Chest and breast pain can be a source of concern, especially when a sufferer is unable to pinpoint the cause. The symptoms can be mild or severe, and this will usually depend on the original cause. Although they can be connected, the two conditions can also occur in isolation. There are many different causes and a variety of symptoms linked to chest and breast pain, so read on to discover the most important things to know about these two conditions.
Chest pain is normally an indicator of problems with the heart or esophagus, and symptoms are highly variable. A few commonly reported symptoms that accompany chest pains 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
Many of the most common heart and esophagus issues that can result in chest pain - and sometimes breast pain - are:
Angina. This refers to a thick buildup of plaque on the inner walls of arteries.
Pericarditis. This viral infection results in inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart. This is normally very short-term in nature.
Heartburn. Also called acid reflux, this happens as a result of stomach acid washing up to the esophagus.
Swallowing disorders. These can be caused by any disorder of the esophagus.
Breast pain is much more common than chest pain and affects most women at some point during their lives. Severity can vary from a mild ache to an intense sharp or throbbing pain. This is normally a result of unbalanced levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can cause soreness or inflammation in the delicate breast tissue. Hormonal factors account for around 75% of all breast pain, and this type is called cyclical breast pain. The non-cyclical type is the kind that will often accompany chest pain, as it is caused by pulled muscles in the chest or ribcage or by trauma to the breast tissue or surrounding area.
A few of the commonly reported symptoms are:
- A heaviness or soreness in the breast
- 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
- Variance in the intensity of pain
Breast pain is not normally a cause for concern, so if it is occurring in isolation, then it in unlikely to be a result of anything serious. However, chest pain is often a symptom of a medical condition, so if this becomes chronic or incredibly severe, then it is less likely to be a pulled muscle and should be checked by a medical professional.
Read more about breast pain during menopause.
- Harvard Health Publications. (2005). Breast pain isn't just a menstrual complaint. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/breast_pain
- National Breast Cancer Foundation. (2012). Breast Pain. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-pain
- National Health Service UK. (2012). Chest pain. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chest-pain/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- National Health Service UK. (2012). Symptoms of cyclical breast pain. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/breastpaincyclical/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
- National Institutes of Health. (2014). Estrogen and Progestin (Hormone Replacement Therapy). Retrieved October 7, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a601041.html