Breast Tenderness Causes Symptom

Breast Tenderness: Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Breast tenderness is a cause of concern for many women. But, unlike popular belief, the tenderness in your breast does not mean the presence of cancer. Though breast cancer can cause tenderness in the region, you may not suffer from the problem. Several issues, big and small can result in the soreness of your breast. Read ahead to know more about it in detail and take necessary action.

Symptoms Of Breast Tenderness

The soreness of the breast is most common among women. But, it can affect anyone with breast tissue. In addition to the tenderness, you can also experience other signs associated with the problem:

  • Aching of the breast
  • The feeling of fullness in the chest region
  • Throbbing
  • High Sensitivity

When you experience pain or tenderness in the breast, it makes you highly concerned. But, you never have to worry. In most cases, the simple underlying cause can result in tenderness.

Causes Of Breast Tenderness

The tenderness of your perfectly healthy breast can occur due to many reasons. Know the different reasons triggering the symptoms and how you can find relief.

Wrong Bra Size

The ill-fitting bra is one of the most common causes of breast tenderness. Though it may seem like a simple issue, it has huge implications for your health. A good bra provides good support to the heavy fatty tissue present in the woman’s breasts. When women use too old, too big or too stretched out bras, it fails to offer the necessary support to the breasts. So, the breasts jostle around all day. It can lead to soreness in the breast, back, neck, and shoulders.

Causes Of Breast Tenderness

But, wearing a bra of a smaller size can also cause problems. The too-tight bra offers no support and only adds pressure to the breast. So, it can lead to sensitive breasts. Wearing the wrong bra size can cause tenderness in women with larger breasts. You need to take action to select a bra of the right size to avoid the issue.

Solution To Breast Tenderness Due To Wrong Bra Size

Solution To Breast Tenderness Due To Wrong Bra Size

You can get professional assistance to select the correct bra size. You can seek the help of professionals in a lingerie shop or departmental store to make the right choice. The correct bra must have the following features:

  • Your breasts must never spill out over the top of your bra
  • The back strap should not dig into your skin
  • You need to wear the everyday bra on the middle buckle (not the tightest or loosest buckle)
  • The bra should not ride up in the back
  • No gap must exist between the breast and cup

Wearing a bra of the correct size will help you overcome the tenderness without any other medical intervention.

Muscle Strain

You can experience muscle strain due to strain in the pectoral muscles that lie beneath and around the breast region. Muscle strain can trigger pain. You can feel the pain radiating from inside your breast. The pain is usually limited to one breast. If you suffer from muscle strain, then you can experience the following signs:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty moving the shoulder or arm

The issue is common among those who participate in athletic activities like weightlifting. But, it can also affect women who perform household activities like shoveling, raking or even lifting a baby.

Treatment For Pectoral Muscle Strains

It is easy to treat breast tenderness caused due to muscle strain at home. You can follow the steps suggested below:

  • Use over-the-counter pain medication to treat pain and inflammation. Medications like ibuprofen and naproxen can manage the problem.
  • Rest is important to heal muscle strain. You need to refrain from lifting weights and doing upper body exercises till the muscle strain heals.
  • Doing stretching can heal muscle strain. You can do yoga and Pilates by looking at YouTube videos.
  • You can ease pain by placing heating pads.


You can bump or bruise your chest when you perform some heavy-duty work or get squished or jostled. It can happen to anyone and is not a serious problem. The problem is minor and will fade without any specific medical treatment within a few days.

Treatment For Bumps/Bruises

You can try the following remedies to ease the symptoms associated with the problem:

  • NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can reduce pain and swelling associated with the problem.
  • You can apply heat or ice therapy to relieve the pain.
  • Use soft and supportive bras to provide more comfort to the breasts. Opt for bras with no underwire for maximum coziness.


Women in their reproductive age can experience pain in the breast due to hormonal changes during their monthly cycle. The pain is known as cyclical breast pain. It is directly linked to the menstrual cycle. It occurs due to the fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone throughout the month. The fluctuations can create havoc in your body as well as the brain. Hormones like estrogen and progesterone can increase the milk glands and ducts in your breast. So, the milk gland and ducts can retain water and swell. So, a few days before you get your periods, you can see the following signs:

  • Pain around the breast
  • Tenderness in the upper chest and outer sides of the breast
  • Swelling/lumpiness of breasts
  • Breast sensitivity

The symptoms can go away after your period ends. So, the condition may not cause you any other complications.

Treatment For Cyclic Breast Tenderness

You need only lifestyle and home remedies to manage the tenderness. The steps to ease your symptoms are:

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers. It also reduces the swelling associated with the condition.
  • You can apply ice or heat therapy to relieve the discomfort due to the problem.
  • Avoid caffeine products. Excess caffeine can make the symptoms worse and increase the discomfort.
  • You have period underwear in the market. Similarly, you can wear a period bra. A supportive bra with no underwear offers you comfort. It does not squish your swollen breasts and reduces the tenderness.
  • Excess intake of salt can lead to water retention and increase the swelling in your breasts. The swelling makes your breasts tender and sensitive. So, reduce swelling by reducing the salt intake.
  • Stress can only make the tenderness worse. So, you need to practice mindfulness by trying relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga.
  • Make sure to get a good night’s sleep to get rest.

