The medical terms defining breast pain symptoms are Mastalgia, Mastodynia and Mammalgia. Breast pain is a common condition in both pre and post menopausal women. Breast pain can be described as a continuous sensitivity or tenderness, sharp burning or tightness of the breast tissue. The pain may be acute or chronic. Severe breast pain may be experienced by women during the periods or throughout the menstrual cycle. The occurrence of breast pain is more common in pre-menopausal young women, though it may also occur in post menopausal women.
Causes of Pain in Left Breast
Pain in and around the left breast may be due to the aforementioned as well as other causes. If you experience consistent pain in either breast and armpit or any other area surrounding the left breast in general, the following could be some of the possible causes:-
FibroadenomaFibroadenomas are small, hard rubbery, non cancerous lumps which are composed of fibrous and glandular tissue. Unlike breast cancer lumps, fibroadenoma lumps can be easily moved and have well-defined outlines. These lumps are often the cause of pain in the breast, whether left or right, which may, sometimes, extend to armpits and an inch towards the back.
Hormonal fluctuations before or during the periods, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can be the reason behind breast tenderness. Also, fibrocystic tissues become softer and more sensitive around this time, leading to tenderness of the breast. Also, non cyclical hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, puberty, breast-feeding and menopause are also prominent tender breast causes.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
The hormonal fluctuations experienced by the body of a person undergoing hormone replacement therapy may contribute towards breast pain and tenderness.
This condition is characterized by blocked and/or infected milk ducts which may have occurred due to breastfeeding, liver damage due to alcoholism or trauma/injury to the breast. Such an abnormality of the milk ducts may cause moderate to severe breast pain in women.
Certain medications such as aldomet, aldactone and other potassium sparing diuretic medicines, anadrol, chlorpromazine and digitalis preparations may induce breast tissue sensitivity.
This condition is mostly seen in small children and is caused due to inflammation of the joint connecting the upper ribs to the cartilage which binds them to the sternum. Costochondritis may cause painful sensations in the left breast but is a treatable and relatively harmless condition.
This is undoubtedly the most dreaded cause of breast pain and possible causes believed to increase the risk of getting breast cancer are alcoholism, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and aversion to breastfeeding.
Causes of Pain Under Left Breast
If the pain is occurring under rather than in the left breast area, the causes could be quite different. Pain under left breast could be the manifestations of non-breast tissue related indications. Let's take a look at these breast pain causes.
Accumulation of too much gas in the gastrointestinal tract can stretch the stomach walls, sometimes pushing it upwards also. This may give a feeling of uneasiness and sharp pain in the left breast, especially in the lower part which is closer to the rib cage.
When your heart doesn't get sufficient oxygen rich blood it has to work harder to pump blood, making it exert more pressure. This is what angina is which manifests as pain under the left breast which may sometimes extend to the left shoulder, arm, neck or back.
A sudden spasm in the muscles around the ribs may induce pain under either breast and these kinds of muscular spasms are usually induced by improper nutrition, dehydration, loss of body salts and electrolytes.
The pleura is the lining of the pleural cavity which encloses the lungs. An inflammation of this lining, known as pleurisy, leads to pain under left breast and can be felt as a sharp breast pain while breathing, sneezing or coughing.
Other Possible Causes
Other probable causes of pain under left breast are ulcers, inflammation of the stomach or esophagus, stress and certain heart related disorders such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Shingles, nerve damage and common cold can also cause burning breast pain to occur in either breast.
Breast pain can be categorized under two broad classifications - cyclical and non cyclical. Cyclical breast pain is that which changes in intensity during menstrual cycle. It generally occurs as a result of fibrocystic breast changes and duct ectasia which are usually caused by deviations in the rhythm of dynamic hormonal changes. On the other hand, non cyclical pain is that which remains more or less the same throughout the menstrual cycle. The causes behind this are usually related to outside factors.
Be alert to any abnormality relating to your breast and chest region. Don't panic if you suddenly experience pain in or around the left breast region. Rather, consult a specialist immediately and get all the prescribed tests done to diagnose the actual cause. As you can see from this article, breast cancer is one of the reasons for breast soreness and not the ONLY reason. Ensure a healthy lifestyle, be aware of your anatomy and alert to any sign of abnormality. Awareness is the first step you take towards nipping ailments in the bud.