Mastalgia is a disease that is accompanied by constant pain in the mammary glands.

Consider the main causes of this pathology, symptoms, methods of diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Causes of the mastalgia

The disease occurs with frequent neuroses and in girls at pubertal age. Changing the hormonal background and frequent stresses is another cause of severe chest pains that are not of an intermittent nature. Mastalgia can act as a sign of breast cancer and other malignant neoplasms. The use of certain medications also affects the appearance of painful sensations in the chest, which becomes chronic.

The causes of mastalgia, that is, painful sensations in the mammary gland are varied. If it is a cyclic form, then the cause of its appearance lies in the hormonal imbalance. The cause of acyclic pain is not associated with hormonal status, as it appears due to anatomical changes in the mammary gland. It's about traumatizing the chest, various neoplasms or recently transferred operations. Another cause of non-cyclic pain is not associated with the gland itself, that is, discomfort arises from joints, chest walls or muscles.

The reasons can be associated with an imbalance of fatty acids in the tissues of the breast. When the imbalance significantly increases the sensitivity of breast cells to hormones. This explains the analgesic properties of primrose oil, which is often used to treat mastalgia. The composition of the oil is gamma-linolenic acid, which restores the balance of fatty acids and reduces the sensitivity of the gland tissues to hormones.

Cyclic pain can occur due to the use of hormonal drugs for the treatment of infertility or contraceptives. In this case, pain is a side effect of taking progesterone and estrogen. A similar theory explains the fact that some women have pain and postmenopausal period, so they have to take hormones. Taking antidepressants can also provoke mastalgia.

There are the following reasons:

  • Hormonal changes associated with the female cycle.
  • Breast trauma.
  • Pregnancy and lactation.
  • Mastitis, thrombophlebitis, purulent hydradenitis.
  • Stretching of the ligament of the breast.
  • The use of hormonal drugs and antidepressants.
  • Arthritis of the neck and thorax.

If the pain that occurs in one or two mammary glands has a specific cause, it is not differentiated from cancer. But if the cause of pain is not defined, then differential diagnosis is carried out. Since all malignant neoplasms of the breast are accompanied by severe pain in the last stages of development.

Symptoms of the mastalgia

Symptoms of mastalgia are painful sensations of different localization and intensity. Pain can be mild, severe, in one or both mammary glands at the same time. Unpleasant sensations can occur both in one place and throughout the chest. At the initial stages of the disease, small seals are felt, the appearance of which is associated with the phases of the menstrual cycle and causes discomfort. If at this stage, do not pay due attention to painful symptoms, then the densification can be transformed into malignant neoplasms. Clinical signs of a cyst are very similar to mastalgia and mastopathy. In this case, the pains are directly related to the phases of the cycle, affect the hormonal background, cause discharge from the nipples and various gynecological diseases.

Symptoms of mastalgia regularly appear in 70% of women. Most often, the disease occurs in young girls or in the premenopausal period. In rare cases, the disease is diagnosed in postmenopausal women. Every woman at least once in her life, but felt uncomfortable in the chest. But in some cases, the pain takes a long duration of five or more days. Pain can last for the entire menstrual period. Mastalgia does not affect the activity of a woman and her sex life.

Mastalgia of the breast affects many women. Painful sensations can be a sign of cancer or testify to a violation of the hormonal background in the female body. Pain is cyclic, non-cyclic and not associated with the gland.

  • Cyclic

Causes severe pain that occurs due to violations of the menstrual cycle. The disease is accompanied by an increasing and sharply weakening pain. Discomfort occurs in the arms and axillary regions. Often there is a slight tuberosity of the mammary glands, two-sided localization in the upper glandular regions is possible. Pain can occur when taking hormonal drugs.

  • Acyclic

The disease is not associated with the menstrual cycle and most often occurs in women after 40 years. Pain occurs in the middle of the chest and around the nipple, discomfort can be either permanent or periodic. Most often the pain is burning, sharp, cutting and one-sided. Unpleasant sensations can be associated with the presence of benign neoplasms (fibroadenoma) or cystic tumors.

