Pain in the Breast-Causes, Symptoms

Pain in the breast or mastalgia is a common occurrence and complaint amongst women. Many women who experience mastalgia typically become concerned since they fear that it is a symptom of a serious underlying condition such as cancer. However, pain in the breast is not a common symptom of cancer. There are different causes of mastalgia. Some experience this type of pain due to the natural processes that the female body undergoes, some have certain health conditions causing the pain, while other cases have no specific cause and the pain just resolves by itself.

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Symptoms of pain in the breast

The pain described by majority of women maybe a sharp, burning, chronic tenderness or tightness in the breast tissue. At times breasts are slightly painful to the touch or even a little bit of movement brings slight pain.

A number of women experience severe pain in their heir breasts regularly for more than 5 days every month. These pains usually start days before the menstrual period and resolves as soon as the menstrual flow starts. However, in some females, the pain may still carry on during the menstrual period. Some women experience breast pain during postmenopausal phase. But the symptom usually affects the majority of the younger, perimenopausal and premenopausal women.

Some women are worried that breast pains signify breast cancer. Most of the time breast pains signal a benign breast condition and it rarely signals breast cancer. Women should not take it for granted though if the pain still persists even after the next menstrual period or of it carries on after menopause. In cases such as these, there is a need to see a specialist for proper evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.

Pain in the breast are classified into noncyclic and cyclic. Each has distinct characteristics of breast pain.


• Pain is without a doubt related to the menstrual period

• Oftentimes accompanied by lumpiness or breast swelling

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• Commonly affects both sides of the breasts, especially the outer and upper portions and sometimes affects the area around the underarm

• Heavy or dull aching

• The more severe it gets during first 2 weeks that leading to the menstrual period, and then pain becomes less severe afterwards

• Commonly affects pre-menopausal women in their twenties and thirties and peri-menopausal women in their forties


• Commonly affects post-menopausal women

• Usually affects 1 breast but may extend to the other breast

• May be intermittent or constant

• Felt as tight, sore or burning

• Not related to the menstrual period

Breast pain that is classified as extramammary is pain felt in the breast but the root cause or origin is somewhere else. A fine example is when pulling a certain muscle in the chest which could bring pain to either the rib cage or the chest wall.

Causes of breast pain

The exact cause of the breast pain may not be possible to identify, but most likely they are:

• Breast size

• Medication use

• Imbalance of fatty acids

• Anatomical factors

• Reproductive hormones

It is best to seek medical attention if any of the following occurs:

• The pain meddles with your daily activities

• The pain grows worse as time passes by

• The pain is confined to one location of the breast

• The pain carries on daily for more than several weeks

The doctor will take your medical history and/or conduct physical examination to determine if something happened that caused the pain. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor questions if you are left unsatisfied with their explanation or you do not fully understand what he or she is telling you. Also read about chest pain in women

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