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Benign Conditions of the Breast
Breast Pain (Mastalgia)

Many women experience breast pain, making it the most common breast related concern. Breast pain may be felt in one or both breasts, or in the underarm area. Breast pain is not normally associated with breast cancer, but may indicate that some fibrocystic changes are occurring. Women who have breast pain should consult with their doctors.

Breast pain can be cyclical or noncyclical. Cyclical breast pain results from the monthly changes in progesterone and estrogen levels. These changes in hormone levels may cause the breast tissue to swell and retain fluid. During this time, breasts may feel painful and tender. Women with cyclical breast pain may also have some fibrocystic changes that are accompanied by lumps or areas that feel thick. Cyclical breast pain usually begins a few days before menstruation and diminishes when menstruation ends.

Noncyclical breast pain is most often felt in one specific area of a breast. This pain may result from a direct injury to the breast. Women who have had a biopsy of the breast tissue may also feel some pain at the biopsy site. Muscle soreness from physical activity can also increase breast pain, as can poorly fitting bras.

Once it has been determined that the breast pain is not caused by another breast condition or abnormality, you may wish to explore ways to reduce your discomfort. The following suggestions may be helpful in reducing breast pain:

• Vitamin E has been shown to relieve breast pain in many women. The dose is 800 to 1,000 International Units daily. This works as an antioxidant and can potentially relieve inflammation as the cause of breast pain.

• Evening Primrose Oil may be taken at a dose of two to three grams per day. This helps rebalance saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in the breast tissue, relieving hormonal sensitivity in the tissue. Although not a perfect remedy, this appears to be the most likely way to relieve breast pain for many women. Relief may be experienced in 10 to 14 days, but can take 4 to 6 weeks.

• Dietary changes may also provide some relief. Avoiding caffeine may relieve some women of breast pain but this appears to be a small percentage. Some women retain water with excessive salt intake; therefore salt usage should be limited. A high fat diet may cause breast pain in some women; again this is a minority.

• Maintain an ideal weight for your age and height.

• Some medications may produce breast pain. Please discuss your medications with your physician.

These remedies may not make you feel better in a matter of days. Do not get frustrated and quit. If your pain is not relieved by these measures after 2 or 3 months, then please call the office for a re-evaluation.

It is important for every woman to do careful breast self-examinations. If you are menstruating regularly, this should be done about 5 to 7 days after the start of your period, when your breasts are least full and painful. If you are not menstruating on a regular basis, do the examination on a regular date every month.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please call us at 847-797-9000.

 
 
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