Non-cyclic breast pain
Non-cyclic breast pain is pain in the breast and/or nipple that is not related to your period and that doesn’t have any particular pattern. About a third of women who have breast pain have the non-cyclic kind.
How will you feel if you have non-cyclic sore breasts?
- The pain may be continuous or may come and go.
- The pain may be felt in both breasts, one breast or even a specific part of one breast.
- Pain may extend into the armpit and down the arm.
- The pain may be described as burning, aching, drawing or pulling, or as heaviness in the breast.
Causes of non-cyclic breast pain
The source of the pain may be from within the breast itself or from structures close to the breast.
Pain from the breast
- Puberty: During puberty, breast pain may occur in both boys and girls, due to hormonal changes.
- Breast feeding,
- Breast cysts: A cyst is a localized collection of fluid. Pressure from the cyst pressing on surrounding tissues and nerves may lead to pain.
- Infections of the breast (mastitis): Mastitis may occur during breast-feeding (breast-feeding mastitis), or at other times. If you have mastitis, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Pain in the breast,
- Redness of the skin,
- Warmth in the breast,
- Breast swelling,
- Body aches,
- Extreme tiredness, or
- Fever and chills.
- Breast abscess: This is a collection of pus in the breast and is usually a result of infection. You may experience the following:
- A painful, mobile lump in the breast (if the abscess is very deep within the breast, you may not be able to feel it),
- Pus draining from the nipple, or
- Fever and other symptoms that have not improved 72 hours after starting treatment for mastitis.
- Tumors of the breast: Non-cancerous growths in the breast may cause pain due to compression. The most common non-cancerous growth is fibroadenoma.
- Shingles may cause breast pain before the rash appears.
- Previous breast surgery: This may leave scar tissue that causes persistent pain.
Pain from outside the breast
- Tietz’s syndrome: This causes inflammation of the joints where the ribs meet the breastbone (costochondral junction). Pain is felt deep within the breast.
- Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD): Acid that is regurgitated back into the lower esophagus (food tube) from the stomach can cause pain that may be felt in the breast.
- Arthritis of the spine
- Hiatus hernia
- Nerve entrapment syndromes, such as carpal tunnel or cervical rib, where the nerve is compressed against bone leading to persistent pain.
- Chest infection
Sore breasts in pregnancy
Many women will complain of discomfort in the breasts when they are pregnant. It is possible to start feeling pain, tingling or swelling in the breasts even before you confirm that you are pregnant.
I’m pregnant. Why are my breasts sore?
When you are pregnant, a lot of hormonal changes take place in your body. You produce large amounts of estrogen and progesterone. This is similar to what happens between ovulation and your period. The difference is that in pregnancy the hormone levels are much, much higher. This helps to prepare the body for pregnancy and nursing.
Changes in the breasts during pregnancy
The breasts usually get bigger, increasing by several cup sizes for some women.