Breast Pain – Should I Be Concerned?

Breast pain generally falls into three categories:

1. DIETARY

Often women don’t get enough vitamin E or an essential fatty acid called linoleic acid. Deficiencies of these can cause breast pain. Conversely, an excess of caffeine can cause breast pain in some women. Therefore we recommend:

  • Vitamin E [500 units / day]
  • Oil of Evening Primrose [1 pill daily and can be found in health food stores]
  • Decrease or eliminate caffeine and chocolate.

2. HORMONAL VARIATIONS

Women often have breast pain as their hormones begin to surge prior to their menstrual period. Controlling these hormonal swings is somewhat difficult. Occasionally, the pain is so intense that we might have to place patients on a low dose of birth control pills. Postmenopausal women on estrogen replacement therapy may need to lower their dose or stop it entirely if their pain is severe. In addition a small amount of estrogen is made in the fatty tissue of everyone’s body and weight loss often decreases the amount of this estrogen which in turn may decrease breast pain. Rarely, in severe cases caused by excess hormones, Danazol may be considered to lower the hormone levels.

3. STRUCTURAL

The breast is held onto the chest wall by Cooper’s ligaments within the breast. Stretching of these ligaments can cause breast pain. Therefore, a firm supportive well fitting bra is critical to some women to relieve their breast pain.

In addition to the above recommendations, Tylenol and Advil will suffice for most patients’ pain management.

Patients with focal or persistent pain should be evaluated with a comprehensive breast exam, mammography, and focal ultrasound.


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