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 Problems Spotlight

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.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with breast pain?

Breast pain may occur by itself or with other symptoms. Some signs of breast problems may only be evident through medical testing, so seek regular medical care if you have breast pain or changes in your breasts. Symptoms that may occur along with breast pain include:... Read more about breast painsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes breast pain?

Breast pain may be caused by a variety of diseases, disorders and conditions. Sometimes breast pain is caused by a benign condition that is not generally harmful, such as pregnancy and other conditions that cause hormonal changes. In fact, over the course of your life, your breasts will undergo normal changes in size, shape, consistency and appearance. However, because breast pain and breast changes may indicate a serious condition, such as breast cancer, it is important to seek prompt medical care if you experience unexplained breast pain or other breast symptoms.... Read more about breast paincauses

Medical Reviewer: William J. Bogus, OD, FAAO Last Annual Review Date: Apr 29, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.