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Information from Your Family Doctor
When You Have Breast Pain
Am Fam Physician. 2000 Apr 15;61(8):2385.
See related article on breast problems.
Breast pain is a common problem in younger women who are still having their periods (menstrual cycle). It is less common in older women. The pain can be in one breast or in both. It may come and go each month, or it may last for several weeks, or even months, and then just go away.
What causes breast pain?
Pain or tenderness in your breasts can have many causes. Here are some of them:
Hormone changes during your period
Water retention, which may happen during your period
Injury to your breast
An infection in the breast
Breast cancer (not a usual cause of breast pain)
How can my doctor find the cause of my breast pain?
Your doctor will ask you questions to find the cause of your pain and decide if you need treatment. Your doctor will also check to see if you have lumps in your breasts.
If you are younger than 35 years of age and don't have a breast lump, your doctor might decide that you don't need any tests. If you are more than 35 years of age and don't have a breast lump, your doctor might want you to get a mammogram. A mammogram is a special x-ray of the breasts.
If you have a lump (or several lumps) in your breast, your doctor might decide that you need one or more of these tests:
A breast sonogram. This painless test uses sound waves to make a picture of the lump.
A breast biopsy. For this test, some tissue is taken out of your breast and looked at under a microscope.
How is breast pain treated?
There are different treatments for breast pain. You and your doctor can talk about these treatments and choose one or more that might work for you. Here are some treatments for breast pain that does not seem to have a cause:
Wearing a support bra
Taking an over-the-counter pain medicine
Taking evening primrose oil
Taking danazol (brand name: Danocrine)—for pain that is very bad
Other treatments for breast pain are sometimes used. There is no proof that these treatments work:
Using less salt
Taking vitamin E or vitamin B6
Taking a “water-pill” (a diuretic)
Most of the time, breast pain goes away all by itself after a few months.
This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.
Copyright © 2000 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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