In some women, home remedies may not show effectiveness. In such cases, you need to see a doctor to get treatment. The doctor can suggest hormonal birth control tablets. These tablets stop ovulation and the symptoms associated with it.



Breast tenderness is one of the early signs of pregnancy. When you become pregnant, your body goes through a lot of hormonal changes. The hormone fluctuations help your body get accustomed to the transformations during your pregnancy. The changes are essential for the body to sustain the pregnancy. If you are pregnant, then you can experience other signs like:

  • Missed periods
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Nausea with/without vomiting
  • Increased urge to pee
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Changes in your food taste or preferences

Treatment For Breast Tenderness During Pregnancy

You need to talk to a gynecologist about the discomfort you suffer during pregnancy. You can get relief with the following tips:

  • Apply heat pad to reduce swelling and tenderness
  • Keep your hand off the breasts
  • You need to get a new bra to make your growing breasts comfortable
  • Use breast pads inside the bra to avoid nipple chafing
  • Wear a sports bra or a maternity bra to sleep more comfortably


A new mother suffers from breast tenderness due to sore nipples. An improper latch can trigger discomfort and pain. It can lead to dryness and cracking of the nipples. The extremely uncomfortable condition needs medical attention. You need to consult a lactation consultant to get remedies for your raw and sore nipples. Without management, the condition can worsen. You will find it difficult to breastfeed your child. You can face the following problems due to dry and sore nipples

Lactation mastitis

Lactation mastitis

The condition can result in flu-like symptoms, pain, and redness in the nipple region.


When you have an oversupply of milk with no way to expel them, you can experience engorgement. The condition can make your breast hard and painful. The problem also leads to plugged ducts.

Plugged Ducts

The plugged duct feels like a sore and tender lump. But, it usually develops on one of your breasts.

Fungal Infections

Breastfeeding mothers are at risk of yeast infection. The problem can lead to itchy nipples and shooting/achy pain in your breasts.

Treatment For Problems With Breastfeeding

If you find it painful and difficult to breastfeed, then you need to share your concerns with a lactation consultant. The consultant can offer you suggestions on positions as well as techniques to feed the baby properly without any discomfort. The suggestions will help both you and the baby. If you see signs of mastitis, see a doctor get treatment. Other than the steps, you can also find the pointers suggested below helpful to heal a sore breast:

  • You need to pump or express little milk between the feedings. It will soften the breast and prevent engorgement. The step will also make your nipple soft, making the feeding less painful.
  • Change position each time you breastfeed the child.
  • Massage your nipple with few drops of breast milk to heal the soreness and cracking of nipples. You can do the step immediately after breastfeeding to avoid any problems.
  • Massage the area around the plugged milk duct. Apply a warm compress on the region to ease the pain and other discomforts.
  • Trapping of moisture beneath the breast pads can cause problems. So, you need to let the nipples dry after breastfeeding.
  • Use breathable cotton pads and change them often to prevent infections.
  • Mothers who return to work need to pump the milk on the same schedule for the baby while at home to avoid breast tenderness.

Breast Tenderness Due To Taking Hormone Medications

If you are taking hormonal medications, then you can suffer from breast pain and tenderness. It is the most common side-effects of hormone medications like birth control pills. Oral contraceptives contain the main reproductive hormones (estrogen and progesterone). It can trigger other signs and symptoms in your body like:

  • Headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Mood changes

When you undergo treatment for infertility or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause, you can experience the above-mentioned symptoms. If you are undergoing such treatments, talk to your doctor about the side-effects you can suffer.

Dealing With Side-Effects Of Hormone Medications

It is important to convey your discomfort associated with taking the hormone medication to the doctor. Your doctor can suggest alternative solutions for the problem like:

Birth Control

Women taking hormonal birth control need to discuss their options. You have the following methods to deal with the problem:

  • Your doctor can prescribe a different medication for oral contraception. Different brands of medication have a different combination of hormones. You may have fewer negative effects with other brands.
  • You can try hormonal IUD instead of oral contraceptives. The steady release of hormones is easy to tolerate.
  • If you find hormonal treatments uncomfortable, then opt for copper IUD.
  • Switch to condoms for birth control. You can tolerate the barrier birth control method better.
Hormone Replacement Therapy

If you are undergoing hormone replacement therapy for any underlying health problem, then think about switching to topical creams. You can control the hormone dose using the cream method instead of oral/injected HRT medication. It also allows you to control the location you can apply it. Talk to your healthcare provider to get more details.

