No matter how you slice it, sore breasts are sore. They’re uncomfortable. And, they can be nerve-wracking. It’s common to wonder if breast pain, swelling, heaviness, shooting or burning pangs, tightness might be signs of breast cancer.
The good news is, tender breasts can happen for a lot of reasons. Pain in one or both of your breasts isn’t a guaranteed sign you have breast cancer. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to take a moment to explore the common reasons for breast pain and breast soreness.
6 Common Reasons for Sore Breasts
1. Breast Pain Around Your Period
While the reproductive cycle is miraculous, it can also be downright frustrating, uncomfortable, and painful. In addition to dealing with the mess and tiredness that often comes with your period, you can experience what’s referred to clinically as ‘Cyclical Breast Pain.’ This is pain associated with your reproductive cycle.
In most cases, the pain will occur two weeks before your period. However, you can experience it before, after and during your period. It’s most common in your 20s and 30s (during your childbearing years), and then again during menopause.
Signs of breast pain associated with your period can include:
- Breasts seem lumpy
- Pain radiating from your armpits
2. Unbalanced Hormone Levels Can Cause Breast Pain
Hormones act as chemical messengers. They send signals throughout the body, stimulating or shutting down everything from muscle growth and metabolism to pain and pleasure. When your hormones become unbalanced, these messages are disrupted or inaccurately communicated.
As you age, your hormonal changes can cause fibrocystic changes to your breasts. This is when fibrous tissue (scar-like tissue) and cysts (sacs filled with fluid) form in your breasts. While this is painful, it’s normal and typically harmless. Unless your symptoms are severe, treatment is often not needed.
3. Fatty Acid Imbalances
Fatty acids are found in vegetable oils and animal oils. Research suggests that an imbalance can cause breast sensitivity. If your doctor finds this is contributing to your breast pain, they may recommend reducing the fat in your diet.
However, it’s worth noting a recent study released in 2015 has shown that Omega-3 fats may help with pain reduction in cancer patients. So while too much fat is a bad thing, too little may also be a bad thing. This is why we always recommend enjoying a balanced diet loaded with healthy nutrients and vitamins.
4. Radiating Breast Pain
Radiating breast pain, often referred to as extramammary, is breast pain that’s actually coming from another part of your body. Often, the pain is coming from your chest wall. In most cases, this is a result of a strenuous activity like lifting, raking or shoveling.
You’re more prone to experience this pain if you’ve engaged in a new activity, which stressed your muscles in ways they aren’t generally used.
5. Breast Infections
Breast infections are most common among women who are breastfeeding, as the breast is being exposed to a wide range of foreign bodies. However, it can occur at any age. If you’re your nipples have chafed on clothing or due to a strenuous activity, it can cause them to become irritated, allowing bacteria to enter and an infection to occur.
You may experience breast pain after a physical trauma. Common sources of trauma include surgery and breast implants. However, trauma can also include a forceful impact, such as falling down or being hit with a large object, a common occurrence among those playing a physical sport.
Worried About Breast Pain? Talk to Your Medical Professional.
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