Breast Pain, also called Mastalgia, is defined as sharp, burning pain, stabbing, tenderness, throbbing, or tightness in the breast tissue. The pain can occur to anyone as the breast tissues, and mammary glands are present in males and females.
Most of the breast-related pain is curable, while some do not require any treatment and the pain goes away on its own.
Family History, Klinefelter syndrome, Obesity, and radiation exposure are common risk factors for breast pain.
What Causes Breast Pain in Men?
Some of the most common conditions that cause breast pain in men include:
Gynecomastia is the most common cause of breast pain in young and adult men. It is a condition in which estrogen and testosterone hormone gets imbalance due to overgrowth of breast tissue.
Your doctor can identify this condition with a simple physical examination of the breast, genitals, and abdomen. A blood test, mammogram, MRI, and breast tissue biopsy can also be required depending on your doctor’s pain and physical examination.
In some cases, Gynecomastia can also be early signs of testicular cancer. Therefore, you can be asked to do testicular ultrasound .
Strain in muscle is another cause of breast pain, especially if you do heavy lifting or are involved in a sports activity that can cause injury to the pectoralis (major or minor). Pectoralis are the two main muscles present in the chest. The main symptoms of a muscle strain are pain in the arm and chest, weakness, and deformity of the affected chest/arm.
The physical examination followed by ultrasound or MRI (if required) can help diagnose the exact problem area and severity of muscle injury.
The formation of cysts, i.e., a lump under the skin with air or fluid, can cause pain in and around the breasts. They are usually harmless but can cause irritation and pain if they become sore .
A physical examination and CT scan can help understand the nature of the cyst.
Runner’s nipples or jogger’s nipples can be one reason for pain in the breast. When the runner’s shirt is rubbed against the chest, especially in hot and humid conditions, it irritates the skin, resulting in redness or bleeding of the male nipple. You can apply petroleum jelly or band-aids on nipples to avoid this situation.
Any form of injury in the breast can cause pain. An injury can cause the death of fatty acid, which can further result in lumps formation.
Breast Fat Necrosis
This condition occurs when breast tissue gets damaged by a car accident, sports injury, or other severe cause. A lump or multiple lumps are formed in the breast, leading to pain in the breast. However, this particular cause of breast pain is comparatively low. The doctor can diagnose by physical examination followed by ultrasound or biopsy to determine the growth.
Fibroadenoma is usually a non-cancerous round and firm lump formed. This condition is more common in females than males, as they do not have fibro glandular tissue in their breasts. A simple physical examination and ultrasound can help in diagnosing this condition.
Breast cancer can also cause pain in the breast. Early signs of breast cancer include a lump, changes in the skin, discharge from the nipple, etc. Mammogram, MRI followed by biopsy can help in detecting cancerous cells. Breast cancer in males can be treated by following standard treatments like Surgery, Chemotherapy, Hormone Therapy, Radiation Therapy, and Targeted Therapy.
Some of the signs that cause pain in the breast may be unrelated to muscles or tissue. Sometimes the location or cause is challenging to pinpoint. You can only feel some discomfort in your body.
Heartburn – GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) or Heartburn is a condition in which stomach acid moves up and irritates your esophageal lining. You feel a burning sensation after the meal or in the evening.
Respiratory Disease – Any respiratory conditions (coughing and shortness of breath) can cause breast pain. Blood Clot in the lung, Collapsed lung, or High BP in the lung’s arteries can cause pain.
Back, Neck, and Shoulder injuries
Antidepressants Medications can also cause breast pain.
Breast Pain in Men Symptoms
Breast pain in men can turn into a serious problem. There are several symptoms depending upon the cause and condition. Below is a list of some of the common signs and chest pain.
- Changes in the skin
- Dimpling or Puckering
- Nipple Discharge
- Chest tightness
- Cold Sweat
- Difficultly in Berating
- Shortness of Breath
- Discomfort in arms, neck, jaws, or abdomen.
- Lump in Breasts
- Swollen or Enlarged breast tissue
- Pain in testicles
You should consult your doctors for early diagnosis and prompt treatment.
Breast Pain in Men Reasons
There are several reasons for breast pain in men. One of the most common conditions in men that causes breast pain is Gynecomastia. The imbalance between the male hormone testosterone or estrogen can cause this medical condition.
Breast pain can be a regular pattern known as cyclic. And when there is no particular pattern, or the pain is constant, it is called non-cyclic pain. Some of the characteristics to identify the type of pain is:
Cyclic Breast Pain
It is related to hormonal change and is described as dull, aching, and heavy pain. It usually affects both the breasts, especially the outer portions, and is accompanied by breast fullness, swelling, or lumpiness.
Noncyclic Breast pain
Usually affects one breast and has a tightness, burning, aching, or stabbing sensation. The pain is constant in this condition.
Breast Pain in Men Treatment
The treatment varies depending upon the cause of the breast pain. Sometimes no treatment is required, and the pain goes away with time.
It is crucial to identify the cause of the pain before deciding on any treatment. Some of the treatment options are:
- Treating conditions like kidney failure and hyperthyroidism that causes enlargement of tissues
- Hormone Therapy
- Radiation Therapy
- Targeted Therapy
Breast Pain Prevention in Men
Breast pain can be quite discomfiting. You can follow these steps to prevent the causes that lead to pain.
- Avoid heavy weights and prolonged lifting activities
- Follow a low-fat diet
- Apply jelly petroleum or lotion on your nipple to avoid rubbing on the skin during running and jogging
- Control your stress and anxiety levels by doing meditation or relaxing therapy
- Maintain a balanced and healthy diet
Breast pain in males can happen though it is more common in females. Gynecomastia, jogger’s nipple, and cysts are some of the common causes of men’s pain.
The pain in your breast can indicate serious problems. Do not ignore the early signs and visit your doctor. Early diagnosis of the cause can help in timely treatment.
Consult your doctor if you face any discomfort or pain around your breast.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
- Hassan, H. C., Cullen, I. M., Casey, R. G., & Rogers, E. (2008, June). Gynaecomastia: an endocrine manifestation of testicular cancer. Andrologia, 40(3), 152–157. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0272.2007.00815.x
- Parsian, S., Rahbar, H., Rendi, M. H., & Lehman, C. D. (2011). Benign breast cyst without associated gynecomastia in a male patient: a case report. Journal of radiology case reports, 5(11), 35–40. https://doi.org/10.3941/jrcr.v5i11.869