The different types of breast pain

November 12, 2012

The different types of breast pain

Nearly every woman will experience some form of breast pain at least one time in her life. Whether it is the tender breast pain that occurs just before a period or an unrelated kind of pain. Breast pain can be mild or severe and varies woman to woman. Breast pain is usually put into one of two categories; cyclical breast pain, which is related to menstruation and often occurs in latter half of the monthly cycle or Noncyclical pain, which is pain that is completely un related to the menstrual cycle. It is thought that 7 out of 10 women will develop breast pain at some time during their life with 1 in 3 cases being cyclical and 1 in 3 being non-cyclical pain. Keeping a written record of pain occurrence over a few months can help to distinguish which kind of pain you are suffering from. Record the day that your breasts were painful, what kinds of pain it was and how intense it was. Cyclical breast pain can begin to appear in women as soon as they start to have periods. It is most common though in older women, between the ages of 30 and 50 and will stop as soon as the woman has gone through the menopause. Symptoms are usually mild, causing some discomfort in the few days prior to having a period but the level of pain can vary each month. Other symptoms that women may experience are lumpy or swollen breasts and pain may occur in the inner arm as well as the breasts. Pain will often feel worse during exercise or sexual activity. This kind of breast pain is thought to be due to sensitive breast tissue.

Cyclical breast pain may come and go from month to month or over many years and if symptoms occur that are particularly severe treatment may be required. This may include painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetemol, topical anti-inflammatory creams, evening primrose oil or hormone blocking drugs. You may want to think about whether any medications you are taking are contributing to your symptoms. For example the contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy may be making the pain more severe. Wearing a well fitting, supportive bra can also help reduce breast pain, especially during exercise.

Noncyclical pain most commonly affects women 40 years and older. The pain can be constant or come and go at random and can appear in just one or both breasts. The cause is often unclear but some possibilities include muscular or bone problems of the chest wall under the breast, infection, shingles, a problem in the breast tissue and in some very rare cases a tumour or cancer. It is best to see a doctor to try to discover the underlying cause. Often the pain will disappear by itself but in some cases pain killers or topical treatments may be required.

Breast pain can often lead women to immediately assume and worry about breast cancer. Breast pain is rarely a symptom of breast cancer, especially early on. The first symptoms are usually either a painless lump in the breast or under arm, discharge from the nipple, swelling or redness in the breast or any symptom associated with pregnancy such as missing a period.

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