Fibrocystic Breasts

Fibrocystic Breasts

You can experience tenderness in your breasts due to fibrocystic changes. More than 50% of the women around the world experience tenderness due to the changes. Women with such breast tissue do not experience any signs or symptoms. If they do experience symptoms, it includes the following:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Sensitivity
  • Lumpy or rope-like texture

The symptoms mostly appear in the outer or upper areas of the breast. These symptoms tend to worsen right before your monthly menstrual cycle.

Treatment For Fibrocystic Breasts

When you experience the condition, you need to see a doctor to get treatment. The condition requires medical assistance for proper management. The treatment options include:

  • Applying heat using a heating pad or placing a hot water bottle on the breast to reduce pain.
  • Wear a supportive bra like a sports bra to relieve the pressure on the breasts.
  • Take hormonal birth control pills (oral contraceptives) suggested by your doctor to prevent the symptoms from worsening during the period.

These symptoms associated with the problem are easy to handle. But, you need immediate medical attention when you notice the following:

  • A new lump
  • Development of a bigger lump
  • Worsening or continuous pain
  • Changes in your body continuing even after the period ends


You can suffer an infection in your breast tissue. The infection is known as mastitis. It is common among women who breastfeed their children. But, the problem can affect any woman. The condition usually affects one breast. The symptoms associated with the infection can begin suddenly. You can experience the following:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness of breast
  • Burning sensation
  • Breast is warm to touch
  • Redness
  • Fever
  • Chills

Treating Infection

It is important to see a doctor to treat the infection. You need to take oral antibiotics to clear the infection. The oral antibiotics can heal the infection. Without treatment, the infection can develop into an abscess causing more complications. In addition to taking antibiotics, you need to follow some steps at home to ensure better healing:

  • Get good rest to help your body heal.
  • Drink lots of fluids to get rid of the flu.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothes or bras until the infection clears.
  • Breastfeeding women need to continue it. Expressing milk between feedings or increased feedings reduces pain.


You can develop small cysts on your breast, which has fluid in it. The small lumps with soft, round or oval appearance have easy-to-feel edges. When you try to feel the cysts, it has a similar texture to a water balloon or grape. The cysts are sometimes hard masses. Women develop one or more cysts and it can appear in either one breast or both. If you have cysts, then you can experience the following signs:

  • Pain around the lump
  • Breast tenderness
  • Lumps can grow bigger before periods
  • Nipple discharge
  • Cysts become painful before the monthly cycle

Treatment For Breast Cysts

When you see such cysts, you need to see a doctor. The cysts need a thorough evaluation to determine the underlying issue. At times, cysts can indicate a more serious issue like cancer. So, you need to see a medical professional without fail to get the proper diagnosis. A simple cyst requires no specific treatment. It goes away on its own. But, you need to take action to relieve the symptoms associated with it:

  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce pain and discomfort
  • Apply a hot or cold compress to reduce the pain
  • Reduce the intake of salt to avoid water retention

In some cases, home remedies may not offer relief. So, you need medical assistance. The doctor drains the fluid from the cysts to reduce pain and other discomfort associated with the problem.

Medical Assistance For Breast Tenderness

Although many causes of breast pain and sensitivity can be treated at home, you should see your doctor if you begin experiencing severe symptoms like:

  • Unusual discharge
  • Persistent pain
  • Increase in swelling
  • Fever
  • Chills

With a proper diagnosis, your doctor can suggest a proper treatment plan meeting your needs. With proper care and medication, the symptoms clear within a week or two.

Diagnosing Breast Tenderness

If you suffer from other symptoms along with tenderness in your breast, you need to see a doctor. The issue can point towards something serious. Your doctor can perform the following diagnostic tests to detect the issue:

Clinical Breast Exam

The doctor checks the breasts and the lymph nodes in the underarm and lower neck. It is determined if the tenderness points towards some other health condition.



If you develop lumps in your breasts, then you need a mammogram to detect the problem. It is also suggested when you suffer from pain in the breast. The x-ray can evaluate the specific area of your breast.


It is an imaging test that uses sound waves to produce images of your breast. The test is done along with a mammogram to detect the underlying problems for pain and tenderness.

Breast biopsy

If you have suspicious bumps along with tenderness in the region, then you need to undergo breast biopsy. The biopsy refers to the invasive procedure used to take a sample of the breast for assessment. The sample is sent to the lab to detect the presence of malignant cells.

Treatment For Breast Tenderness

The treatment for tenderness in your breast depends on the underlying cause of the problem. After diagnosing the problem conclusively, the doctor suggests the ideal option to treat the condition.


Don’t panic when you experience breast tenderness as it may not mean cancer. Many harmless conditions cause breast changes. Therefore, before jumping into conclusions and worrying unnecessarily, you need to see a doctor. With assessment and evaluation from a professional, you can know the exact reason causing the tenderness and get the necessary help. With proper care and medical assistance, you can eliminate the discomfort caused due to tenderness of your breast.

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