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7 Probable Causes For Shooting Pain In The Breast

7 Probable Causes For Shooting Pain In The Breast
Shweta Chaubey

Sharp pain in breast is quite common, so much so that around 70% of women have experienced shooting pain in their breast at some point or the 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. 

Common Causes for Sharp Pain in Breast 

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 breast pain are -  

1. Menstrual cycle 

Many menstruators experience tenderness and shooting pain in breast due to hormonal change that comes and goes after their menstrual cycle. 

This stabbing pain in the breast is called cyclic breast pain, developing around a week or so before and going away after the period. Additionally, the cyclic breast pain causes - 

  • heaviness in both breasts 
  • discomfort or lumpiness in the breast 
  • nipple pain 
  • tenderness and tightness in the breast 

Wearing well-fitting bras provides comfortable support, which can relieve the cyclic pain in breast. 

2. Bacterial Infection 

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 -  

  • Tenderness 
  • Sudden and intense pain 
  • Warmth or redness 
  • Swelling and itching 
  • Abscesses 
  • Fever and nipple discharge 

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. 

3. Breast Cysts  

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 chances of breast cancer


4. Gestation and Motherhood 

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. 

5. Fibroadenomas  

Smooth, noncancerous lumps easily moveable under the skin and are usually painless, are known as fibroadenomas, and may hurt before period.  

Most of time, fibroadenomas do not need any treatment, however painful and complex lumps might pose a threat and require surgery to be done. 

6. Referred Pain 

Interestingly, breast pain is not the actual pain site and may occur due to excessive pain in another part of the body and is called referred pain. A compressed nerve in the body may cause some sensation in the breast. Breast pain may radiate from-   

  • Neck and Shoulders Blades  
  • Lungs  
  • Upper Arms  
  • Armpits  
  • Upper Spine  
  • Throat or Esophagus  

It is always advised to consult a doctor to identify the actual reason behind the shooting pain in breast and treat it effectively. 

7. Other common causes for stabbing pain in breast 

Apart from the aforementioned reasons, sharp pain in breast often may result from a -   

  • Chest injury  
  • Breast surgery 
  • Poorly fitted bras 
  • Large breasts (that may cause strain in the neck and back) 
  • Medicines 

Poorly fitted bras can also cause imbalanced posture, which can further put a strain on the breasts and back and cause upper and lower back pain. Some medicines can have grave side effects too, which can lead to sharp pain in 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, healthy diet, and effective support or compression bras can help one curb the throbbing pain in breasts

When is Shooting Pain in Breast serious? 

As mentioned earlier, stabbing pain in breast alone is not serious; however, when some other symptoms accompany a sharp pain in breast, it is time to consult a doctor. These symptoms maybe -  

  • Prolonged and not going away pain in the breast. 
  • Chest pressure. 
  • Trouble breathing, with or without chest discomfort. 
  • Discomfort or pain in the jaw, neck, one or both arms, stomach, or back. 
  • Painful contraction or fullness in the center of the chest. 
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, or cold sweat. 
  • Unconsciousness. 

Casual shooting pain in breast is not uncommon and more or less is the result of hormonal fluctuations. If you are experiencing breast pain for a prolonged period, consult your doctor immediately and nip the cause at the earliest.  

To relieve pain in the breast wear soft, comfortable bras, apply gentle heat, and take over-the-counter drugs. If the pain persists, seek medical help. 


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Shweta Chaubey

Shweta Chaubey

Shweta is a gifted writer with a keen interest in the arts. A law school graduate, her interest in health and wellness led her to HPFY. She believes in hard work, honesty, and being humble. These beliefs have taken her ...

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