Nurse Emma’s Latest Blog – Breast Pain

Breast pain is something we discuss a lot at Lady McAdden since around 70% of women experience it at some point in their lives. We fully appreciate that breast pain can cause anxiety and can even affect sleep and certain activities. However, what is important to remember is that breast pain on its own is very rarely a sign of breast cancer.

So what causes it? Well, there are two types of breast pain known as Cyclical Breast Pain and Non-Cyclical Breast Pain.

Cyclical pain is caused by hormone changes in your body and is linked to your periods, pregnancy and menopause. This type of pain is usually in both breasts and may present as dull pain, a sensation of heaviness or aching pain, burning, prickling or stabbing and can sometimes travel to the armpit, down the arm or to the shoulder blade. It is common in women aged 30-50 and may vary throughout the month commonly starting 3-7 days before your period starts and can last up to 2 weeks. 

Here are some changes you can make yourself to help ease the pain:

  • Eat a healthy diet and especially be careful of your saturated fat intake
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Reduce your caffeine intake before your period 
  • Drink alcohol in moderation 
  • Discuss your medication with your GP as the contraceptive pill and some anti-depressants can affect breast pain 
  • You may find relaxation therapies helpful such as yoga or meditation
  • Speak to your GP about taking Evening Primrose Oil, Starflower and Vitamin E as this has been shown to help some women who may have low levels of the fatty acid GLA. Your GP will advise you how much to take and for how long. However, these remedies cannot be used in pregnancy or women with epilepsy. 
  • Make sure your bra fits well. If you would like a bra fitting, we recommend Coco Boo in Leigh on Sea where there is no obligation to buy any underwear. Alternatively, Bravissimo in Chelmsford offer bra fitting services. It is important to wear the correct size bra as your breasts can change size during your cycle 

Non-Cyclical Pain is not linked to hormones and can be caused by: 

  • Injuries to the neck, shoulders or upper back 
  • Infections such as mastitis or an abscess 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Chest wall pain originating in the muscles behind the breasts. This can feel like breast pain but can be from a pulled muscle in your chest or inflammation around your ribs. 
  • For both types of breast pain, you may wish to try using paracetamol, Ibuprofen or pain relief gel to ease your discomfort. 

Remember it is so important to keep checking your breasts once a month and if you have periods, around 5 days after your period is the best time. If this self-help advice doesn’t ease your symptoms, we always recommend that you see your GP. And of course, if you notice any changes to how your breasts feel or look then see your GP straight away about this too.