Have you ever felt pain under right breast? Pain below the right breast usually indicates gallbladder issues. However, other medical conditions have the same symptom. That’s why it’s important to identify the causes and understand them to get the proper treatment. In this article, you’ll discover some health problems that could cause pain under your right breast, including the proper treatments.
Some women fear that this symptom could indicate breast cancer. Generally, it’s not. This type of pain may have to do with medical conditions affecting your muscles or organs in the right side of your abdomen, such as the gallbladder, liver, kidneys, or pancreas.
Since a host of conditions could have the same symptom, proper diagnosis is crucial. Your doctor will most likely get your medical history, perform physical examination, and prescribe laboratory tests to help pinpoint the exact cause. You may undergo MRI, X-ray, and CT scan to determine if there’s organ enlargement, tumors, and bone structure abnormalities.
Causes of Pain under Right Breast
Each gallbladder condition has different symptoms. However, one of the common symptoms of some gallbladder diseases, such as gallstones and cholecystitis, is pain in the upper right of the abdomen or just below the right breast.
The most common complication of gallstones is cystic duct blockage. When this duct is blocked, it produces sudden and severe episodes of pain in the upper right of the abdomen, just below the breastbone. This is what they call biliary colic.
Cholecystitis is the medical term for an inflamed gallbladder, which is due to excessive alcohol consumption, tumor, or gallstones. A person with this condition will usually feel the pain in the left or right side of the abdomen, below the shoulder blades, or at the back of the breastbone.
- The first step is to identify the specific gallbladder disease that’s causing pain under your right breast. Your doctor will most likely ask about your medical history, perform an abdominal evaluation, and suggest a series of laboratory exams (urine test, x-ray, ultrasound, etc.), so he can begin the appropriate treatment plan.
- Doctors could also prescribe medicines to ease the pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms.
- Surgery becomes an option if the pain becomes severe or recurrent. If you can’t have or don’t want to have surgery, your doctor could prescribe a medicine that dissolves gallstones, like ursodiol.
- While there’s no standard diet for gallbladder diseases, a low-sugar, low-fat diet usually helps reduce the symptoms. Eat more fiber-rich foods, such as beans, oats, fruits, and vegetables.
Fibrocystic breast—also referred as fibrocystic breast changes and fibrocystic breast disease—is a common and non-cancerous condition in which the breasts become lumpy and painful. It’s not really a disease. In fact, it’s considered normal and usually affect women in their thirties to fifties.
The exact cause of fibrocystic breast is unknown, but experts believe it has to do with menstruation-related hormone changes. Women’s menstrual cycle causes hormone fluctuations, specifically an increased in the production of estrogen and progesterone hormones, which could make their breasts lumpy and sore.
- Generally, you don’t need to do anything for fibrocystic breast since it’s not really a disease. To rule out possible risk for cancer, you could have regular mammograms and physical breast exams performed by a healthcare provider.
- Limit or avoid caffeine. A study suggests that restricting caffeine is an effective means of managing pain associated with fibrocystic breast.  In other women, chocolates make the pain become worse.
- Pay attention to your diet. Lowering your consumption of salty meals will help reduce the swelling. Meanwhile, a high-fiber, low-fat diet will help ease the symptoms and may lower your risk for breast cancer. Eat more high-fiber foods because they’re high in nutrients and contain less of the bad stuff.
- According to MayoClinic, evening primrose oil and vitamin E may lessen breast pain symptoms for some women.
Caveat: See your doctor immediately if there are discharges coming out from one of your breast nipples, especially the type that stains your shirt or bra.
Rib fracture is usually not a result of a major trauma. Most cases of rib fracture occur when there’s repetitive stress on the abdominal area secondary to violent coughing spells and weak bones. You see, underneath each of your rib are nerves that supply sensation to the breasts and chest wall. That’s why you feel the pain on the breast where there’s a bruised or fractured rib.
- Bruised or broken ribs (but not displaced) heal on their own within three to six weeks, so there’s usually not much you can do about it. It’s a good idea to work closely with your doctor while they heal to identify the main cause and receive the appropriate treatments.
- To keep the pain under control, you may take non-prescription anti-inflammatories and painkillers, like acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen. Take paracetamol for mild to moderate pain. If paracetamol alone is not enough, you can take it in combination with an anti-inflammatory drug or a stronger painkiller that contains codeine to ease moderate to severe pain.
- Once you’re able to tolerate the pain, your doctor may suggest certain deep breathing exercises to prevent pneumonia and other respiratory infections from developing. Don’t wrap your ribs because it would prevent your lungs in the injured area from fully expanding. Thus, it increases your risk of developing pneumonia.
- Take a complete rest and avoid strenuous activities.
- Placing something cold on the affected area could help reduce inflammation and pain during the early stages.
Hepatitis C is an infectious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus. According to Mayo Clinic, it’s the most serious type of hepatitis. People who have this disease experience tiredness, poor appetite, fever (38°C or 100.4°F and above), and tummy pains (in the upper right portion, just below the right diaphragm).
