Tenderness and Pain due to Breast Swelling

Tenderness and Pain due to Breast Swelling is a common symptom experienced by women all over the world at some point in their lives. This can occur due to causes as harmless as Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and Pregnancy to serious underlying problems such as Necrosis and an Abscess. Swelling and tenderness are rarely associated with life-threatening conditions such as Breast Tumors and Cancer.

Duration of pain

The duration of pain entirely depends upon the cause behind swelling and tenderness.

Character of pain

The character of pain is usually variable with the cause but mostly a dull, heavy, and aching pain is experienced.


Other than Tenderness and Pain due to Breast Swelling, there are some other common symptoms that may accompany, varying with respect to the underlying condition or disorder. Some of these are given under:

  • Lumps in Fibrocystic Breast.
  • Discharge from nipple.
  • Cracks on the skin.
  • Fever and rash in case of a Breast Abscess.
  • Slight rise in temperature of the Breast.
  • Pain radiating towards the armpit or arm.


Swelling and tenderness of the breast can be associated with a number of underlying conditions, mentioned below are some of the possible causes:

  • Swelling and tenderness in the breast are commonly experienced by women in the second half of the menstrual cycle. The swelling is due to the enlargement of milk ducts in the breast. The swelling takes place in response to estrogen that reaches its peak level just before the middle of the cycle.
  • Women who take contraceptive pills also experience Swelling and Tenderness of the Breast as a side effect.
  • Breast swelling is a common complaint by women who are on hormonal replacement therapy.
  • Focal Swelling in the Breast along with severe pain and tenderness is seen in Abscess, which develops as an untreated case of Mastitis.
  • Fibrocystic Breast changes lead to the formation of lumps in the Breast that cause the Breast to appear swollen and feel tender upon touching.
  • Necrosis of fat tissue in the breast is also one cause of Tenderness and Swelling in the Breast.
  • Some benign tumors like fibroadenomas and papillomas also cause Tenderness and Swelling.
  • Very rarely are pain and swelling associated with Breast Cancer. This too only occurs in the later stages of the disease and is accompanied by several other serious symptoms.

Risk factors

  • Pregnant women.
  • Females taking contraceptive pills.
  • Females on hormonal replacement therapy (HRT).
  • Women who are taking SSRI’s.


To diagnose the exact cause of swelling and tenderness your doctor will ask you a number of questions that will help him formulate a differential diagnosis. Confirmation of the diagnosis is mostly done by clinical examination and ultrasound or any other investigation, depending upon the findings.


  • For pain and over the counter painkiller can be taken.
  • For other symptoms, it is important to treat the cause.

Home Remedies

  • Wear a properly fitted bra.
  • Use a heating pad to relieve inflammation.
  • Evening primrose oil has great benefits.
  • If you are lactating, empty out your breasts as frequently as possible.
  • Do not stop breastfeeding.
  • Keep the area dry and clean.

When to consult a doctor?

If you begin to experience any of the following symptoms, you should book an appointment with your doctor as early as possible:

  • Tenderness and Pain that is increasing gradually in intensity.
  • The appearance of new lumps.
  • Any sort of discharge from your nipples.
  • General fatigue and lethargy.
  • Severe pain and burning during Breastfeeding.


How long would the swelling last?

The duration entirely depends upon the underlying cause. Most of the time, the swelling subsides within a few days.

Does the swelling and tenderness in my breast indicate a tumor?

No, pain and swelling are very really associated with serious conditions such as tumors and cancer.

Can swelling and pain in my breast be a side effect of any medication I am using?

Yes, Several medications such as estrogen-containing pills and antidepressants particularly SSRIs are known to have swollen and tender breasts as an adverse effect.