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Mastodynia: Causes, symptoms, and treatments

Publisher/Author : Pacific Cross

Mastodynia is a Greek word that actually refers to the breast pain. The tenderness in the breast can be referred to the same problem. Breast pain is itself considered as one of the greatest symptoms that can identify the disease.

The pain in the breast can be mild to severe. It depends upon the condition of the patient and the reason behind the pain. The breast pain can last longer if not treated properly.

How common is Mastodynia?

Mastodynia is quite common in females but males can also have the problem. There are very rare chances that the males having the same kind of the problem. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of Mastodynia?

Breast pain is usually classified as “cyclic” (cyclical) or “non-cyclic” (non-cyclical).

Symptoms of cyclical breast pain:

  • The pain comes cyclically, just like the menstrual cycle.
  • The breasts may become tender.
  • Patients describe the pain like a heavy, dull ache. Some women describe it as a soreness with heaviness, while others say it is like a stabbing or burning pain.
  • The breasts may swell.
  • The breasts may become lumpy (not with a single, hard lump).
  • Both breasts are typically affected, especially the upper, outer portions.
  • The pain can spread to the underarm.
  • Pain becomes more intense a few days before a period begins. In some cases, pain may start a couple of weeks before menstruation.
  • It is more likely to affect younger women. Postmenopausal women may experience similar pains if they are on HRT (hormone replacement therapy).

Symptoms of non-cyclical breast pain:

  • It affects just one breast, usually just within a small section of the breast, but may spread across the chest.
  • It is common among post-menopausal women.
  • The pain does not come and go in a menstrual cycle time-loop.
  • The pain may be continuous or sporadic.
  • Mastitis – if the pain is caused by infection within the breast, the woman may have a fever, feel ill (malaise), some breast swelling and tenderness and the painful area may feel warm. There may be redness. The pain is usually described as a burning sensation. For lactating mothers, the pain is more intense while breastfeeding.
  • Extramammary pain – pain that feels as if the source is within the breast, but it is elsewhere. Sometimes called “referred pain.” This may occur in some chest wall syndromes, such as costochondritis (inflammation where the rib and the cartilage meet).

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes Mastodynia?

There are some major causes of Mastodynia. As the problem is quite common in females, menstruation can be a major cause. Females having pregnancy at the young age may have to face such type of problem. Feeding can trigger the same issue as well. There are some fibrocystic changes that may cause breast tenderness. Females having mastitis also complain about the breast pain and the tenderness. There is a common type of the syndrome called Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), due to this syndrome there may be pain in the breast. Large intake of alcohol can also cause mild pain in the breast.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Mastodynia?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Mastodynia diagnosed?

If a woman is pre-menopausal, the doctor will try to determine whether the breast pain might be cyclical.

The doctor will probably ask:

  • How much caffeine she consumes.
  • Where within the breasts the pain is.
  • Whether both breasts are painful.
  • Whether she is a smoker.
  • Whether she is on any medication or the combined contraceptive pill.
  • Whether she might be pregnant.
  • Whether there are any other symptoms, such as nipple discharge or a lump.

The doctor will listen to the patient’s lungs and heart, and also check her chest and abdomen to rule out other possible conditions and illnesses.

The doctor may also conduct a clinical breast exam to determine whether there are any lumps, changes in nipple appearance, or nipple discharge. The lymph nodes in the lower neck and armpit will also be checked to determine whether they are swollen or tender to the touch.

If a breast lump or unusual thickening of an area of tissue is detected, or a specific area of breast tissue is particularly painful, the doctor may order further tests:

  • Mammogram — an X-ray exam of the breast.
  • Ultrasound scan — sound waves produce images of the breasts. Even if the mammography does not detect anything, an ultrasound scan is usually done as well.
  • Breast biopsy — if anything suspicious is detected, the doctor will surgically remove a small sample of breast tissue and send it to the laboratory for analysis.

The patient may be asked to complete a breast pain chart, which can be used to confirm the diagnosis and help the doctor decide on the best therapy.

How is Mastodynia treated?

In the majority of cases, it is possible to solve cyclical breast pain by taking OTC (over-the-counter) painkillers and wearing well-fitted bras. Cyclical breast pain is often unpredictable — it may well just go away in time, and then come back periodically.

Being diagnosed with cyclical breast pain, as opposed to something more serious, can reassure many patients who then decide their condition is easier to live with.

Women with non-cyclical breast pain may need therapy to treat the underlying cause, for instance, with infectious mastitis, the patient will be prescribed a course of antibiotics.

Some topical NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen gel or diclofenac gel can be rubbed directly on to the painful areas. Do not rub NSAID gels onto broken skin. (“Topical” means you apply it directly onto the skin).

Coffee, caffeine, and breast pain – a study published in The Nurse Practitioner found “caffeine restriction is an effective means of management of breast pain associated with fibrocystic disease.”

Smoking and breast pain – several health authorities, hospitals, and health groups advise women with breast pain to stop smoking. The argument being that nicotine constricts the blood vessels and smoking is more likely to cause inflammation.

However, a study published in Climacteric, the Journal of the International Menopause Society, found “smoking reduces the incidence of breast tenderness in women receiving oral EPT (estrogen-progestogen therapy).”

Prescription medications for breast pain

If breast pain symptoms are severe, and none of the therapies mentioned above helped, the doctor may recommend a prescription drug.

The following medications may help alleviate the symptoms of breast pain:


Approved for the treatment of fibrocystic breast disease, a condition that causes non-cancerous growths to develop in the breasts.


Approved for treating certain breast conditions.


Approved for breast cancer treatment. Tamoxifen is also prescribed off-label for mastalgia.


Also approved for breast cancer therapy and used as an off-label treatment for mastalgia.


Another breast cancer drug that is used off-label for breast pain.

If a woman is on the contraceptive pill, the doctor may consider making adjustments or switching to another birth control pill.

The doctor may also consider adjusting the dosage of hormone replacement therapy.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Mastodynia?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Mastodynia:

  • During the daytime, wear a well-fitting bra.
  • Many women swear by evening primrose oil. A study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, however, found that evening primrose oil offered no benefits for breast pain. Pregnant women, those planning to become pregnant, and people with epilepsy should not take evening primrose oil without checking with their doctor first.
  • To relieve the pain, take OTC medications, such as acetaminophen (paracetamol, Tylenol) or ibuprofen.
  • Wear a soft-support bra during sleep.
  • When exercising, wear a good sports bra.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you. Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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