Suffering from chest and breast pain can be worrisome, especially if the symptoms are severe. The two conditions are separate, but can sometimes be connected. Generally speaking, breast pain is caused by hormonal factors, but other causes can be related to the chest - for example, if a muscle in the chest wall is pulled or if there are internal problems underneath the ribcage, then pain can often feel as though it is coming from the breast as well as the chest. Read on to discover more about chest and breast pain and their accompanying symptoms.
There are a number of different causes of chest pain, with it usually being an indicator of heart or esophagus problems. Therefore, symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause. A few commonly reported ones are:
- A feeling of pressure, fullness or tightness in the chest.
- A crushing pain that moves to the back, neck, jaw, shoulders, and arms.
- Trouble swallowing
- A pain that increases with deep breathing or coughing.
- A feeling of tenderness when the chest is pushed or touched.
In order to understand the symptoms fully, it is important to be aware of some of the possible factors that can lead to chest pain. These can include:
- Angina. Angina refers to a thick build-up of plaque on the inner walls of arteries.
- Pericarditis. This is a viral infection that results in inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart. This is normally very short term in nature.
- Heartburn. This happens as a result of stomach acid washing up to the esophagus.
- Swallowing disorders. Such disorders can be caused by any disorder of the esophagus.
The severity of breast pain vary from being slightly tender to being an intense and sharp burning pain. The most common cause of breast pain is erratic hormones. When estrogen and progesterone levels go awry, the breast tissue is affected, often feeling sore or inflamed. This type of breast pain is normally linked to the menstrual cycle and is called "cyclical breast pain".
However, non-cyclical breast pain is the type that is caused by some kind of trauma, usually a pulled muscle or damaged breast tissue. It is this type of breast pain that is most closely interlinked with chest pains, as chest muscles and disorders of organs behind the ribcage can have a direct effect on the breasts themselves. A few of the commonly reported symptoms are:
- A heaviness or soreness
- A stabbing or burning pain
- Pain felt in the upper, outer area of breasts, extending to the armpits, and sometimes down the arms
- Tender breasts
- Swelling and general lumpiness
- The intensity of the pain will not always be the same
Chest and breast pain are not normally a cause for concern, but if the pain seems particularly chronic and will not disappear, then seeing a doctor is advisable. If the pains are accompanied with other symptoms, such as nipple discharge or rashes, then do not hesitate to seek medical advice.
- National Institutes of Health. (2010). Estrogen and Progestin (Hormone Replacement Therapy). Retrieved September 24, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a601041.html
- National Breast Cancer Foundation. (2012). Breast Pain. Retrieved September 24, 2014, from http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-pain
- National Health Service UK. (2012). Chest pain. Retrieved September 24, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chest-pain/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- National Health Service UK. (2012). Symptoms of cyclical breast pain. Retrieved September 24, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/breastpaincyclical/Pages/Symptoms.aspx