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 Breast Pain, Mastalgia, Mastodynia.

   Breast Pain can vary in:

  • Intensity:  A minor irritation to marked pain.

  • Duration:  Last for a short while every cycle  to being present all the time!

  • Location: Maybe all over both breasts or specifically in one area alone.

 3 main categories of breast pain are 

  •  Cyclical pain : Related to the menstrual cycle. Most common.   

  •  Noncyclical  : “Trigger zone” pain.

  •  Non breast origin pain : does not originate in the breast.

Cyclical Pain

This is related to hormonal variations.

The breasts are sensitive right before menstruation, then less sensitive once the period begins. The duration and severity can vary in different women. Usually it affects both breasts with no specific area of pain.  

Management                                                        If age is less than 30 years

  • Symptomatic relief with analgesics like Aspirin, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen could help. 

  • Wearing a firm bra will prevent bouncing breasts from increasing discomfort. 

  • Nonsteroidal analgesics (NSAIDs) can be applied directly to the breast in a gel, which can be beneficial. 

In age group over 30 years

  •  Clinical examination maybe followed by further investigations like

  • Sonomammogram 

  • Mammogram. 

Once cancer is ruled out, management can be undertaken as for under 30 age group . 

Non- Cyclical Pain  

This is less common. It’s also known as “trigger zone” breast pain because it’s almost always in one specific area, maybe due to something in the breast tissue . It feels different from cyclical pain and does not vary with the menstrual cycle. Cause could be: 

  • A large cyst  causing localized breast pain or tenderness.  

  • Trauma or injury. 

  •  It can be a sign of cancer.



  •  Clinical examination

  •  Sonomammogram

  • Mammogram, especially if over thirty.

 Treatment for this kind of breast pain is more complex, as cause is not always identified. Some women may find relief with the kinds of treatments mentioned under cyclical breast pain.  

 Non Breast Origin Pain

This is not really a form of breast pain, though that’s what it feels like.

It is usually located in the middle of the chest 

It is not cyclical.

Costochondritis of the ribs, an arthritic pain is the most common.

Arthritis in the neck can radiate down into the breast and cause a similar effect.

These pains are usually self-limited and will go away in time with symptomatic management.

To identify the type of pain

Keep a Breast Pain Chart

On a Daily basis record

  • Severity- whether the pain is severe, mild, or absent.

  • Days when pain is present

  • Compare with the days of your period.

Looking at this, it can easily be determined whether the pain is cyclical or noncyclical.

Likelihood of Breast pain being an indication of  cancer.

  • Non breast origin pain is unrelated to breast cancer.

  • Cyclical pain is unrelated to breast cancer.

  • Noncyclical pain very rarely can be a sign of cancer so it should be evaluated

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