Why is there liver pain?
The liver has a protective capsule that has many pain receptors on it. When your liver is inflamed or enlarged, the pressure placed on the capsule causes dull pain in the upper right side of your abdomen, just below your right lower ribs.
- The problem with hepatitis C is once the virus is in your blood, it travels to your liver, where it would silently stay for a long time. That’s why many people don’t receive the proper treatment because they don’t know they have hepatitis C. If you suspect you have this condition, get a blood test right away.
- When you don’t treat hepatitis C immediately, it could cause cancer or liver failure. Doctors give drugs to prevent liver damage. If it’s chronic, your doctor may give you a combination of drugs, like peginterferon and ribavirin. According to the CDC, not all sufferers may benefit from combination drug therapy. However, new drugs for hepatitis C are more effective and cause fewer side effects.
Hepatitis C is particularly difficult to diagnose because the virus can stay in your liver unnoticed. Thus, it’s important to practice preventive measures to keep yourself free from this serious condition. Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Educate yourself about hepatitis C, especially on how you can get it. It’s not through sneezing, coughing, kissing, or sharing of eating utensils with an infected person. You get the hepatitis C virus through blood transfusion or direct contact of the infected blood.
- Never share needles, toothbrushes, nail clippers, razors, and scissors.
- If you have any cuts, cover them with a dry dressing to prevent the virus from getting into the break in your skin.
- Stop breastfeeding temporarily if your nipples are cracked and bleeding.
- If you’re a healthcare professional, make sure to follow standard safety precautions to protect yourself from blood-borne diseases. For instance, avoid recapping needles and throw them in the appropriate puncture-resistant container to avoid needle-stick.
Intercostal neuritis, also called costochondritis and chest wall pain, is a painful condition that results from damaged nerves between the ribs. This condition could happen for a number of reasons. The most common reason is surgery-related nerve damage. Sometimes, awkward sleeping positions, prolonged and violent coughing, physical activities, and falls could cause intercostal neuritis.
The pain in intercostal neuritis is often irregular, sharp, and severe. It radiates from the front towards the back, or vice versa. Some people online have complained of a pain under their right breast when they’ve reached for something, breathe, laugh, or do anything that requires exertion.
- You could take oral medications to ease the pain and inflammation around the nerves. If it’s too severe, your doctor could inject corticosteroids, an anti-inflammatory drug, and a local anesthetic for short-term pain relief. He may also refer you to a pain specialist, who would work together with you to create a treatment plan that’s specific to your symptoms.
- It’s your pain specialist’s decision if physical therapy is necessary for your condition. Exercises for intercostal neuritis usually help by expanding your chest area and stretching your intercostal muscles to remove pressure from the nerves and blood vessels situated between your ribs. However, in most cases, you should do these exercises in the presence of a qualified professional.
Tricep stretching is one example of exercise you could easily perform at home. Here’s how to do it:
- Bend your right elbow then put it at the back of your head, just across your right ear.
- Hold this position for not more than 15 seconds. Do this three times. Repeat this stretching exercise on your left elbow.
Acute Muscle Strain
Acute muscle strain, also referred to as pulled muscle, happens when there’s sudden tearing of your muscle. This happens due to overexertion (e.g. heavy lifting), lack of or improper warming up, and poor conditioning and flexibility, among others.
- Apply something cold on the affected area immediately after injuring your muscle to minimize swelling. Do this every hour for one day. You can use frozen vegetables, ice cubes wrapped in a small towel, or pour ice-cold water into a rubber water bag. Don’t put cold compresses directly on the skin or for more than 20 minutes to prevent cold burn.
- After two to three days, apply heat on the same area several times daily. This will help improve blood flow to allow complete healing.
- Rest the injured muscle for two days, especially if the pain becomes worse due to movement.
- Over-the-counter NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), like naproxen and ibuprofen, will help ease pain and swelling. If you’re taking a blood thinning drug (e.g. Coumadin), have a kidney problem, or have a history of gastrointestinal bleeding, avoid taking NSAIDs. Instead, you can use acetaminophen to help with the pain.
Inflamed Pancreas (Pancreatitis)
The pancreas could be inflamed for different reasons. According to the American Journal of Gastroenterology, the most common reason is gallstones. People who have mild pancreatitis will usually experience vomiting, nausea, and sharp pain in the upper abdomen. In some people, the pain caused by pancreatitis is crippling.
- If you think you have pancreatitis, go to your doctor immediately to receive the proper evaluation and undergo different laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor might have to admit you in the hospital if he confirms you have acute pancreatitis.
- There’s no standard treatment for the inflammation. In some cases, strong injectable painkillers are necessary to ease the severe pain.
- Make sure to increase your fluid intake because pancreatitis can cause dehydration due to several issues, such as vomiting, sweating, and decreased intake of food and fluids.
These are just some of the possible causes for pain under right breast. This is certainly not a definite list. If you experience pain under your breast, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider, so he can help you identifying the exact cause and create the appropriate treatment plan for you.