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What treatments can ease breast pain?

The following are suggestions for reducing breast pain if you have a normal mammogram:
  • Wear a supportive bra without underwires or padding during the day and a soft cotton athletic bra at night.
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine in your diet, as it can irritate the breast.
  • Limit salt (especially before your menstrual period) to reduce swelling.
  • Eat a low-fat diet.
  • Take Vitamin E supplements daily.
  • Try evening primrose oil. Note: Evening primrose oil may cause miscarriage. Do not take if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
  • Try over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS such as ibuprofen) or pain relievers (Tylenol).
  • If you are taking hormone therapy, you may need a change in your medication. Always check with your doctor before changing your prescribed therapy.
  • You may want to try alternative or holistic health techniques (herbs, acupuncture, meditation) to reduce pain.
Blood tests, the MRI and the CT should be able to find a cancer if you have one. Ask your doctors to do some extra diagnosis tests if you want to rule out cancer. Make sure each of your doctors has all of your medications and full history so that they can make an accurate diagnosis. Discuss your concerns with your doctors about your future and how to manage the pain in the best way possible. Future employers may require a drug screen prior to hiring, but as long as you can provide documentation that your medications have been prescribed by a physician, they should not be able to discriminate against you because of your medications. Discuss with your physicians specific limitations you should be following. You could also ask about physical therapy which might help you overcome some of the pain you are experiencing. Daily stretching and light exercises may also help with recovery from injuries that cause pain. Be sure to follow the routine prescribed by your doctors or physical therapist or ask about what types of exercises you should be doing at home if they have not provided you with any.
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Breast pain, also called mastalgia, is a common symptom with several different causes.

Important details about the timing and location of the pain will help determine the cause. Breast pain may come and go in a pattern timed to the menstrual cycle, it may be continuous, or occur randomly. Pain may affect both breasts or be isolated to a specific location in one breast.

Breast pain can be caused by the hormone changes of the menstrual cycle and by those leading to menopause. Hormone related pain tends to be most severe just prior to menses and involve both breasts. As a woman approaches menopause, the timing of menstrual related events, including breast pain, may become less predictable.

Pain that is more local to one spot or isolated to a single breast may be caused by a cyst, growth, or infection. Breast cysts are fluid filled sacs often surrounded by dense fibrous tissue. They tend to come and go and can be drained if symptoms are severe.

Pain is not a typical symptom of cancer. And infection is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as redness, fever, or discharge.

Any breast pain that continues, is severe or is located on one spot of the breast should be evaluated by your doctor. If a specific cause is found and treated, the pain will go away.

General measures to relieve breast pain include:
  • Mild analgesics (ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
  • Warm compresses
  • Wearing a good supporting bra, especially for exercise
Treating cyclic breast pain may also include the use of oral contraceptives or other hormones.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.