Breast Pain: Symptom and Causes


Pain may be felt in one or both breasts, or just in part of one breast. Pain may also be felt in the armpit or upper arm.
Breast pain may be described as:
  • Sharp, stabbing or shooting pain                 
  • Feeling of heaviness or fullness in the breast
  • Aching
  • Tenderness
  • Burning
  • Pinching
  • Swelling


The cause of breast pain is not well understood. It may be related to the changes of hormones during the menstrual cycle. Women taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills) or women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause often have breast pain.
Other causes of breast pain may include:
  • Breast cysts
  • Fibrocystic breast changes
  • Breast infection (mastitis)
  • An abscess (collection of pus) in the breast
  • Fat necrosis (a lump of dead fat cells that can occur after an injury)
  • Mammary duct ectasia (widened milk ducts)

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