Sharp Shooting Pain in Breast: Common Causes and Treatments

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Updated: Jun 18, 2020


While most women experience breast pain at some point in their life, it can still cause considerable worry. As such, empowering oneself with knowledge is the best approach to enjoying peace of mind and optimal breast health.

Read on to learn more about experiencing a sharp, shooting breast pain, including its most common causes as well as the most effective treatments.

Common Causes of Sharp Shooting Pain in Breast

About Breast Pain

Breast pain can be categorized as cyclical (related to the menstrual cycle) or non-cyclical (not related to the menstrual cycle).

It is also possible to experience extramammary breast pain, which refers to pain derived from a problem outside of the breast itself, even though it may feel like it is coming from the breast.

What Causes Sharp Breast Pain?

Each of the aforementioned types of breast pain can cause a variety of uncomfortable sensations, from mild breast tenderness to sharp, shooting pain in the breast. It can be attributed to the following:

  • Hormonal changes. The monthly activity of reproductive hormones can impact the composition of breast tissue, which is why many women report sharp breast pain at specific points of their cycle, most commonly right before their periods.

  • Muscular strain. If damage is done to the pectoralis major, an important muscle in the chest region, the pain can radiate to the breast. Breast muscle pain can occur due to heavy lifting or other strenuous exercises.

  • Mastitis. If the tissues that make up the breasts become inflamed, either due to infection or injury, women can experience an intense shooting pain in the breast.

  • Stress and anxiety. Persistently high cortisol levels (the stress hormone) can have negative effects not only on a woman's emotional health, but also her physical well-being. For some, this could mean a sharp breast pain.

While it is usually an immediate concern among women experiencing breast pain, it is not typically indicative of cancer when it occurs on its own.1

How Can Shooting Breast Pain Be Treated?

Because a sharp, shooting breast pain often happens in an unpredictable manner, it might be tricky to find appropriate treatment and stop it from occurring. 

Nevertheless, various measures can prove beneficial for women with sharp breast pain, including:

  • Relaxation. To limit pain caused by stress or muscular strain, it can be helpful to take time to relax by taking a warm bath or getting a massage. Heating pads may also be successful.

  • Adequate bra. Choosing a bra that provides support may help women deal with the pain with more ease.

  • Herbal supplements. To balance hormones and decrease cyclical shooting breast pain, women often reach for various herbal supplements for breast pain, like phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating supplements.

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs. Whether in the form of a pill or cream, anti-inflammatory drugs can help soothe sharp pain caused by damage to chest muscles or inflammation in the breast tissues.


Understandably, a sharp pain in the breast is alarming to most women, especially when it happens for the first time. Fortunately, for most menopausal women, this uncomfortable symptom has hormonal causes and is not a cause for concern. To restore hormonal health, middle-aged women are encouraged to explore various breast pain treatments in more depth and enjoy a symptom-free life!

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