Breast Pain


Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is breast pain?

Breast pain includes any type of pain or discomfort that occurs in your breasts, including the nipples and areolas. Breast pain can affect women and men in any age group or population. Breast pain may be described in a variety of ways, such as tenderness, aching or burning. Breast pain can occur in one or both breasts at the same time.

Breast pain can vary in character and intensity depending on the underlying cause and individual factors. It can be constant or may be felt only when you examine or massage your breast. Breast pain can gradually build over weeks or months if a painful lump forms slowly, or it can appear suddenly, such as can occur with mastitis or injury to the breast.

Your breasts will undergo normal changes over the course of your life in size, shape, consistency and appearance. Hormonal changes are a common cause of breast pain and other breast symptoms. Hormonal changes can occur at the onset of puberty; during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, breastfeeding, perimenopause and menopause; and with the use of hormone medications.

Breast pain can also be caused by physical changes, such as weight fluctuations, or other causes, such as breast injury and breast surgery. Breast pain can also occur due to cancer and other diseases, disorders and conditions, such as breast infections, breast adenosis, and cysts.

Seek prompt medical care if you have unexplained breast pain or changes in one or both breasts. Left undetected and untreated, some underlying causes of breast pain, such as mastitis and breast cancer, can lead to life-threatening complications. Seeking regular medical care throughout your life improves your chances of discovering serious diseases at their earliest, most curable stages.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 7, 2016

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View Sources

Medical References

  1. Benign Breast Conditions (Benign Breast Disease). Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
  2. Breast pain. MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
  3. Breast Pain in Women.
  4. Breast Problems in Men.
  5. Detecting and Treating Breast Problems. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  6. Fibrocystic Breast Changes. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  7. Non-Cancerous Breast Conditions. American Cancer Society.
  8. Symptoms [of Breast Cancer]. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  9. Understanding Breast Changes: A Health Guide for Women. National Cancer Institute.

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