A person’s chest is a pair of mammary glands that attach to the pectoral muscles. In men, the mammary glands do not normally develop and are rudimentary; in women during puberty, the breast increases and becomes hemispheric.
Based on these physiological characteristics, most women under chest pain often mean pain in the breast, and men – pain in the pectoral muscles. Moreover, women usually associate this manifestation with the approaching menstruation and consider it the norm, while men attribute pain to indisposition or excessive zeal in training in the gym.
However, in those and in others, chest pain may not only be a physiological manifestation (for example, during menstruation, during lactation, or after excessive exertion), it can also serve as an alarming symptom of a serious illness.
Causes and manifestations of pain in the chest
Hormonal abnormalities in the body
The mammary gland is an organ whose growth and development is controlled by sex hormones. Therefore, the main explanation for why a woman’s chest hurts is a change in the normal ratio of hormones that act on the tissues and cells of the mammary glands. Hormonal background in the weaker sex may vary due to the reasons given below.
Monthly fluctuations in different phases of the menstrual cycle.
Before menstruation, there is an increase in the body’s hormones (which is considered the norm), designed to preserve a possible pregnancy. At this time, the chest is enlarged and slightly sore due to the stretching of the capsule, or itching due to irritation of the superficial nerve endings of the stretched skin. When you click on the nipple from it can stand a few drops of colorless or yellowish liquid. With the onset of menstruation, the pain in a woman disappears, the mammary glands after menstruation return to their original size and become soft.
In the middle of the cycle, there may also be short-term painful sensations in the chest, along with lower abdominal pains caused by the action of hormones, which ensure the release of the egg from the ovary. After ovulation, this kind of pain disappears without a trace, the breast tissue does not change.
If a woman has a hormonal imbalance for a long time in the direction of the predominance of estrogen – their excessive amount can lead to permanent tissue swelling and the development of mastitis. The chest in such cases is poured, swells and hurts a lot. Pain is of such intensity that a woman cannot wear a bra or other tight-fitting clothing. In addition, there are changes in the tissues of the breast in the form of hardness or small nodules.
Mastopathy is no longer considered a physiological manifestation of the hormone level difference, this is a disease that requires a careful approach to treatment.
Effect of progesterone and prolactin hormones during pregnancy
In the first trimester of pregnancy, the breasts may hurt due to the effects on the breast tissue of progesterone, a hormone that preserves pregnancy. Under its influence the alveolar tissue grows, the gland increases in volume, preparing to perform the subsequent function of lactation.
Approximately to the beginning of the 12th week, when the preservation of pregnancy goes to the placenta, chest pains decrease. At the end of the third trimester of pregnancy, the body begins to prepare for childbirth and feeding, the production of prolactin increases, so the breast again becomes poured and painful.
Increased milk production and an increase in gland during lactation
Immediately after childbirth, thanks to prolactin and oxytocin, there is a sharp increase in the production and release of milk, which leads to a painful increase in the breast. With the observance of breastfeeding “on demand”, the pain in the mammary glands of a nursing mother quickly passes.
If there is a stagnation of milk or an infection has joined, then mastitis develops – a disease that is characterized not only by severe chest pain, but also by reddening of the skin and the appearance of a puffy hearth (usually on the sides of the mammary glands), as well as deterioration of the woman’s general condition and fever. .
Changes in the gland due to abortion
After an abortion, the chest can hurt for about a week. This time is necessary for the natural reduction of the concentration of hormones of pregnancy and the reduction of their effect on the mammary glands. If the pain is noted for a longer period after the termination of the pregnancy, it is necessary to consult a doctor to determine the cause. One of the options for the development of this situation may be the continued growth of the ovum after an unsuccessful abortion, for example, if a woman tried to get rid of the pregnancy on her own with medications.
In other cases, the cause of long-term chest pain after abortion (especially frequent and repeated) are severe violations of the regulation of sex hormones, which can lead to mastopathy, various genital diseases and infertility.
Hormonal disorders in the male body can lead to gynecomastia (the literal designation “breast like a female”). When it appears, in addition to pain in the chest, the alveolar tissue grows in men, the mammary gland enlarges and takes on the appearance of the female breast.
