Breast pain

Published on 10/03/2015 by admin

Filed under Obstetrics & Gynecology

Last modified 10/03/2015

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Breast pain, or mastalgia, is a very common complaint in women and represents the most common symptom in women seeking breast evaluation. Breast pain can be divided into three general categories: cyclic breast pain, noncyclic breast pain, and extramammary pain.

In young women, breast pain is usually cyclic, occurring most often a few days before menses and resolving after menses. Minor breast discomfort and swelling within the few days before the onset of menses is considered a normal physiologic occurrence. More severe and prolonged pain is considered cyclic mastalgia. Cyclic breast pain is usually bilateral and diffuse.

Noncyclic breast pain, in contrast, involves constant or intermittent pain that is not associated with the menstrual cycle. Noncyclic mastalgia is less common than cyclic mastalgia, is often unilateral, and often occurs postmenopausally. Noncyclic mastalgia often is described as “burning,” “achy,” or “sore.”

Extramammary pain caused by various conditions may manifest as breast pain, although costochondritis represents the most common cause of extramammary pain. It is usually easy to distinguish between pain localized to the breast or chest wall and that radiating from elsewhere.

Many women who seek treatment for breast pain are concerned about breast cancer, although in the presence of normal examination findings and normal mammograms, the risk of breast cancer is very low. If the pain is mild, an appropriate evaluation is usually sufficient. However, in more severe cases, the mastalgia may interfere with usual daily activities, and treatment may be necessary to help alleviate the symptoms.

Causes of Breast Pain

Cyclic Breast Pain

Noncyclic Breast Pain

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