6 main causes and solutions

When you feel heaviness and pain in the breast, the woman may fear that there is a serious underlying cause. However, breast tenderness has a variety of causes, most of which are nothing to worry about. Many different conditions can cause breast pain. Hormonal changes, breast infections, and pregnancy may play a role.

In this article, we will discuss the possible causes of heaviness and sore breasts, as well as ways to relieve pain.

1. Mastalgia

Breast pain is a possible cause of breast tenderness and sores. There are two types of breast pain. The first is cyclical breast pain, which is usually caused by menstrual periods. The second is non-cyclical breast pain, which can originate either in the breast or in the muscles and joints surrounding it. Cyclical breast pain usually occurs around the time of ovulation and continues until the start of your period. The pain can occur in only one breast or both, and it can range from mild to severe. Pain can also appear in the armpit.

Noncyclical breast pain does not vary with a person’s menstrual cycle. The pain usually occurs in one place and does not go away. Trauma, a blow to the chest, and arthritis pain can cause acyclic pain.

treatment or treatment

Warm compresses and pain medications, such as ibuprofen, can help relieve periodic breast pain.

Other ways to relieve cyclical breast pain may include the following

– Reducing caffeine consumption
Increase your vitamin E consumption
– Follow a low-fat diet

2. Pregnancy

The breasts can feel sore or heaviness during pregnancy, including during the first trimester. Progesterone can cause breast tenderness. This hormone contributes to the maintenance of pregnancy, and also increases in the second half of the menstrual cycle. As pregnancy progresses, the breasts enlarge. This growth can cause pain if the bra is too tight. It can also make the breasts heavier and cause pain in the shoulders and back.

When the breast begins to produce milk, it can cause an unusual sensation in the breast or a feeling of fullness or heaviness. Sometimes it can cause pain.

treatment or treatment

A proper maternity bra can help reduce any pain you may be experiencing. According to a 2016 systematic review, women can also try intermittently applying cold and hot compresses to painful areas for 20 minutes twice daily to reduce pain. The pain is usually not severe enough to require treatment.

3. Breastfeeding

After delivery, breastfeeding can be painful and the breasts may be heavy. A nursing woman and an infant need to get used to the flow of milk production and a new routine. After the first 48 hours, engorgement may occur, that is, the breasts become heavy and full of milk. Breasts can appear large while being full, heavy, and very sensitive.

treatment or treatment

Women can relieve these symptoms:

Breastfeeding or expressing milk at least every two hours
Gently massage the breasts
Use warm compresses before feeding, such as hot towels
Squeeze a little milk to soften the area around the nipples and encourage the baby to stick to the breast
Use cold compresses, such as a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel, after breastfeeding

Another way is to put cabbage leaves on the breasts. This can help cool the breast and provide relief. In a 2015 clinical trial, participants who used a cabbage compress had significantly lower breast firmness compared to those who did not receive this treatment. Women should not use cabbage for more than 24 hours. The congestion goes away in about 48 hours, although a person may still have mild congestion if the baby is slow to feed.

4. Infections

Breast infections can cause breast pain. Two of the most common types of infections are:

– mastitis

Mastitis can occur after a prolonged period of engorgement or when the milk ducts become clogged.

Symptoms may include:

A warm or swollen area on the breast
Yellow discharge from the nipple

treatment or treatment

A doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Warm compresses may also be helpful. Women with mastitis and antibiotics can continue to breastfeed safely.

– thrush or yeast infection

Yeast infection is a type of fungal infection. Symptoms may be as follows

sore nipples
Pink, scaly, shiny, cracked and itchy nipples
– Chest inflammation
White spots on the infant’s tongue, gums, or cheeks.

A nursing woman may feel a burning, stabbing pain in the breast after feeding.

treatment or treatment

Thrush can be treated with medications, including

Anti-fungal ointment
nystatin oral suspension for infants

5. Breast fibrous cyst

Fibrocystic breast disease causes harmless lumps in the breast. The breast may feel heavy or full. Fibrosis occurs when there is a thickening of the breast tissue. It can cause nipple discharge and breast pain.

treatment or treatment

Fibrocystic breasts can be treated and symptoms relieved by:

Using hot or cold compresses
– Wear a comfortable bra
Avoid salt, caffeine, and fats
Taking oral contraceptives
Take non-prescription painkillers.
If the cyst is bothersome, the doctor can drain fluid into it.

6. Cancer

Most breast cancers do not cause pain. However, if a woman has breast pain that does not go away, she should see a doctor to rule out cancer.

Other symptoms as below

Bloody nipple discharge
Changes in the skin around the nipple or the nipple turning inward
Hot or itchy breasts, although this may be mastitis
Thickened skin or skin that resembles an orange peel
Swelling or bumps around the collarbone and armpits
A lump in the breast, which is usually firm and painless.

treatment or treatment

Treatment usually consists of

Removing the entire tumor, which may lead to a mastectomy
Chemotherapy that can shrink the tumor
Radiation therapy that kills cancer cells.

When do you consult a doctor?

Most cases of breast pain go away on their own. A woman does not need to see a doctor if the pain goes away and does not return, or if she suffers from periodic breast pain that is unbearable.

However, a person should see a doctor if:

Signs of infection while breastfeeding, especially if she has a fever or is not feeling well
Severe breast pain during or after breastfeeding
A lump in the breast, especially a solid tumor that does not go away after menstruation
– Discharge from the nipple
Any breast pain that is severe or unbearable.

Tracking breast pain over time can help your doctor make the correct diagnosis. It is important to tell the doctor if the pain gets worse or if it begins after an injury.


Benign breast problems and conditions. (2017).

Breast cancer: an overview. (2017).

Breast pain (breast pain). (second abbreviation).

Lim, R, et al. (2015). Cabbage compress for early breast care in breast engorgement in virgin women after cesarean delivery: a controlled clinical trial.

Malherbe, K.; , and Fatima, S. (2019). Fibrocystic breast disease.

Mangesi, L., & Zakarija-Grkovic, I. (2016). Breast engorgement while breastfeeding.

* Presse Santé strives to impart medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In no way can the information provided replace medical advice.

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