  • Mastitis

The disease is accompanied by painful sensations, fever, chills, general weakness and other symptoms of intoxication. Improper treatment of mastitis leads to the appearance of mastalgia with uncontrollable pain.

  • Mammary cancer

In some cases, the symptoms of breast cancer are mistaken for mastalgia. The woman has painful sensations of different intensity in the upper area of the mammary glands. In this case, correct diagnosis is necessary in order to timely recognize the oncological process and prescribe an effective treatment.

When the first signs of mastalgia of the breast appear, it is necessary to perform self-examination of the breast and seek medical help. If palpation was able to grope seals of different shapes, then this is an occasion to visit a mammologist and gynecologist.

Each woman should regularly examine the mammary glands and undergo preventive examinations at the mammalogist. When there are painful sensations, changes in the shape, size of the gland or skin, the appearance of a feeling of densification, it is necessary to seek medical help. The earlier the disease is diagnosed and the treatment is started, the higher the chances of a full recovery.

Where does it hurt?


Cyclic mastalgia

Cyclic mastalgia is a disease directly related to the menstrual cycle. In some cases, it can act as a symptom of premenstrual syndrome or dysplastic benign change in the gland tissues. Pain sensations occur during certain periods of the menstrual cycle and have a two-sided nature. During pregnancy and menopause, unpleasant symptoms disappear.

Pathology occurs due to violations of hormonal status. Under the action of hormones in the second phase of the cycle, fluid retention in the mammary glands and the body occurs, which provokes pain. The most common cause of the cyclical form is the premenstrual state. During this period, a large number of substances are formed in the body of the woman - mediators, which act on the nerve endings and cause pain in the chest. Long-term use of combined oral contraceptives, preparations with gestagens and estragones is another factor that causes the disease.

Characteristic features of cyclic mastalgia:

  • Painful sensations are bursting, causing puffiness and chest enlargement.
  • The pain has a certain localization in the outer and upper parts of the chest or a total character, girdling the entire gland.
  • Most often, this pathology affects women of childbearing age.
  • Constant discomfort and pain leads to an oppressed psychoemotional state, depression and neuroses.

Acyclic mastalgia

Acyclic mastalgia is a pathology that can be associated with various diseases of the mammary glands (inflammation, mastopathy, cysts, malformations and anatomical features, malignant neoplasms). As a rule, acyclic pains are of a one-sided permanent nature. The degree of discomfort directly depends on the nature of the pathology. So, with volumetric lesions of glands, for a long time the pain has minimal intensity. But with the formation of an abscess, acute, throbbing and sharp pains appear. Painful sensations can radiate into the axillary cavities, and arise in the entire gland.

In addition to discomfort and unpleasant sensations, the disease is accompanied by swelling and knots that can be palpated. Over the area of pain, the color and texture of the skin can change. Changes can affect the structure and shape of the nipple. Acyclic mastalgia most often occurs in women after 40 years. The disease is not associated with the menstrual cycle. The appearance of sharp localized pain can be a symptom of benign formations, cysts or fibroaden. If the pain is accompanied by swelling and redness of the skin, then this is a sign of infection of the breast. In this case, a woman often rises body temperature, there are headaches and a feeling of general weakness.

Since acyclic pain is equally associated with various diseases of the mammary glands, it is necessary to immediately contact a mammologist. The doctor will collect anamnesis and conduct a series of studies that will help establish the true cause of painful sensations. Consider the main diseases that can hide under the symptoms of non-cyclic mastalgia:

  • Mammary cancer.
  • Reactive sclerosis of connective breast tissue.
  • Adenoma, fibroadenoma, liposclerosis.
  • Sclerosing adenosis.
  • Thetz syndrome.

Diagnostics of the mastalgia

Diagnosis of mastalgia is a complex of various techniques that allow to establish the true cause of painful sensations. When there is a side symptomatology, a woman should perform self-examination and palpation of the breast. To do this, you need to stand in front of the mirror, examine the glands from the sides and in front in four projections: arms above, lowered, hips, body tilted forward. Palpation should be performed in the supine position, laying one arm behind the head. Palpating the chest, you need to gradually move from the periphery and the side to the nipple. Pay special attention to the pacifier, press it down and make sure there are no pathological discharge. Also, do not forget to examine and feel the area of the armpits.

