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Breast Pain Specialist

Elizabeth Arena, MD

Board Certified Surgical Oncologist & Director, Breast Center at Surgery Group LA located in Los Angeles, CA

When you have breast pain, it may be uncomfortable and yet no reason for concern, or it could be a sign that you need treatment. Elizabeth Arena, MD, of Beverly Grove, Los Angeles, offers 15 years of experience in treating breast pain and other conditions affecting breast health. For a comprehensive assessment of your breast pain, call to speak with the friendly office staff or schedule an appointment online with her office.

Breast Pain Q & A

What is breast pain?

Breast pain is when you have discomfort associated with your breast tissue. You may describe your discomfort as stabbing, sharp, tender, or tightness. Breast pain may affect one or both breasts or radiate to your underarm.

Breast pain most often occurs during the reproductive years, though you may experience it during or after menopause as well. Breast pain is common in women and isn’t usually a symptom of a severe problem.

As many as 70% of women admit to having breast pain sometime in their lifetime, while only about 15% need medical treatment. That said, evaluation is essential to rule out conditions like cancer or infection.

What are the different types of breast pain?

During your consultation, Dr. Arena categorizes your breast pain as either cyclical or noncyclical.

Cyclical breast pain

With cyclical breast pain, you notice your symptoms in association with your menstrual cycle. Cyclical breast pain with fullness and tenderness usually starts a few days before and resolves soon after your period begins.

Noncyclical breast pain

With noncyclical breast pain, your discomfort doesn’t coincide with your menstrual cycle. This type of breast pain could indicate injury or other breast conditions.

As part of your consultation, Dr. Arena asks questions related to your breast pain, associated symptoms, and the timing of your symptoms. She also performs a clinical breast exam. If needed, she may order an in-office ultrasound, mammogram, or breast MRI to rule out concerning underlying causes of your discomfort.

What causes breast pain?

During puberty, lactation, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, breast pain is common and most typically related to hormonal changes or changes in your breast tissue.

Other possible causes of your breast pain include:

  • Cysts
  • Mastitis
  • Infection or abscess
  • Lactation and engorgement of the milk ducts
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Muscle damage or tissue injury
  • Scar tissue after surgery
  • Side effects of antidepressants or heart medications
  • Heart disease medications
  • Smoking
  • Increased intake of caffeine

Breast pain is common for women with larger breasts, especially if you have a smaller frame. Dr. Arena creates a personalized plan of care that fits the underlying cause of your breast discomfort.

What are the treatments for breast pain?

Depending on the underlying cause of your cyclical breast pain, your treatment plan may include:

  • Dietary adjustments
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Calcium supplements
  • Estrogen blockers
  • Warm or cold compresses
  • Smoking cessation

To treat noncyclical breast pain, Dr. Arena may recommend antibiotics, medication changes, advanced diagnostic testing, or surgical intervention, depending on the cause.

For a comprehensive assessment of your breast pain, call the practice or use the online tool to schedule an appointment with Elizabeth Arena, MD.