It is likely that all women will experience some breast pain - or mastalgia - during their life, but fortunately for the majority of us this is usually mild and short-lived. There are some unluckier women; however, who suffer from a more intense pain which can be sudden and sharp, or a constant ache. If you belong to the latter group of women, it can be helpful to learn about what might be causing this condition, and how the pain can be reduced or even stopped entirely.
Causes of Severe Breast Pain
There are many factors that can lead to mastalgia, which can each result in either slight or extreme breast pain. The most common causes are:
Hormonal fluctuations. This type of pain is known as cyclical mastalgia, as it corresponds with the pattern of the menstrual cycle. It has to do with the behavior of hormones during certain points, and their effects on breast tissue.
Pregnancy. When a woman becomes pregnant the activity of hormones will change, and there is increased blood flow to the breasts. This can cause acute tenderness, and sometimes extreme pain.
Mastitis. This infection is common in women who breast-feed, but can also occur in other women if bacteria can enter the breast tissue through the nipple via cracked skin or a piercing. It causes inflammation which can lead to severe breast tenderness.
Muscle damage. An important muscle - the pectoralis major - is located around and behind the breasts. If this muscle becomes damaged through physical exercise or other strain, the pain can radiate through and cause very painful breasts.
How to Treat Severe Breast Pain
If you are faced with intense breast pain, there are a number of pain-relief or management techniques that you might find effective in treating the condition. Some popular, successful treatments include:
Wearing comfortable underwear. It is highly recommendable to have your breasts professionally measured, and seek advice when buying a bra for support and comfortability. Many women find they benefit from wearing a supportive bra throughout their periods of breast pain, whereas others prefer to wear none at all - and avoid much physical activity.
Heated pads or rub. The use of a hot water bottle, microwavable heat pad, or application of a warm muscle rub can often provide comfort, and reduce severe pain if not assuage it altogether.
Pain relief medication. Many women find oral tablets such as ibuprofen, paracetamol, or Tylenol can be hugely beneficial for quick and easy pain relief, although it should be noted that these medications will not address the root of the problem.
It can be upsetting and difficult to live with very painful breasts, especially if your condition is severe enough to impact on your day to day life. Understanding the causes of this problem can possibly help you to predict when and if you might be affected by it, which can then enable you to better prepare yourself with regards to solutions.