If in the process of self-examination, you find a discharge from the nipple or its retraction into the chest, tissue tightening, redness, change in shape, size or the appearance of asymmetry of the breast, then it is an occasion to immediately consult a doctor. In addition to self-examination, it is recommended to record the frequency and nature of painful sensations. This will help the doctor diagnose the type of mastalgia, determine the cause of her appearance and make a treatment plan.

Some women who suffer from mastalgia can diagnose cancer. That is why the process of examining the mammary glands and differential diagnosis is very important. Let's consider modern diagnostic methods used for examination of the mammary gland with suspicions of mastalgia:

  • Ultrasound is the simplest and safest method, it can be done during pregnancy and lactation. It allows to reveal fibro-cystic neoplasms and other tumor states. If used for differential diagnosis, then additional methods are required.
  • Mammography and X-ray methods - with their help you can find pathological changes in breast tissue. As a rule, they are used for examination of patients older than 40 years. It is not used to diagnose young girls and women, since they affect reproductive function.
  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy - is performed during ultrasound for differential diagnosis of tumor neoplasms. As a result of puncture, tissues are sent from the gland and sent to a cytological study.
  • Electroimpedance mammography is a highly informative method that allows you to visually examine the condition of the gland tissues. This method is less common than ultrasound or mammography.
  • Microwave radiothermometry is a temperature method for detecting abnormalities characteristic of oncological processes. Diagnosis is carried out in specialized institutions and only according to the doctor's prescription.
  • Analysis of the production of sex hormones - allows you to accurately determine the phase of the menstrual cycle and the level of hormones. Since hormonal imbalance is the main cause of chest pain.

Regardless of the chosen methods of diagnosing mastalgia, it is very important to establish the real cause of the pain and start treatment of the disease.

What do need to examine?

Who to contact?

Treatment of the mastalgia

Treatment of mastalgia completely depends on the results of diagnosis, the type of disease (cyclic, acyclic), the age of the patient and other characteristics of the body. Reduce the pain can be with medications that are dispensed without a doctor's prescription. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are another way to eliminate pathology. To this category of drugs are: Naproxen, Ibuprofen and Aspirin. Oral contraceptives can be used to treat mastalgia, but more often it is the plug-in action of such drugs that cause pain in the mammary gland.

Reduce discomfort with magnesium preparations. Magnesium is recommended to be taken 14 days before the start of the menstrual cycle. This will reduce the inflammatory process and pain. Another therapeutic method is dietary nutrition. Reducing fat intake by 15-20% is a proven method.

Consider the drugs prescribed for patients with mastalgia:

  • Bromocriptine

A hormonal drug used in gynecology to inhibit the secretion of prolactin and stimulate dopamine receptors. The drug is used in neurology and endocrinology. Very often, this remedy is prescribed to patients after abortion, since active substances inhibit the production of maternal milk, prevent its isolation, restore the menstrual cycle and ovulate. Bromocriptine is an excellent prophylaxis of tumor lesions of the mammary glands, it prevents cystic neoplasms, relieves pain syndrome, normalizes the balance of estrogen and progesterone.

In the first days of drug use, side effects are possible: nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, general weakness and headache. In rare cases, the drug causes orthostatic hypotension. If the dosage is not observed, drowsiness, hallucinations, visual disturbances, confusion occur. The drug is contraindicated to use with increased sensitivity to its components, as well as during lactation, with arterial hypertension, tremor.

  • Prozestin-KR

Hormonal antitumor agent. The main indications for the use of the drug: mastalgia, mastodynia, benign mastopathy on the background of progesterone insufficiency. The medicine is released in the form of a gel for external use. The gel is evenly applied to the mammary glands, rubbing it until it is completely absorbed. The course of treatment should not exceed 30 days. Prozestin-KR is contraindicated to use with hypersensitivity to its components.

Any medications for treating mastalgia can only be used as directed by a doctor. Particular attention to pain in the chest should be given to pregnant women and women after 40 years. If you experience discomfort and unpleasant symptoms, you should immediately contact a mammologist. The doctor will diagnose and prescribe an effective remedy for the treatment of mastalgia.

