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Women's general health

6 Major reasons your breasts hurt so much and how to manage them

Dr Olamide .E. Oyende



Pain in the breast can mean different things to different people.
In an average female, it could be:
1. hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or lactation (usually comes in form of discomfort or mild tenderness),
2. from muscles in the chest behind the breasts,

3. an abscess formation (collection of pus in the breast),

4. mastitis (infection in the breast),
5. cancerous growth (usually in the presence of a lump and/or family history of breast cancer), or
6. due to fat necrosis (dying fatty tissues as a result of traumatic injuries, surgery or radiation exposure to the breast).



-When did I first notice the pain?
-What parts of the breasts are painful – outer, inner, nipples or chest behind the breasts?
-What preceded the onset of the pain?
-Am I starting my cycle soon or menstruating now?
-Am I pregnant or breastfeeding?
-Is there any swelling and/or lump associated to the pain?
-Is there any redness or tenderness?
-Is there any abnormal nipple changes or discharge?
-Did any rash erupt after the pain?
-If lactating, were your breasts engorged in the recent past?
-Is there family history of breast cancer or any other cancer?
-Did I fall or hit my breast on any hard surface?
-Is there any history of breast surgery or radiation treatments?



If related to menstruation or lactation, it is often mild and negligible, however, if severe, use pain relievers; go to see your doctor if pain does not subside afterwards.
Pain relievers will also work, if pain arises from the chest region behind the breasts.
See your doctor immediately in the presence of the following:
– fever, redness and/or severe tenderness.
– swelling and/or lump.
– abnormal nipple changes or discharge.
– family history of breast cancer.
– History of trauma, breast surgery or irradiation.

– Other symptoms of pregnancy.




Lactating mothers, with none of the above symptoms, should:
– use warm or cold compresses.
– empty their breasts by breastfeeding or expressing their breast milk.
– see the doctor if the symptoms persist.
Pain can affect one breast or both breasts at the same time, depending on the cause of the pain. In most cases, pain in the breasts go away without treatment. Furthermore, in some rare cases, the cause of the pain is either unknown or not clear.

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Dr Olamide E. Oyende is a graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University who is on a mission to impact people ‘wholly’ either through curative or preventive medicine; she is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who is also registered with the American Heart Association (AHA) as an Emergency Healthcare Provider. She reads and write for leisure and sees a lot of big and small screen productions.