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What are some causes of breast pain?

Hormones are linked to pain and tenderness in the breasts.

The most common cause of breast pain in women is caffeine.

Dr. Jaspreet G. Kaur, DO
Family Practitioner

Some causes of breast pain, depending upon a woman’s age, are hormonal changes and inflammatory changes. For example, a woman’s menstrual cycle can cause pain. Breast tissue can engorge while a woman is on her period and that can cause pain and discomfort.

There could be breast pain if there is a nodule or a mass that's pressing and if there's any inflammatory reaction happening, especially in the axilla where the lymph nodes are. Also, if you have very dense fibrocystic breast tissue, or a lumpy breast tissue, that could mean there is a small cyst underneath, which could also cause breast pain.

Likely causes of breast pain are:

  • Fibrocystic changes in the breast tissue, which can cause the breast to feel ropy or granular
  • Fluid-filled sacs (cysts) in the breast, enlarging and becoming tender before the menstrual period
  • Hormone changes at menopause
  • Estrogen replacement therapy
  • Infection in the milk ducts (mastitis)
  • Injury to the breast or nearby nerves
  • Inflammation of the breast bone and ribs, sometimes mistaken for breast pain

The most common breast pain occurs right before the period due to hormone activity.

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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.