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Severe breast pain

By Anonymous December 23, 2009 - 10:06am
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For almost 4 weeks I have constant breast pain. At first I thought I am pregnant because I had almost all the symptoms you can have. But the blood test was negative. My doc gave me a medicine to force a period. It worked. Except for the breast pain and swelling. It's still there. And very strong. I tried the painkiller Paracetamol but it doesn't help. Then I got Serviflox 500mg. Won't help either. Now I have to take Diclofenac Retard 75mg and still no improvement. And the doctors have no clue why. Can anyone help?

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EmpowHER Guest

Thanks Susan,

I have already tried many doctors at St. Joe's and I plan to try doctors at Henry Ford next since there is a facility nearby. Now that Henry Ford has more facilities west of the city so that I don't have to drive to the main facility that is in a bad area, I'm hoping that I will have luck finding a good doctor there. I hesitate to try U of M because although they are known as a good hospital they are also known to be very impersonal. It is also difficult to have medical students who appear to be around 15 years old staring at my breast while the doctor examines me to try to determine the source of the pain.

I realize that if I'm ever going to find help, I'm going to have to accept being treated by people who are insensitive and clearly don't care about my health. It's just a job for most health care providers today so I know that I can't expect any special treatment. All I really want is to find a doctor who is willing to look beyond the obvious (since I don't have any common illnesses) and maybe spend a little more time and do a little research to determine what is the cause of my pain. I don't think that doctors like for patients to come with notes or a list of things to discuss and they definitely don't like patients referring to research they've done on the Internet so I need to find a new gameplan when meeting with doctors to get better results.

I have often said that I would just live with the pain instead of trying to fine another doctor, but unfortunately the pain is so severe that I can no longer do that. I must find help for this unbearable pain so that I can get back to living my life. I have to mentally prepare myself to deal with more bad experiences with doctors, all of the negative, hurtful comments that some doctors make and the rude, unprofessional staff that work for some doctors. Maybe there is something that I'm doing wrong to have encountered the experiences that I have had. Most of my experiences haven't been so terrible. Mostly I have encountered doctors and medical staff who are disinterested and focused on getting to the next patient. Most have been cordial and superficially nice and I guess that's all that I should expect.

It's near the end of the year and deductibles start over again soon so I'm going to wait until January to start seeing doctors again. In the meantime I'm trying to do as much research as I can and gain as much information as I can so that I can go to a doctor and ask for specific tests so that I can at least rule out some of the more serious ailments.

I'm glad that your nausea has gone away and that your estradoil levels are normal. I'll have to do more research to find out all of the tests I need to have to determine whether or not I'm in perimenopause. I think that I am since I haven't had a period for over two months and I'm 48 and I have been late or missed periods several times this year. I have read that breast pain is common during perimenopause so this is something I must investigate.

Thanks again for your response.

November 5, 2011 - 8:03pm
HERWriter Guide

Dear Anonymous

Thanks for your post and I'm so sorry about your pain; it sounds awful.

Breast pain, known as Mastalgia, comes in two forms. One is known as cyclical (which is patterned after your monthly cycle) and the other is non-cyclical which has nothing to do with your monthly cycle.

Our Encyclopedia has an indepth page on Mastalgia and it describes the causes as :

◦Hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle
◦Trauma to the breast
◦Arthritis in the chest cavity and neck

In addition:

Risk Factors
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

The following factors are thought to increase the risk of mastalgia:

◦Relatively high hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) of the second half of the menstrual cycle
◦History of arthritis
◦Irritation of cervical (neck) nerve roots

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Breast cancer does not commonly cause pain. However, your doctor may also perform a mammogram.

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

Ruling Out Cancer
Worry of cancer can be the main concern associated with mastalgia. Performing a mammogram to rule out cancer as a cause can provide reassurance.

Topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may reduce the pain associated with mastalgia. Also, toremifene (Fareston), which is used in the hormonal treatment of breast cancer, may help reduce cyclical mastalgia.

The best way to prevent mastalgia is to avoid trauma to the breast. Wearing a sports bra when exercising can also prevent breast pain and tenderness.
You can read more on our Breast Pain page here : http://www.empowher.com/media/reference/mastalgia#definition

Anon - since you have ruled out pregnancy and your pain appears non-cyclical, you may require further evaluation. Mastalgia pain can be quite severe without it being some kind of serious issue but you do need to rule out conditions so you can focus on treatment. You may have an arthritic condition in your chest cavity or some other issue that needs further evaluation if they currently have no clue as to why you are having such severe pain.

