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Breast Pain

Breast Pain Causes

Although the exact cause of breast pain cannot be pinpointed, several theories exist to explain the discomfort. Cyclic breast pain is attributed to hormonal changes in the body; whereas noncyclic breast pain is believed to result from certain anatomical problems. Another theory hints that breast pain in general may be due to an imbalance of fatty acids in the cells. In addition, some medications such as hormonal treatments have been known to cause breast pain as well.

Breast Pain Definition

Breast pain is a common complaint of discomfort among women, affecting approximately seventy percent of females at some point in their lives. Breast pain, also known as mastalgia, is more common in the younger age bracket, particularly among pre-menopausal women, although it may afflict older females as well.

Breast Pain Diagnosis

Initial diagnostic step for breast pain is getting the patient's medical history and examining clinical symptoms. The physician may ask questions relating to the location, severity, or frequency of the pain; along with questions about current medications taken and other symptoms experienced. For older women, a mammography may be required to check for abnormalities not seen during physical examination.

Breast Pain Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms of breast pain vary according to its type. Breast pain may occur in a pattern linked to the menstrual cycle, in which case it is called cyclic breast pain. Another form of breast pain, called noncyclic breast pain, occurs constantly, intermittently, with no relation to the menstrual cycle. A third type of breast pain, called extramammary breast pain, is actually pain originating from a different part of the body but feels like it's arising from the breast.

Breast Pain Treatment

Breast pain rarely requires specific treatment. If no carcinoma is detected, treatment may involve only basic self-care remedies such as wearing brassieres with extra support as well as taking over-the-counter drugs to manage pain. If the pain is caused by an underlying condition or other aggravating factors, further medications may be prescribed, including: topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral contraceptives, and, in chronic cases, potent drugs such as bromocriptine, danazol, and tamoxifen.

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