Breast pain

Breast pain is common and anyone can experience it. It’s not usually caused by anything serious but, the pain can be severe and may last a long time.

The pain can be felt running towards the nipple. This is because nerves in the breast run towards the nipple.

Breast pain is not a symptom of breast cancer.

Causes of breast pain

Breast pain is usually caused by:

  • hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle – this can make breast tissue sensitive
  • wear and tear in the muscle under the breast – this muscle runs to the shoulder so pain can be felt near the armpit

Sometimes both of these things may cause breast pain.

Some activities can also cause breast pain, including:

  • work
  • your caring responsibilities
  • gym training or exercise
  • using a stick

Managing breast pain


  • wear a well-fitting, supportive bra
  • wear a good fitting bra at night, if you find it helpful
  • try painkillers – aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • try rubbing gel painkillers into the area – ibuprofen or diclofenac
  • look at any activities that could be causing your pain, for example you could try to use your arms and shoulders less at gym sessions

Last updated:
18 October 2023