Please contact them and tell them the pain killers are not working and you'd like a further evaluation to see what the problem can be. If nothing has worked so far, then your doctors needs to seek other avenues to see how they can treat you for this pain.

Will you put a call into your doctor and give us an update? I hope we can help you further but I do think another visit to your health care provide is in order. Please let us know what happens and we're here to provide more information when you need it.

December 23, 2009 - 2:22pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Susan Cody)

Thank you very much for your support. I went to my doctor today. He said I have very high hormon levels and it will go away sooner or later. He gave me a stronger painkiller and told me not to worry too much. I feel much better already.
Thanks again for your advice.
Merry Xmas.

December 23, 2009 - 4:15pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)


Thank you so much for the detailed response that you gave to another person back on 12/09. You gave me more information than I have received from any doctor since my severe breast pain started over six years ago. Two years ago I had an MRI result that said I have stenosis and degeneration in my neck and spine (in each of the C1-C7). A neurosurgeon had me to walk across the floor a few times and stand on my toes then said that nothing was wrong. My PCP has suggested that I see another neurosurgeon but so far I haven't because I didn't want to be dismissed again and told that my problems are nothing to be concerned about.

Now with the information that you have provided I can go to a doctor and say that I need for him to tell me what tests I need to take to check to see if I have an irritation at the cervical nerve root or arthritis in my chest cavity and neck. For the past year I have experienced severe pain in my chest and pain in my sternum area (along with the breast pain) and I didn't know that arthritis in my chest cavity and neck could be the cause. The severe breast pain that I experience 24 hours a day for 6 years is accompanied by neck pain, shoulder pain, pain in both arm (from shoulders to hands) as well as pain and numbness in both legs (although that may be another issue). The pain is constant and most often severe with sharp pains and burning pains in my breast that have now spread throughout my upper body. Thank you for giving me something specific to ask for when I go to a doctor. It seems that unless I come to a doctor with a potential diagnosis or requesting specific tests, they have no idea what is causing my breast pain and no idea what tests I should take to determine the source of the pain.

I also believe that the cause of my breast pain could be perimenopause. I'm 48 and haven't had a period for over two months. I have had irregular periods for over a year and many other symptoms that could be perimenopause. This is something else that I can specifically ask a doctor to test for. Several years ago when the breast pain first started I asked a gynecologist if he could check my hormone levels and he said that testing for hormone levels really doesn't means anything, but this doesn't seem to be true based on what I have read. Can you tell me the exact blood tests that I need to ask for to confirm that I'm in perimenopause?

Do you know of any breast specialists or general practitioners or any type of doctor in the Detroit, Michigan area (I live 20 miles west of Detroit) who might be able to help me to determine the cause of my long-term breast and chest pain?

I have almost given up on finding the source and possible cure for the pain I have experienced daily for over 6 years now that has left me bedridden for the last two years. Lately I have felt resigned that I will never get better, but I know that I should keep trying. Today I received an e-mail from one of the few friends that I have left with a link to your website so maybe this is a sign that there is still hope.

Thank you for reading this. I would appreciate any information that you can give me.

October 28, 2011 - 9:19pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon

Thanks for your post and I am happy I helped!

I'm glad you are armed with more information now - there's nothing as demeaning (and risky) as being dismissed because you're not fitting the criteria a doctor has on his/her chart.

With regard to testing your hormones - this isn't a bad idea. I am 41 and just had mine tested due to debilitating nausea for 7 days before my period was due. It came on three months ago and rendered me so sick I could barely make it through the day. The nausea would wake me up at night too. The tests done were for my "estradiol levels". They are all normal and ironically, no nausea this month (so far!).
Incidentally, the physician's assistant nixed my idea to get them tested straight away but then consulted the physician who said it was actually a good idea to test. Don't let one person who dismisses you stop you from going forward!

I'm fairly familiar with Greater Detroit but not with any specific doctors there for chest/breast pain. Teaching hospitals are great so you can try Henry Ford, St. Joe's system or U of M.

Let me know if I can help more!

November 3, 2011 - 10:21am
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