Also known as mastalgia and mastodynia, breast pain happens to be a common occurrence. According to the California Pacific Medical Center, between 50 to70 percent of women in the country suffer from breast pain. Breast pain can occur due to numerous reasons. Also, in most cases, breast pain does not indicate breast cancer.
The symptoms of mastalgia and mastodynia include tightness and heaviness in the breast, a dull ache, and breast tenderness. In some cases, the pain can spread to the arms as well. If this pain is linked to the menstrual cycle, it is known as cyclical mastalgia.
Sometimes, women experience breast pain in only on the left side. There are various conditions which can cause this left-sided breast pain. In this article, we will look at some of the significant causes of breast pain in the left side and some treatment methods for it.
Causes of left breast pain in women
- Injury: The skin of the breast is highly elastic and sensitive. It shields the connective tissues, blood vessels, nerves, ducts, and lobes that produce milk. A breast injury can cause damage to these tissues, resulting in a severe ache. Also, sometimes, an injury to the breast heals with scar tissues and may cause pain. These tissues may feel like a lump, making it difficult to distinguish them from breast cancer.
Breast surgery: Any type of breast surgery, regardless of whether it involves reduction, enhancement or reconstruction, will make the breast tender and cause pain. Gradually, as the incision heals, scar tissues will develop. And in the case of scar tissues, the pain can come and go, long after the surgery is complete.
Milk duct infections: Numerous benign yet painful conditions can occur inside your mammary glands. For instance, the milk ducts can get clogged and infected, resulting in a breast infection. Breast cysts or fibroadenomas may develop in the system, causing pain. Also, blisters may occur under the nipple or areola which would lead to a sharp ache. Thus, this could be one of the causes of left breast pain in women.
Hormonal changes: Another significant cause of left breast pain in women is a hormonal change. Hormonal changes during a woman’s menstrual cycle or changes due to the intake of oral contraceptive pills can often cause pain. Undertaking any hormone replacement therapy or infertility treatment can also be a cause. While these changes cause pain in both the breasts, women may feel more pain on one side. Reduced levels of thyroid hormone, also known as hypothyroidism, may lead to benign breast disorders, resulting in breast pain.
Infection or inflammation: Any breast infection or inflammation can cause excruciating pain. Generally, such a case requires taking antibiotics or other prescription medications for effective treatment. So, it is best to visit your doctor for a thorough evaluation.
Lumps: If you observe any lumps in the breast, it is imperative to seek immediate medical help. Your doctor will undertake tests to identify if these lumps are benign or malignant. Consequently, they will suggest the right treatment option.
Some treatment options for reducing pain in the left breast in women
Here are some options to reduce left breast pain in women:
- Wear a well-fitted bra during the day.
- Take over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to help alleviate the pain.
- You can directly apply some topical NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines) such as diclofenac gel or ibuprofen gel to the affected area to relieve pain.
- Reducing or avoiding coffee and caffeine can help in managing breast pain.
- Wearing a good sports bra during exercise can be helpful.
- Avoid smoking if you experience pain in the breast. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels and smoking increases the likelihood of inflammation.
Apart from these, there are a few prescription medications that help in treating the left breast pain in women. However, these medicines are generally prescribed in case none of the other remedies seem to be effective.
These medicines include:
- Danazol: It is used for treating fibrocystic breast disease.
- Tamoxifen: This medicine can help treat the symptoms of breast cancer.
- Goserelin: While it is meant for treating breast cancer, it is also widely used as an off-label treatment for breast pain.
- Toremifene: This is also approved for treating breast pain and inflammation.
When to see a doctor?
Although left breast pain in women does not necessarily indicate breast cancer, it is best to consult a medical professional to get an accurate diagnosis. Also, do not delay in case the breast pain:
- Persists for more than a couple of weeks
- Seems to get worse over time
- Meddles with or affects your everyday activities
In all these cases, your doctor might recommend a thorough evaluation to rule out the chances of breast cancer.