NCBI Bookshelf. Boston: Butterworths; Breast pain is a sensation of aching, pulling, drawing, burning, or stinging in one or both breasts as a result of functional or pathologic conditions of the breast or, secondarily, due to extrinsic causes.
Pointing to the outer lateral breast, she describes intermittent achiness, along with a sharp stabbing pain lasting about 30 seconds if the breast is pressed or palpated. She asks whether this pain might be a symptom of breast cancer. She is also seeking pain relief because her symptoms occasionally interfere with sleep and her exercise routine.
Breast pain may be due to normal cyclical changes in hormone levels or due to certain diseases. Cyclical hormonal changes are the most common cause of breast pain but a doctor should always be consulted to determine the cause of this symptom. Breast cancer is rarely the cause of breast pain, only accounting for 1.
For many people, breast pain is related to the menstrual cycle or other hormonal changes. Although you can usually treat mild soreness at home, infections and other underlying conditions require medical attention. In these cases, there are typically additional symptoms. Your healthcare provider will use this information to help identify the underlying cause and advise you about any next steps.
Localized breast pain is usually caused by a focal disorder that causes a masssuch as a breast cyst, or an infection eg, mastitisabscess. Most breast cancers do not cause pain. Diffuse bilateral pain may be caused by fibrocystic changes or, uncommonly, diffuse bilateral mastitis.
What are the causes of left breast pain in women? We will address the many possible causes of pain in this region—both those due to breast issues and those that are not—but first: Make sure it isn't your heart. While your left breast pain is most likely due to something else, the first question you need to ask yourself is if you could be having symptoms of a heart attack.
A more recent article on common breast problems is available. See related patient information handout on breast painwritten by Amy S. Weichel, D. Related Editorial.
Professional Reference articles are designed for health professionals to use. You may find the Breast Pain Mastalgia article more useful, or one of our other health articles. Pain is one of the most common breast symptoms experienced by women and management requires careful assessment and diagnosis.