Simple home remedies for breast pain include cold and warm compress, evening primrose oil, chasteberry, soy products among others.
Breast pain which is medically referred to as mastalgia is a common breast symptom experienced by women of reproductive age. In general practice, painful breast is one of the most frequent reason why women seek consultation.
We all know that when we have pain, it means something is not right. Also, because of the increasing public awareness on breast cancer and the possibility that breast pain might indicate a disease, a lot of ladies now seek advice on mastalgia (breast pain).
In most cases, breast pain signals a noncancerous (benign) breast condition and rarely indicates breast cancer. However, there are alert signs and symptoms which may indicate a more serious underlying condition. Visit the doctor immediately if you are experiencing breast pain and any of these symptoms.
Red Flag Symptoms
- Breast lump
- Nipple eczema or retraction
- Skin distortion
- Shortness of breath
- Pain on exertion
- Persisting, intense unilateral pain
Categories of Breast Pain
Breast pain may be broadly divided into three (3) categories
- Non cyclic
- Extra mammary mastalgia
N:B- Some classification only regard 2 categories of mastalgia which are cyclic and non cyclic. Extra mammary mastalgia is regarded as part of non cyclic mastalgia
Generally, about 67% of mastalgia are cyclic, 25% are non-cyclic and the rest (8 %) are due to non-mammary causes of which the commonest is costochondritis
Inaddition, cyclic breast pain responds to treatment more when compared with non cyclic breast pain..
Cyclic breast pain means the intensity of the breast pain varies with menstrual cycle. Which means that the pain is most severe in the premenstrual period and the pain disappears when the menses start.
Other characteristics of cyclic breast pain include;
It sometimes come with swelling of the breast, it affects the two breast especially the upper outer part and often moves towards the underarm. Cyclic mastalgia majorly affects ladies in their 20s and 30s. The pains are often described as dull, heavy or aching and about 22% of cyclic breast pain resolve themselves without outside assistance.
Non cyclical Mastalgia
Non cylic breast pain on the other hand means the breast pain occurs irrespective of menstrual cycle.
Non cyclic mastalgia is either constant or intermittent, it doesn’t often come with breast swelling and only one of the breast is usually affected starting from a particular point and may sometimes spread to other area of the breast. Non cyclic mastalgia majorly affects women after menopause. The pains are described as tight, sore or burning and about 50% of non cyclic breast pain resolve themselves without outside assistance.
Extra mammary Mastalgia
Extra mammary mastalgia means pain from outside the mammary gland (breast). The causes of breast pain arising from outside the breast are many but the most common are inflammation of costochondritis and other chest wall syndromes. Extra mammary mastalgia tends to disappear with adequate rest and use of pain relievers.
Breast Pain Causes
Recognizing the exact cause of pain in the breast might sometimes be impossible, the following factors may however contribute to it.
The fact that the intensity of cyclic breast pain varies with menstrual cycle is a strong indication that it is affected by reproductive hormones as it also dissipates when you are pregnant or when menopause starts..
Various hormonal situations such as oestrogen excess, progesterone deficiency, changes in progestin/oestrogen ratio, differences in receptor sensitivity, disparate secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), low androgen levels, and high prolactin levels are possible causes of mastalgia.
Structure of the Breast
Noncyclic breast pain sometimes occur as a result of changes in the milk ducts or milk glands. This changes can cause breast cyst to develop.
Breast trauma, prior breast surgery or other factors localized to the breast can lead to painful breast
Saturated fats and fatty acid imbalance are probable cause that may affect breast tissue sensitivity and causing breast tenderness
There might still be pains even after surgical incisions have healed
Certain drugs such as methylxanthines, oral birth control pills and certain antidepressants may be associated with breast soreness.
Home Remedies for Mastalgia
Warm or Cold Compress to Relieve Breast Pain
It often provides relief for breast pain. The swelling and breast tenderness is reduced by either of the compress.
