Pain in the breast is quite common, so much so that around 70% of women have experienced pain or burning sensation in the breast at some point or other in their life.
Many times, the pain is not serious and goes away on its own. In contrast to popular belief, pain in the breast alone is not even a typical sign of breast cancer. It is only concerning when other symptoms accompany the pain.
Most women feel unbearable pain in the breasts a week or two before getting their period.
Casual pain in the breast is not uncommon and more or fewer results from hormonal fluctuations. If you are experiencing sharp pain in breast that comes and goes for a prolonged period, consult your doctor immediately and nip the cause at the earliest.
Often, breast pain is caused due to hormonal changes but may also arise due to an infection, noncancerous blockages or tissue growths, and injuries to the chest or breast. Some very common reasons for sharp shooting pain in breast include the following:
Many menstruators experience tenderness and sharp pain in breast that comes and goes due to hormonal changes postmenstrual cycle.
This stabbing pain in breast is called cyclic breast pain, developing around a week or so before and going away after the period. This pain can cause -
Wearing well-fitting bras provides comfortable support, which can relieve breast pain.
Bacterial infections in the breast are usually caused by a common bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, found on the skin or the nose. The bacteria may enter the skin via a crack in the skin, usually on the nipple.
The breast's fatty tissue is most infected in this type of infection, and the swelling pushes on the milk ducts, making breasts pain, swelling, and lumps. Common symptoms of bacterial infection (mastitis) include -
Mastitis is treated using antibiotics and a warm cloth on the breast. When there is an unhealing abscess, a doctor may have to drain it, which should not be done at home on one's own.
Breast cysts are oval or round tissue growths filled with liquid. 25% of breast masses are benign cysts and are moveable under the skin. However, for a large, painful, or uncomfortable cyst, a doctor may have to drain it using a fine needle.
While diagnosing a breast cyst, a doctor may require a test using the cells or fluids from within the cyst to see if the cyst has irregular or scalloped edges or shows signs of debris or solid areas to rule out the chances of breast cancer.
Pregnancy changes a lot in the breasts, spikes certain hormones, and increases blood flow and fluid levels, causing pain, swelling, and tenderness in the breast.
Additionally, many women complain about cramping while breastfeeding. This may happen due to milk building up in the milk ducts, causing them to get clogged, resulting in slower milk flow and painful lump formation.
Using a breast pump and other maternity products, wearing a maternity bra, nursing bra, or sports bra helps alleviate pain post-pregnancy.
Smooth, noncancerous lumps that are easily moveable under the skin and are usually painless are known as fibroadenomas and may hurt before their period.
Most of the time, fibroadenomas do not need any treatment. However, painful and complex lumps might pose a threat and require surgery to be done.
Interestingly, breast pain is not the actual pain site and may occur due to excessive pain in another part of the body, which is called referred pain. A compressed nerve in the body may cause some sensation in the breast. This pain may radiate from-
It is always advised to consult a doctor to identify the actual reason behind the pain in breast tissue and treat it effectively.
Apart from the aforementioned reasons, sharp shooting pain in the breast often may result from a -
Poorly fitted bras can also cause imbalanced posture, which can further strain the breasts and back and cause upper and lower back pain.
Moreover, a lot of older women may experience breast pain after menopause onset. Some medicines can have grave side effects, too, which can lead to excessive pain in the breast.
Many women with heavy breasts suffer from the problems of stabbing breast pain because of the excess pressure put on their neck, shoulder, and chest.
Proper exercise, a healthy diet, and effective support or compression bras can help one curb stabbing pain in breast.
What may help you to curb stabbing pain in breast depends on whether the pain experienced is cyclic or non-cyclic. Cyclic pain refers to the pain that comes and goes at certain intervals. It can subside when treated but eventually surface again after a while. Whereas the non-cyclic pain is caused due to surgery or trauma and may go away after taking the right treatment.
|Characteristic||Cyclic Breast Pain||Noncyclic Breast Pain|
|Timing||Typically occurs before, during, or after your menstrual cycle||Can occur at any time|
|Symptoms||Dullness, Heaviness, tenderness, prickling or stabbing pain||Breast lumps, burning, tightness, sharp or localized pain|
|Location||Primarily affects both breasts||May be localized to a specific area in one or both breasts|
|Duration||Goes away when the period begins or ends||May be persistent and not related to the menstrual cycle, lasting for an extended period|
HPFY offers a wide range of temperature therapy and pain relief products to relieve cyclic breast pain. These help in curbing the pain for a short while; however, the pain may come back, and you may have to seek medical help.
Heat and cold packs are effectively used for pain relief. While heat relaxes the sore muscles and calms the pinching feeling in the breast, the ice helps relieve the inflammation and improve blood flow to the area.
If the breast pain is caused due to breastfeeding, consider using a cold compress after the nursing session.
Similarly, women who have recently undergone breast surgery may experience non-cyclic tingling and stinging pain in the breast, armpit, and chest wall. Many women also complain about having shoulder or scar pain.
Compression bras can be an ideal method for curbing the pain if it has been two or more weeks since you had the surgery.
Compression bra offers medical-grade compression to increase blood circulation and reduce the risk of lymphedema. It evenly distributes compression around the back and provides support so that the wearer can move easily after mastectomy or reconstructive surgery.
As mentioned earlier, sharp shooting pain in breast alone is not serious; however, when some other symptoms accompany the breast pain, it is time to consult a doctor. These symptoms may be -
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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...
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