15 Possible Causes of Pain under the Right Breast

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Pain under the Right Breast
Credit: iStock.com/Anetlanda

Pain under the right breast may indicate a serious medical condition, but breast cancer is not necessarily one of them. The pain may involve one of the organs such as the kidney, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, or right lung. It may also be gas or a muscle strain.

Pain under the right breast needs to be linked to the underlying cause before initiating a proper course of treatment.

The pain may be due to a preexisting medical condition; an injury; or the natural processes of puberty, menstruation, or pregnancy.

Possible Causes for Pain under Your Right Breast

1. Gallbladder Infection

As the gallbladder is located under the right breast, an issue such as gallstones may cause severe pain in this region. Gallstones are formed when cholesterol, salts, and pigments crystalize into small, hard stones.

These can cause a blockage of the bile produced during digestion as it travels to the liver.

Biliary colic is often described as a gallbladder or gallstone attack. Inflammation causes the pain as well as nausea, high fever, and vomiting. This pain may last for hours or days.

2. Pancreatitis

Pain under the right breast may be caused by an inflamed pancreas. This can result from an infection, gallstones, a blockage, certain medications, high triglyceride levels, or excessive alcohol use.

The pain may be a dull ache or extreme pain that radiates from the area to the back and chest. It may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

3. Kidney Stones

Small deposits of minerals and acid salts may form and cause pain under the right breast. Severe pain results as the deposits grow in size and become fixed in the ureter or kidney.

The pain may worsen, and appear in the back, abdomen, and groin areas. Nausea and vomiting are also common with kidney stone pain. There may be blood present in the urine as well.

4. Excessive Gas

Sudden jabs of pain under the breast may be caused by a build-up of gas. The pain may come and go and seem to radiate to the abdomen. Bloating and nausea may also be present.

Excessive gas may form due to overeating, digesting too much sugar, or consuming carbonated drinks. The intestines may also present gas pain with the presence of improperly digested carbohydrates.

5. Heartburn

The pain of heartburn may arise as a burning sensation under the right breast. This can also be felt in the throat, leading to possible regurgitation. Heartburn is irritation from stomach acid entering either the esophagus or the air passages from the throat to the lungs.

Heartburn often dissipates on its own but is sometimes mistaken for a heart attack.

6. Stress

Mild to severe physical or emotional stress may also cause pain under the right breast. This may be the result of stress causing the muscles to tense, its negative impact on the digestive system, or its ability to stimulate the heart to pump faster.

7. Anxiety Attack

An anxiety attack, commonly referred to as a panic attack, may cause minor to severe pain in the chest region under the breast. Similarly to excessive gas pains, an anxiety attack can be mistaken for a heart attack.

Clinical studies have shown that an anxiety attack may cause the muscles in the chest to become tense and spasm. This causes an increase in the heartrate and a choking sensation.

8. Pleurisy

Pleurisy refers to inflammation of the lining of the lungs, which can cause pain under the right breast. It may be caused by an upper respiratory illness, rheumatoid arthritis, a blood clot, lupus, or lung cancer.

A common cause of this pain includes inflammation from a bacterial or fungal infection. This severe pain may become worse upon coughing or sneezing, or when taking deep breaths.

9. Breast Cancer

Research shows that pain under the right breast is not an indicator of breast cancer, but, in rare cases, it may be a sign of a cancer that has spread to the lungs.

Cancer that has spread, known as metastatic cancer, may also produce symptoms of shortness of breath, coughing blood, and persistent infections.

10. Costochondritis

Costochondritis is inflammation of the cartilage joining the ribs to the breastbone. Irritation of this nature may produce pain under the right breast. Again, this pain may be mistaken for the onset of a heart attack.

Contributing factors to this condition may be an upper respiratory infection, muscle strain, chest injury, or fibromyalgia.

11. Food Blockage

Pain under the right breast may be caused by a food blockage within the esophagus. The sharp pain and discomfort from the trapped item is often referred to as swallowing food “down the wrong hole,” so to speak.

12. Fibrocystic Breast

More of a discomfort than serious pain can be felt with the fibrocystic breast condition. This common condition among females is basically noncancerous small lumps within the breasts.

13. Hiatal Hernia

Pain under the right breast may result from a hiatal hernia. This involves a portion of the upper abdomen pushing through the diaphragm and into the chest region.

This condition is often caused by an increase of pressure within the abdominal cavity and may involve the small intestine, kidneys, bladder, colon, liver, rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, spleen, stomach, or esophagus.

