Breast pain is generally classified as either cyclical or noncyclic. Pain can range from minor discomfort to severely incapacitating in some cases. Many women with breast pain worry more about the consequences of cancer than about the pain itself. Many factors can cause breast pain, so it is important that you see your doctor for a professional diagnosis.
What is cyclical breast pain?
Cyclical is the most common type of breast pain and is often associated with the menstrual cycle or hormones. Some women begin to have pain around the time of ovulation, which continues until the beginning of their menstrual cycle. The pain can be either barely noticeable or so severe that the woman cannot wear tight-fitting clothing or tolerate close contact of any kind. The pain may be felt in only one breast or may be felt as a radiating sensation in the underarm region. Specific treatment for breast pain will be determined by your health care provider based on factors such as:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the condition
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or preference
What are the treatments for cyclical breast pain?
Treatments vary significantly and may include caffeine avoidance, Vitamin E, and a low-fat diet. In some cases, various supplemental hormones and hormone blockers are also prescribed. The risks and benefits of such treatment should be carefully discussed with your doctor.
What is noncyclic breast pain?
Noncyclic breast pain is fairly uncommon, and does not vary with the menstrual cycle. Generally, the pain is present at all times and is in only one specific location. Causes of non-cyclic breast pain can include trauma to the breast or arthritic pain in the chest cavity and in the neck, which radiates down to the breast.
What are the treatments for noncyclic breast pain?
Determining the appropriate treatment for noncyclic breast pain is more difficult, not only because it is hard to pinpoint where the pain is coming from, but also because the pain is not hormonal. Generally, health care providers will perform a physical examination and may order a mammogram. In some cases, a biopsy of the area is also necessary. If it is determined that the pain is caused by a cyst, the cyst will be aspirated, in which a small needle will be used to remove the liquid contents of the cyst. Depending on where the pain originates, treatment may include analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and compresses.