Pain in the breast can be disturbing and leave you with various queries in mind. When you are at work and there is sudden sharp shooting pain in the breast, you may not only be annoyed but also worried about what could be causing this.
Shooting pain in breast may be commonly experienced by women after a strenuous day, long hours of work, before and after menstrual periods or simply during rest. Breast pain is called cyclical when it may be related to menstrual cycle and otherwise considered non-cyclical.
Causes of Shooting Pain in Breast
Breast tissue is richly supplied with blood vessels, nerves and soft tissues. There are many important structures like heart, lungs, ribs, sternum, etc. near the breasts, which can add to your concern.
Breast pain can have various causes and it can also be related to menstrual cycle. However, sudden shooting type of pain in breast may not always be before or after menstrual cycle. The breast tissue may develop changes as a result of injuries, inflammation or some underlying medical condition, which can cause shooting pain in breasts.
Breast Conditions that can Cause Shooting Breast Pain
- Cyclical breast pain may sometimes be of shooting type and is experienced as sharp pain in breast, especially around the periods, pregnancy or menopause. It may increase and decrease as the hormonal phase changes.
- Non-cyclical breast pain may be seen due to inflamed breast tissues, trauma or cyst in breast, some growths or fibroadenomas, breast abscesses, issues with the milk ducts or nipples. Post-surgical conditions after breast surgeries and mastectomy can cause shooting pain in breast. Tensed muscles supporting the breast may be another cause of sharp breast pain. Sometimes, tumors or breast cancers of inflammatory type can also cause shooting breast pain.
Musculoskeletal Conditions that can Cause Shooting Pain in Breast
The muscles and bony structures under the breast can get affected, due to which, the pain may be sharply felt in the breasts. A common condition called costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the cartilage of the chest wall can cause sharp and shooting pain in the breasts. Other conditions affecting the sternum and the ribs like arthritis of the joints, injuries or rib fractures that cause inflammation can lead to shooting breast pain.
The chest wall is supported by muscles, which can get inflamed or tensed after strenuous work, travel or injuries. Previously injured areas may become more sensitive to stress. In such cases sharp shooting pain can be felt in the breasts.
Sometimes, back and neck pain can extend in the front and bring on shooting pain in the breast. Muscles of the neck and back may get strained or tensed as occurring due to muscle pull, spondylosis or disc problems and cause shooting breast pain. Any inflammation of the soft tissues of chest wall can radiate to the breast and result in sharp and shooting pain in breasts.
Respiratory Problems as a Cause for Shooting Pain in Breast
Respiratory conditions affecting the lungs and related structures too can cause severe chest pain and shooting pain in breast. Inflammation of the airways, bronchitis; of the lung lining, pleura or similar conditions can cause breast pain.
Breast pain associated with pulmonary conditions, also exhibits other respiratory issues like cough, severe pain on deep inspiration or difficulty in breathing. Sometimes fever may also be noted.
Few other causes of breast pain include large size of breast, ill-fitting bras or dresses that fit too tightly. Breast pain may be seen in overweight women, particularly when there has been a recent weight gain. Some women may experience sudden shooting pain in breast due to certain medications like hormone replacement or oral contraceptive pills.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Shooting Pain in Breast
A thorough clinical history and detailed notes of your menstrual cycle can help in reaching a diagnosis. Breast pain related to menstrual cycle should be noted and charted depending on the dates, while pain unrelated to the periods should also be understood well.
Proper clinical examination of the breast is essential; so consult your physician and get a thorough check done. History or injury, infection, fever, etc. would be taken and clinical examination would be required. Any lump, thickened area, or irregular region in the breast needs to be evaluated. You can also do a regular breast self-examination to be aware of any changes.
Investigations like mammogram, ultrasound may be advised and breast biopsy may be considered, if found appropriate.
Treatment for shooting pain in breast generally includes treating the underlying cause and symptomatic medications. For cyclical breast pain, hormone or oral contraceptive pills may be adjusted. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines for pain and other prescription medicines for infection, muscle pull may be given.