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What are the Most Common Causes of Stabbing Breast Pain?

By K. Gierok
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Some research suggests that up to 70 percent of women may experience stabbing breast pain over the course of their lives. While the causes are often multifocal, they often include changes in hormone levels, a trauma to the breast or chest, or even the addition of a new prescription medication. Women with large breasts also commonly suffer from breast pain. While breast reduction surgery may be an option for some, the many risks associated with the procedure means it is not feasible for all.

One of the most common causes of stabbing breast pain is simply a change in hormone levels. Female hormone levels change almost on a constant basis, both over the course of a menstrual cycle, as well as throughout life in general. Young women may experience extreme stabbing breast pain before or during their periods. In contrast, women who are premenopausal may also develop this condition, though research suggests that it typically decreases in severity after the completion of menopause.

A trauma to the breast is another common cause of stabbing breast pain. A breast trauma can often lead to cyst development, or damage to the muscles that lie under the breasts. An example of the kind of trauma that can lead to the development of these conditions is a hit to the chest or breast, such as in a fall, accident, or other similar activity. Though these instances may seem minor, women who develop stabbing breast pain after experiencing them should consider seeking medical attention as soon as possible.

Certain medications have also been strongly linked to the development of stabbing breast pain. While hormone replacement medications have been commonly linked to the development of this condition, other medications, such as antidepressants, may also lead to breast pain. Those who have just been prescribed one of these medications and develop stabbing breast pain may want to consult with their physician or pharmacist. In many cases, an alternative medication can be prescribed, with minimal side effects.

Breast size is another common cause of stabbing breast pain. Research has found that women with very large breasts are much more prone to the development of breast pain than those with smaller breasts. While breast reduction surgery may be a successful way to treat breast pain in some cases, the risks may rule it out as an option for some women. Those who are not able to undergo breast reduction surgery must often rely on more supportive forms of undergarments. In addition, participating in a strength training routine that focuses on strengthening the back and core may be a viable option for those unable to receive breast reduction surgery.

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Discussion Comments

By Mor — On Jan 05, 2015

@croydon - Chronic pain in any area shouldn't be ignored though. Breast pain in one breast can actually be a sign of a cyst or of cancer, so it's definitely worth checking out. Particularly if there are any other signs of something going wrong, like changes in the shape or size of the breast or discharge from the nipple or anything like that.

If it's happening in both breasts then it might be a hormonal problem, but still worth getting checked out.

By croydon — On Jan 04, 2015

@clintflint - Don't become complacent about chest pain in general though. There are too many reasons for it that could be very serious. There's a reason that doctors will insist you rush to hospital if you have chest pain.

If the pain is quite clearly centered in the breast tissue, then that's something else. But if it seems to be coming from under the breast then it could be a problem with the lungs or heart and shouldn't be ignored.

By clintflint — On Jan 03, 2015

Sometimes I find that what feels like a pain in my breast is actually a muscle pain from my pectorals, which are under the breast tissue. They do sometimes cramp like other muscle do and it can be quite painful, but it's not necessarily serious. It scared me the first couple of times it happened because I thought it might be something else (and breast cancer is one of the first things the mind jumps to) but that kind of breast pain passes quite quickly.

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