Common tests to diagnose a breast pain include:
- Breast examination: During a breast examination, the doctor checks for any changes in the breasts and examines the lymph nodes in the lower neck and underarm. The physician also listens to the patient’s heart and lungs, and conducts a thorough examination of the chest and abdomen to rule out any other potential causes for the pain. If the medical history and the breast and physical exam show no abnormal findings, additional tests may not be necessary.
- Mammogram: A mammography is a low-dose X-ray of the breast. This is used to look for any abnormalities if one develops a new symptom, such as a lump, soreness, nipple discharge, or changes in the skin of the breast. This is often requested to analyze the area of concern discovered during the breast exam, such as a lump or atypical thickening in the breast tissue, or a focused area of pain in the breast tissue.
- Ultrasound: In cases where a mammogram shows normal results, further evaluation may be necessary to investigate a specific area of pain. An ultrasound of the breast is a noninvasive procedure commonly used to detect and identify breast lumps and cysts. It is often performed alongside a mammogram, and it utilizes sound waves to generate images of the breast tissue.
- Breast biopsy: A biopsy involves the collection of a small sample of breast tissue from the affected area, which is then sent to a laboratory for further examination. This procedure is typically requested when there are suspicious breast lumps, areas of thickening, or abnormalities observed during imaging scans. The purpose of the biopsy is to obtain a definitive diagnosis and provide more information about the condition.
Managing breast pain can often resolve on its own without any treatment. However, if you need help, your doctor may suggest the following options:
- Eliminate causes or factors that worsen the pain: This could be as simple as wearing a bra with better support.
- Use topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication: When the pain is intense, your doctor may recommend applying an NSAID cream directly to the painful area.
- Adjust birth control pills: If you’re on birth control pills, your doctor might suggest skipping the pill-free week or changing the birth control method to alleviate breast pain. Remember to seek your doctor’s advice before making any changes.
- Reduce menopausal hormone therapy: If you are undergoing menopausal hormone therapy, lowering the dosage or stopping it may help relieve breast pain.
- Consider prescription medication: In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a medication called Danazol, which is approved for treating fibrocystic breasts. However, it carries the risk of severe side effects like heart and liver problems, weight gain, and voice changes. Another option is Tamoxifen, which is primarily used for breast cancer treatment and prevention but may also help with breast pain. It’s essential to weigh the potential side effects before considering this option.