Give advice on women's health concerns.

Pain in One Breast

Pain in One Breast

Many women often complain of pain in one breast and fear the worst, i.e., breast cancer. However, not all breast pain causes indicate cancer, and there can be several reasons for the pain to occur. The following article will help you understand the various possibilities of a sharp breast pain.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Last Updated: Dec 21, 2017
One of the most common problems women face is that of breast pain. One can suffer from mild to severe pain, which can be felt in either one or both the breasts. In the following paragraphs, we shall discuss more about the causes of pain in only one breast.

Classification of Pain in a Single Breast

In breast pain or mastalgia, the woman experiences a chronic tenderness, sharp pain, burning, or tightness in the breast tissues. This pain can be felt constantly or may be felt occasionally. The pain is basically classified into 2 types: cyclic and noncyclic. Let us have a look at both the types in brief.

Cyclic Breast Pain
75% of women suffer from cyclic breast pain. This type of pain is related to the menstrual cycle, hormonal levels, and stress in women. The cyclic pain is generally heavy, aching, or dull in both the breasts.

Noncyclic Breast Pain
The less common type of mastalgia that is not related to the menstrual cycle is the noncyclic pain. Women with this type of pain generally complain of a sharp pain in a single breast. The noncyclic pain is generally burning and sharp.

Probable Causes

➜ Mastalgia in one breast is usually due to trauma or injury to the breast. Women who undergo biopsy of the breast also suffer from a sharp pain in the breast. However, most of the time, the underlying causes of the pain are unknown.

➜ Breast pain during pregnancy is often due to non-lactational mastitis. This is a breast infection that occurs during pregnancy along with fever and flu-like symptoms. Pain in the breast while breastfeeding is due to a plugged milk duct. This causes the milk flow to get blocked within the breast. Till the plug is not loosened, it will continue to pain while nursing the baby.

➜ Other causes include formation of cysts. In this, fluid-filled sacs are formed in the breast tissue, which results in redness, swelling, and breast pain. Noncyclic mastalgia may also occur due to the pain originating outside the breast.

➜ This means that the pain in the chest, muscles, rib joints, and heart may radiate to the breast causing pain in one breast. Many times, women with large breasts also suffer from breast discomfort as well as neck pain, shoulder pain, and/or back pain.


Most of the time, pain in the breast tends to subside on its own. Only 15% of all the cases require a specific treatment. However, it is always better to get yourself examined by a doctor to eliminate any doubts related to tumors or breast cancer. Some of the treatments include use of topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. The doctor may also advice a change in oral contraceptive doses. In case of benign or malignant breast tumor, one may have to undergo mammography or biopsy. Breast infections are usually treated with medications. Sometimes, a change in bra size or wearing a bra with extra support also helps in alleviating the pain.

Women who develop breast pain often fear it to be a sign of breast cancer. However, it has been seen that less than 1 in 10 women with breast cancer develop breast pain as a primary symptom. Mastalgia is indicative of breast cancer if accompanied by other symptoms like abnormal discharge from nipples, lump in the breast, etc. If you are worried about the pain, speak to your doctor for advice. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.