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First Aid for Breast Pain

Breast pain refers to any form of discomfort in the underlying tissue, skin or nipple of a woman’s breast. Mild forms of discomfort or pain may be caused by tiny benign tumors, whereas severe breast pain may be a sign for infections such as mastitis or injuries.

A woman with breast pain may feel breast lumps on her breast along with nipple discharge and pain. Treatment often depends on the underlying cause of breast pain. For example, if it is caused due to an infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. General treatment may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication in order to control pain. In case of a breast lump, the woman may be tested for breast cancer through mammograms and breast paina mild surgery may be performed to remove the lump.

Important Disclaimer: this post on breast pain and muscular injuries is for learning purposes only. Contact your doctor if you have any serious or abnormal breast pain or enrol in St Mark James first aid training to learn more about injuries, muscular pain or skeletal injuries.

Causes

Common underlying causes of breast pain may include:

  • Breast contusion
  • Breast abscess
  • Breast fibroadenomas
  • Cellulitis
  • Postpartum (after delivery) breast pain
  • Intraductal papilloma
  • Fibrocystic breast disease
  • Side effects of drugs such as clomid and birth control pills
  • Normal premenstrual breast tenderness – may begin before the onset of the menstrual period
  • Galactocele – a cyst filled with milk formed due to the blocked of the milk duct
  • Puberty
  • Mastitis
  • Paget’s disease of the nipple

Diagnosis

The person may be diagnosed with breast pain after a physical examination and medical history.

A person with breast pain may have:

  • A new breast lump
  • Dimpling in the breast
  • Changes in breast size or shape
  • Nipple discharge from only one breast
  • New lump in the armpit that will remain persistent
  • Orange skin color of the breast
  • Changes in the nipple such as retracted nipple

Tests conducted to diagnose breast pain may include:

  • Breast biopsy
  • Nuclear scanning
  • Breast ultrasound – this may help identify any swelling caused due to cysts
  • Mammography – a special X-Ray used to evaluate breast cancer
  • Enhanced MRI of the person’s breast

Treatment

Treatment options may include:

  • Cold compresses and warm compresses
  • Antibiotics for mastitis
  • Antibiotics for breast abscess
  • Narcotic pain medication for moderate to sever pain – short term use only
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain

Home care

Follow these home care tips if you have breast pain:

  • Apply a cold compress on your breast – use ice wrapped in a moist towel. Avoid applying ice directly to the skin. Continue doing this for about 20-30 minutes. This should be repeated every 1-2 hours
  • Apply a warm compress, in case there is breast pain without injury – do this for 20-30 minutes for every 1-2 hours
  • If you are breast-feeding, continue feeding
  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication to control pain
  • Take acetaminophen for pain
  • Take medication as prescribed and directed by your health care provider. Avoid skipping doses

Warning signs

See your health care provider immediately if any if the following problems occur:

  • Discharge from a single nipple
  • Changes in the breast shape or size
  • Redness of the breast, tenderness and swelling
  • Breast lump
  • Change in skin overlying the breast
  • Worsening pain in the breast

Learn More

To learn more about muscular and skeletal injuries or pains sign up for St Mark James first aid and CPR classes with your local St Mark James chapter.

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