The pain is triggered by the strain of vomiting, coughing, bowel movements, or lifting a heavy object. A hiatal hernia may also be caused by the pressure of excess body weight, a pregnancy, or a build-up of fluid within the abdomen.

14. Rib Injury

Due to the location, an injury to the ribs may cause pain under the right breast. The pain may intensify with coughing, sneezing, or with each breath.

15. Muscle Strain

Overstretching the muscles of the chest may cause pain near the breast. This pain may be excruciating and cause issues with movement of the body.

What Causes Pain under the Breast during Pregnancy

Pain under the right breast in pregnancy is common, as the body undertakes various physical changes to prepare for the growing baby.

These pains may also be caused by an increase in size of the liver, gallbladder problems, the positioning of the fetus, or the everchanging structure of the hips.

Heartburn and acid reflux are also common pain conditions during pregnancy.

As the baby grows, the diaphragm may also move upwards, placing pressure on the rib cage and causing pain under the right breast.

What Causes Sharp Pain under the Right Breast That Comes and Goes?

While pain under the right breast has not shown to be a sign of breast cancer, there are some studies suggesting that pain that comes and goes may be an indicator of cancer.

Along with the infrequent pain, there may be other signs and symptoms that lead to a breast cancer diagnosis. Diagnostic testing may be done for:

  • Persistent itchiness in the breast, not related to dry skin conditions
  • Pain in the upper back, neck, or shoulders
  • Swelling of the breast
  • Presence of a lump in the armpit or breast
  • Changes in size and shape, or an odd appearance of the breast
  • Swollen, red breasts

What Causes Pain under the Breast When Breathing?

For a pain under the right breast when breathing, a lung issue may be the cause. Pleuritic chest pain is triggered by deep breathing. An infection within the lungs, caused by pneumonia or other respiratory issues, may cause the pleuritic chest pain when breathing.

Rheumatoid arthritis, chest injury or trauma, or lupus may also cause this type of chest pain during breaths. If pain is caused by a blood clot, immediate medical attention is required as this may be a life-threatening condition.

Natural Treatment for Pain under Your Right Breast

1. Dandelion

Dandelion has potassium particles that act as a diuretic to remove toxins and excess water from the body. Pain under the right breast may be alleviated by lessening water retention.

Combine one teaspoon of dried dandelion and one cup of warm water and simmer on the stove top for 15 minutes. Strain and drink three cups daily for one week. Add honey for taste, if needed.

2. Castor Oil

Castor oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties due to its ricinoleic acid content. It reportedly alleviates pain, promotes blood flow, and helps to flush waste and treat inflammation.

Combine one tablespoon of castor oil with two tablespoons of olive oil to form a massaging oil for the chest region. Apply to the affected area once each day.

3. Evening Primrose Oil

The gamolenic acid, or GLA, in evening primrose oil, may help to balance hormone levels. Pain under the right breast caused by hormonal changes may be reduced, as well as any tenderness.

Apply oil to the area under the right breast and gently massage for 15 minutes.

4. Ice Pack

Alleviate pain under the right breast and reduce swelling and inflammation caused by a muscle strain or injury with a cold compress.

Wrap ice cubes in a towel and place in a plastic bag to apply to the chest for a 10-minute treatment. Repeat throughout the day to relieve pain.

5. Manage Stress

You may not be able to prevent stress in all cases, but managing stress may help with pain under the right breast.

Perform relaxation exercises and techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and aromatherapy. Being able to talk through stressful events or situations may also help.

6. Dietary Changes

Pain under the right breast caused by conditions such as gallstones or fatty breast tissue may be treated, and possibly prevented, with changes to the diet.

Avoid fatty meals for gallstone conditions. Add vitamin E-enriched foods such as seeds, almonds, and vegetables to your diet for painful breast tissue.

Prevention Tips for Pains under Your Right Breast

  • Balance your diet by consuming vitamin E-rich foods.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day.
  • Avoid fatty and spicy foods and sugar products.
  • Raise the head of your bed for frequent episodes of acid reflux.
  • Participate in meditation and relaxation exercises daily.
  • Use the appropriate safety equipment when playing sports or lifting heavy objects.
  • Lose weight if obesity is an issue.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Quit smoking.

Pain under the right breast may be a common event but does not always represent a serious medical condition. Heart attack and breast cancer may be the greatest concerns. Knowing the underlying cause for pain under breast can alleviate these fears.

The severity and time-length of the pain depends on the cause. In most cases, home treatment may alleviate not only the pain but any swelling and inflammation triggering the sensation.

Pain under the right breast not associated with natural or mild causes may require a check-up by a medical professional to rule out any serious health conditions.

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Article Sources (+)

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