Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Mastalgia

(Breast Pain)

Definition

Mastalgia is breast pain. There are two types:

  • Cyclical pain is linked to menstrual cycles
  • Noncyclical pain is not linked to menstrual cycles

Causes ^

In some people, the cause is unknown.

The pain can be caused by:

  • Hormonal changes from your cycle
  • Pregnancy
  • Trauma to the breast
  • Mastitis
  • Thrombophlebitis
  • Stretching of breast ligaments
  • Certain medicines, such as hormone medicines, antidepressants, or certain heart medicines

Risk Factors ^

Factors that may raise your chance of this pain:

  • Having large breasts
  • Not wearing a bra that fits well and has good support.
  • Using certain medicines

Symptoms ^

The main symptom is pain in the breast area. Pain may be mild or severe. It may be in both breasts or just one. It may be painful only in one spot or all over.

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Call your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection, such as redness, tenderness, fever, or chills.

Call your doctor if you notice any other changes in your breasts, such as:

  • Change in the size or shape
  • Leaking from your nipple
  • New lumps or masses
  • Other changes to the skin, such as crusting, dimpling, or puckering

Call your doctor if your pain lasts, gets in the way of your daily routine, or is in one area of your breast.

Diagnosis ^

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis is most often based on a review of pain patterns and the exam.

Your doctor may order further testing to look for any suspicious changes. You may have:

Treatment ^

Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment will be based on what is causing your pain. You may have:

Medications

Topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may ease pain. Other medicines may be prescribed to help ease cyclical mastalgia.

If you are taking hormones, such as estrogen or progesterone, your doctor may make changes to your medicines to reduce pain.

Other Treatments

Your doctor may suggest some changes depending on the cause of your pain. You may be advised to:

  • Wear a bra that fits well and has good support.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Eat a low-fat diet.
  • Use a hot or cold pack.

Prevention ^

Mastalgia can’t be prevented.

RESOURCES:

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
http://www.acog.org

Office on Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services
http://www.womenshealth.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Canadian Women's Health Network
http://www.cwhn.ca

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC)
http://sogc.org

REFERENCES:

Mastalgia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115072/Mastalgia. Updated April 24, 2017. Accessed July 24, 2018.

Morrow M. The evaluation of common breast problems. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(8):2371-2378.

Rosolowich V, Saettler E, Szuck B, et al. Mastalgia. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2006;28(1):49-71.

Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kathleen A. Barry, MD  Last Updated: 7/24/2018