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Published on January 21, 2019

woman having breast pain

Be Breast Healthy: Breast Pain

By Traci Redmond, CNP, Avera Medical Group Comprehensive Breast Care

One of the most common breast complaints women of all ages report is breast pain. Since 70-80 percent of women will experience breast pain at some point in their lifetime, understanding the many possible causes for breast pain is important.

Breast pain is often linked to menstrual cycle and hormonal changes, but it can also be related to musculoskeletal strain or trauma.

The two hormones most often involved with breast pain are estrogen and progesterone. When an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone occurs, and estrogen levels are higher, the rate of cell growth increases. This can cause pressure on the surrounding nerves, which can lead to pain.

Other times, breast pain doesn’t have anything to do with hormones or the monthly cycle. If you start a new exercise routine, rearranged your furniture or were in a recent car accident, you could have pain. Or, it can also come if you have gained significant weight. In each case, the strain on the muscles located below your breast tissue and the ligaments in your breast tissue are the root of the discomfort.

Certain medications may also lead to breast pain, but once your provider has ruled out the possibility of breast cancer with a clinical breast exam and possible breast imaging, then together you and your provider can discuss possible treatment options to help alleviate your symptoms. This can include compression with well-fitted sport bras or snug camisoles. Wearing compression both day and night often is recommended, and it helps. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen along with vitamin E and B supplements or evening primrose oil also may help.

Any time you have changes associated with your breast tissue or pain, it’s smart to talk to your provider to ensure appropriate action is taken. That way you can evaluate your symptoms as well as your risk for breast cancer.

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