All About Mastalgia – Breast Pain Causes & Treatments
Mastalgia is a collection of breast-related symptoms which can be caused due to several distinct reasons. The most common of these symptoms include mild or severe breast pain, tightness, heaviness, tenderness, and inflammation in the breasts. It mostly affects women in their 20s and 30s, a time when their body undergoes drastic hormonal changes. However, since the underlying causes can be diverse, a proper diagnosis is required to detect the right one. Breast pain usually starts in the upper regions of the breasts close to the axillary and can sometimes spread towards the arms.
Another crucial reason to visit a doctor immediately is to clarify that these symptoms aren’t associated with breast cancer. It’s a common misconception amongst women that breast pain and discomfort along with a cyst is probably linked to some cancerous growth, which in turn leads to mental distress and anxiety. But your doctor can help you understand the exact causes of your pain and ease your mind.
Causes of Mastalgia are widely classified into two categories:
Cyclic Breast Pain:
Most breast pain cases are related to the menstrual cycle in women, which causes dramatic changes in their hormone levels. Breast pain is common in menstruating women and typically starts before their periods. Women in the age range of 20 to 40 regularly experience breast pain in their upper and outer breast regions, along with some tenderness and swelling, which sometimes affects the underarms. All these symptoms are temporary and completely subside at later stages of their menstrual cycle.
Noncyclic Breast Pain:
Noncyclic causes typically affect women after menopause, causing overall pain and discomfort in either one or both breasts. This pain is irregular and may be combined with inflammation, soreness, tenderness, and fibrous lumps anywhere around the breasts. Other causes of noncyclic pain may include breast cysts, fibrocystic breast tissue, infections, fibroadenomas, etc. Costochondritis is another condition that causes inflammation at the bone junctions and the cartilage portions of the rib cage. All in all, most of these cases are a part of the natural aging process and can be easily treated with anti-inflammatory and pain medications.
Common Causes Of Breast Pain:
Women experience drastic hormonal changes at different stages of their lives like puberty, PMS, the first trimester of pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc. when breast pain might kick in. The female body is more sensitive to hormonal changes and experiences different episodes of breast pain as they grow older.
Women who conceive and lactate are at risk of sometimes developing infections around their milk ducts, a condition known as Mastitis. This infection grows towards the nipples causing severe pain with cracks, itching, burning, or blistering. Some women also suffer from fever and chills along with red streaks on the breasts.
For lactating women who can’t feed their baby frequently, overfilled breasts can often cause severe pain and heaviness in their breasts. In this state, the breasts appear swollen, and the surrounding skin becomes tightened and painful.
Women who eat fatty foods which can cause a fat-acid imbalance in their body are more prone to developing breast pain. The same goes for women who eat more refined carbs.
Sometimes, the pain in the breasts can be radiating from other parts linked to them the chest, arms, or back muscles. Any pain in these parts caused while performing physical activities can become the underlying cause of breast pain.
Women who undergo breast surgery have to practice strict precautions for safe recovery. However, the incision wound may cause some internal or external pain even after they have healed.
Medicines that manipulate hormones, such as birth control pills, infertility medications, and hormone replacement therapies can cause breast pain. Certain antidepressants, antibiotics, and heart medications can also have similar side-effects.
The most common problem that women with oversized breasts experience is breast and chest pain. Since the weight of their breasts is beyond what their upper body frame can handle, they can also cause stiffness in their necks and shoulders.
Smoking tobacco has been found to increase epinephrine levels in the breast tissues, which can potentially cause breast pain.
Treatment Options For Breast Pain:
Cyclic breast pain is easily manageable and almost always temporary. However, the causes of noncyclic breast pain are often hard to diagnose due to their diversity. Treating any of their symptoms does not require any surgical intervention, and they can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes. Once you tell your doctor about your breast pain problems, they’ll carefully analyze your overall health and help you with a proper management plan which will include specific guidelines, such as:
- Wearing comfortable and supportive bras and clothes when the pain starts
- Applying nonsteroidal pain reliving topical gels over the painful regions
- Calculating and reducing your dietary intake of caffeine, fatty foods, and sodium
- Taking a course of multivitamins with Vitamin E, calcium supplements, or primrose oil
- Applying warm or cold compresses over the breasts when they are painful
- Taking a course of over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) painkillers
Proper diagnosis and analysis are necessary to rule out the possibility of your breast pain being linked to breast cancer. Hence, if you have prolonged breast pain, it is prudent to visit a breast surgeon in Pune who specializes in Mastalgia treatment. Dr. Anupama Mane, one of the head surgeon at Deccan Clinic, is one such highly reputed specialist for breast pain treatment in Pune who can provide the most effective treatment plans to manage your breast-related issues. You can visit the Deccan clinic website to book your appointment with Dr. Anupama Mane and get the best solutions for mastalgia treatment in Pune.