Direction for use
- Prepare cold compress by making an ice pack by wrapping ice in a small towel or cloth, or by filling a plastic bag with ice cubes
- Prepare warm compress by placing a washcloth into a bowl and pouring boiling water over the washcloth. After which you use tongs to insert the hot washcloth into the plastic bag
- You can apply either of the packs on each breast for about 10mins or you can alternate both compress on each breast.
- Repeat few times daily
A recent study showed that breast massage is effective in alleviating breast pain, breast engorgement etc. Breast massage is also effective in improving general blood flow and nutrients to the breast promoting healthy breast tissue.
You can massage your breast while bathing by soaping your breast for a smooth massage. Another option is to mix few drops of camphor oil with 2 spoons of olive oil and massage the breast with it twice daily.
Oil of Evening Primrose
Evening primrose oil whose active ingredient is gamma-linolenic acid is very effective in the treatment of painful breast
The oil of evening primrose can be applied externally on the breast through massage or a daily dose of the standardized extract 360 mg to 480 mg orally
Oil of evening primrose should not be taken if you are trying to be pregnant or epileptic
Vitex (Chasteberry) to Reduce Mastalgia
This is a special kind of herb which has found its use in the treatment of various symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and cyclical mastalgia.
It contains various phytochemicals such as Iridoid glycosides, Alkaloids, Flavonoids, Diterpenes, Essential oils and essential fatty acids. Its effectives is believed to be derived from the actions of these aforementioned phytochemicals on steroidal hormones, pituitary gland and the central nervous system.
Usually, 20 mg of chasteberry fruit extract is recommended to be taken 1 – 3 times daily. Other recommended dosages are 40 drops every morning for the liquid extract of the herb and 35 – 45 drops three times daily for the tincture
Soy products in the form of soy milk, soybeans or soy burgers is beneficial for breast health. These are rich source of isoflavone compounds that reduces breast tenderness. More intake of soy products is often recommended for ladies suffering from breast tenderness.
Castor Oil for Breast Pain
Castor oil has a lot of benefits because it contains ricinoleic acid or methyl ricinoleate, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that immensely help to relieve painful breast . Castor oil also promotes blood circulation, so that nutrients reach the breast tissues.
Directions for use
Mix 1 part of castor oil with 2 parts of olive oil and massage gently all over your breasts. Following this procedure before your period may help get rid of cyclical breast pain.
Chilled Cabbage Leaves
Get the leaves from raw cabbage and refrigerate for a while. Apply the chilled cabbage leaves as cold compress over the swollen or painful breasts. These cold cabbage leaves have the ability to help you get rid of the pain caused due to swollen breasts.
When breast pain is as a result of stress, Inhaling lavender oil might be therapeutic. It capable of calming the nerves and relieve much of mental stress when inhaled. The essential oils in lavender are quite beneficial.
Fennel for Mastalgia
Fennel is beneficial in relieving cyclical breast pain, breast tenderness and other symptoms that accompanies premenstrual syndrome. It balances the female hormones and discourages toxin build up.
Fennel seeds can be brewed in a cup of hot water to make tea and you can also chew some roasted fennel seed.
Vitamins and Minerals
Food rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C and more importantly Vitamin E coupled with Minerals such as selenium, magnesium and calcium are great in reducing breast tenderness and cyclical mastalgia.
Other Selfcare Remedies for Breast Tenderness
- Wear a firm support bra, especially the one recommended by a professional
- During exercise, endeavour to wear sports bra especially when your breasts might feel tender
- Engage in relaxation therapy, which can help control the high levels of anxiety associated with severe breast pain.
- Minor changes in diet such as eliminating or limiting caffeine might be helpful in treatment of breast soreness. Low-fat diet and eating more of complex carbohydrates might also help alleviate breast pain
- Weight loss can also be beneficial in releiving pain in the breast
- Over-the-counter pain reliever may help reduce breast pain but long-term use may increase your risk of liver problems and other side effects. Consult your doctor