This pathology occurs in the case of a violation in the body of the stronger sex, the production of male sex hormones and / or excessive secretion of the female. The cause of this hormonal imbalance and the following gynecomastia may be:
- the presence of tumors;
- the use of hormonal drugs for the treatment of cancer (testicular cancer),
- taking drugs for a quick set of muscle mass (anabolic steroids);
- endocrine system diseases (diabetes mellitus and thyroid dysfunction);
- liver or kidney disease;
- taking alcohol and drugs (marijuana, heroin);
- use of certain types of antibiotics, tranquilizers, as well as funds for the treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and the cardiovascular system.
Non-hormonal causes of pain
The chest can also hurt for non-hormonal reasons, for example, after bruises and against the background of some infectious diseases (shingles). Also, pain in the chest area in both men and women can occur after training with weights, for example: in cases of selecting the wrong weight, wrong technique or working with record weights.
The situation of unilateral pain, when, for example, the right chest ache in isolation can also appear due to injury and stretching (most often, damage to the pectoral muscles and ligaments occurs when performing the bench presses). In the event of such an injury, the pain may be accompanied by swelling, swelling and hematomas in the sternum and shoulder region, as well as weakness or dysfunction of the arm and disturbance of the natural contour of the damaged pectoral muscle.
If the left breast is sorely isolated, first of all, it is necessary to exclude cardiovascular diseases (angina, heart attack), since ischemic pains in the heart can be masked as pains in the mammary gland, as well as irridate (“shoot through”) in the area of the scapula, neck, jaw , abdomen, shoulder or left arm. Pains of this nature are usually very strong, tearing, pressing and burning, which distinguishes them from muscle pain.
Also, in the left side of the sternum, pains not related to the heart may appear, the cause of which may be:
- cervical or thoracic osteochondrosis;
- weakness of the muscles in the thoracic spine;
- rib cartilage disease;
- stress, depression or neurosis;
- disease of the stomach or pancreas;
- and much more.
Cancer can also be a cause of pain in the chest, and in both women and men. Despite the fact that in men, the mammary glands are not naturally developed in the case of endocrine disorders, as well as due to cirrhosis of the liver, genetic diseases, unfavorable heredity or radiation exposure, they are also susceptible to breast cancer, although this happens very rarely. In women, on the contrary, breast cancer takes the first place among oncological diseases.
Usually, breast cancer proceeds painlessly at early stages, however, in the chest area, both sexes develop symptoms characteristic of cancer: a solid nodular formation is felt, skin changes (“lemon peel”) and nipple retraction are seen, and lymph nodes are enlarged.
For early detection of both malignant and benign neoplasms in the mammary gland, it is necessary to conduct regular breast self-examination. How to do it tells the video.
Diagnosis and treatment of chest pain
Treatment of chest pains caused by injuries of ligaments and muscles should begin with a visit to the surgeon, if you suspect pathology in the heart, you must urgently contact a cardiologist, with osteochondrosis and other problems with the spine – a neuropathologist, with problems with the gastrointestinal tract – a gastroenterologist. Or you can simply ask for help from the district physician, and then follow his direction.
In case of pain in the area of the breast, as well as the appearance of other symptoms (an increase in the gland, the appearance of secretions and
Further examination to identify the causes of breast pathology may include the following steps:
- Ultrasound – allows you to determine the formation in the soft tissues of the breast size more
Prescribed treatment will depend on the established cause, which may cause chest pain.
- with manifestations of premenstrual syndrome or ovulatory pain, treatment is usually limited to the use of vitamins and herbal preparations with mild hormonal activity;
- if purulent inflammation of the mammary gland is detected, it is often recommended to administer antibacterial drugs orally, sometimes opening and drainage of the lesion is necessary;
- diffuse forms of mastopathy, as well as the manifestation of gynecomastia in men, usually can be corrected by prescribing hormonal preparations;
- nodules, cysts and tumors may offer to be surgically removed;
- if chest hurts due to stretching or muscle inflammation, they will help to prescribe anti-inflammatory tablets and ointments, as well as warming compresses.
You must know that the severity of pain in the chest is not always directly proportional to the severity of the disease. Sometimes a mild form of mastopathy leads to severe pain even from contact with clothing. Conversely, some forms of cancer are painless up to the last stages.
Therefore, if the painful chest is disturbed periodically or permanently for quite a long time, the best solution would be to seek help from a qualified specialist.