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Why do your breasts ache nonstop?

Dr. Roshini Raj
November 25, 2014

My boobs hurt all the time. Could something be wrong?

Up to 70% of women have breast pain, called mastalgia, at some point in their lives, and there are many causes. The most common one is normal hormonal changes; if this were the root of your aches, though, they would most likely arrive only around your period. Consistent breast pain happens more often after 30 and can feel like swelling or tenderness in both breasts or a sharp burning sensation in one spot. Relieving it sometimes takes trial and error. Rarely, pain is a sign of breast cancer.

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Allover pain could signify water retention, which can be diet-related. Some women find relief by taking vitamin B6 and vitamin E supplements with evening primrose oil (which is rich in a certain fat that seems to help). Others feel better when they limit caffeine or salt. But diet changes don't always work on their own. In that case, try over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin, or talk to your doc about topical meds. The pain should go away within a few months.

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Stabbing pain suggests a cyst or fibroadenoma (a benign tumor) in the breast. Either one can feel like a lump, but it might be too deep to notice via touch. Though they're mostly harmless, fibroadenomas can raise breast cancer risk. After diagnosis via ultrasound or mammogram, cysts can be drained with a fine needle, while fibroadenomas may require surgery.

Roshini Rajapaksa, MD is assistant professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and Health's contributing medical editor.

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