Treatment of mastalgia with alternative means

Treatment of mastalgia with alternative agents is popular in patients of all ages. The advantage of this treatment is that a woman does not have to take medications that have side effects on the body. All therapy is carried out by medicinal plant components.

At the initial stages of the disease, when the pain is temporary, doctors do not recommend the use of medications, since mastalgia is well treated with alternative means. Consider several alternative recipes for chest pain:

  • The best alternative remedy for pain in the chest is a vegetable compress. Grind or grate beetroot, mix it with honey and evenly spread on slightly chopped cabbage leaf (to let the cabbage let the juice). This compress should be applied to the chest and wrapped with a tissue for the night. Of course, the compress is not very convenient to use, but it effectively eliminates the symptoms of mastalgia and resolves small seals and nodules.
  • Juice made from fresh burdock leaves is an excellent tool for treating mastalgia. A similar recipe is best used in the warm season, when the burdock throws out the leaves. The plant should be finely chopped, chopped in a blender, filtered and taken inside until the pain disappears completely.
  • Black elder, ground with sugar or mixed with honey, will effectively relieve pain in the chest of any intensity. The medicine should be taken on a teaspoon 3-4 times a day for 30-40 minutes before a meal.


Prevention of mastalgia is quite simple and accessible to all women. A healthy lifestyle, proper nutrition, regular exercise, a healthy sleep and a minimum of stress is the best prevention of not only painful sensations in the chest, but also other diseases of the mammary glands and the body as a whole. The best way to protect yourself from painful sensations is to avoid traumatizing your breasts. If you are involved in sports, wear a sports top and do not forget to perform self-examination and palpation of the glands for the timely detection of pathologies.

Let's consider some general recommendations which will allow to eliminate painful syndrome at mastalgia.

  • First of all, it is necessary to revise your diet, restrict consumption of fats, salt, smoked products, sweet and caffeine. Food should be nutritious and healthy for the body. The diet should include foods rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, zinc, iodine, magnesium. It is necessary to minimize the use of salt. The salt keeps the water in the body, which leads to swelling of the body and mammary glands.
  • In addition to nutrition, changes must also affect the way of life. One of the important factors affecting the appearance of mastalgia is overweight. Adipose tissue in women works as an endocrine gland, that is, it produces and accumulates estrogen, which leads to swelling and soreness of the breasts. Normal weight is the guarantee of a healthy female body.
  • Active lifestyle and exercise are therapeutic for mastalgia. Regular sports activities that do not increase the symptoms of mastalgia (running, jumping), improve blood circulation and eliminate pain manifestations of the disease.
  • Pay special attention to the liver. At first glance it may seem that the liver and mammary glands are not connected, but it is not. Many problems of mammary glands are associated with poor performance of this body. To stimulate the liver, you can use a folk method: mix the roots of dandelion, burdock, sorrel and mahonia in equal parts, add a little bit of citrus peel and pour boiling water. Drink should be infused for 15 minutes, after which it must be filtered and take three glasses a day.
  • If all the above methods did not help to eliminate the painful symptoms of mastalgia, pay attention to your underwear, namely the bra. Wear underwear that will not squeeze the chest and prevent it from hanging. It is best to choose sports models of bras with wide elastic straps on the back

The pain in the mammary gland always requires determining the cause of its appearance, especially if it is acyclic pain that never arises simply. The older the woman, the more fears should cause any painful sensation of the mammary glands. Observance of all preventive measures and regular examinations at the mammalogist is the best way to protect yourself from mastalgia and other pathological diseases of the breast.


The prognosis of mastalgia is usually favorable. But if a woman has an acyclic form of pathology, this can lead to malignization of the process. That is, the cells of the gland undergo pathological changes that can lead to the formation of various tumor neoplasms and their malignancy.

Mastalgia of the breast is a disease that causes painful sensations, swelling and redness of the chest. Regular preventive examinations, a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition, will prevent the development of pain in the mammary glands and relieve the discomfort and pain, keep the female breast healthy and beautiful.

Last reviewed by: Aleksey Portnov , medical expert, on 01.06.2018
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