How to treat painful and swollen breasts

Updated July 20, 2017

Breast pain is a pretty common occurrence for women. Many times it is related to the menstrual cycle, which is called cyclic breast pain. Breasts may be swollen and feel heavy and bloated before a menstrual cycle. Usually both breasts are affected at the same time. It occurs because some women's breasts are particularly sensitive to hormone changes. The pain may start when the woman is in her twenties or thirties and last until menopause. There may be times when the pain goes away for a period of time. Breast pain can also be non-cyclic and not related to the menstrual cycle. Sometimes there could be an underlying condition causing the breast pain. Sometimes it could be related to breast cancer. But, a very small percentage of women have breast pain for this reason. Many times breast pain is cyclic. Here are some ways to treat painful and swollen breasts.

Eat a low-fat diet. Some evidence shows that high levels of saturated fats in the blood make the breasts more sensitive to hormone levels. Avoid fatty foods such as meat, cheese, full-fat milk, cream, butter and anything made of pastry. Instead, switch to carbohydrates such as rice, bread, pasta and potatoes. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also good. Fish can be an alternative to fatty meats. Lowering daily fat intake could really improve breast pain.

Wear a well-fitted bra. A well-fitted bra can help alleviate some of the breast pain. A sports bra will be very good for a person with breast pain, especially for those who have large breasts. Wear the sports bra during exercise, while sleeping or when the breasts are especially sensitive. If a person wants to make sure she is wearing a well-fitted bra, she can be fitted by a professional.

Apply warm or cold compresses to the breasts. Applying the warm or hot compresses to the breasts should alleviate some of the breast pain.

Limit or eliminate intake of caffeine. Limit drinking coffee, soft drinks and tea. Although medical studies are inconclusive, many women have noted that cutting back on caffeine improves their symptoms.

Take medicine or vitamins. Simple pain relievers or drugs might work to alleviate breast pain such as Tylenol, Advil, Motrin and other similar drugs. Doctors also recommend a daily dose of vitamin E to help reduce breast pain.


Relax. Severe breast pain may be associated with high levels of anxiety and may improve with relaxation therapy. Keep a pain diary. Make note of the days that breast pain is experienced and record any other symptoms. This can be helpful in determining whether breast pain is cyclic or non-cyclic.


For severe breast pain, use danazol. Danazol is the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of breast pain. Be aware that use of danazol is associated with potentially serious side effects and should be taken only if there is severe breast pain. If breast pain persists, see a doctor A doctor will exam the breasts. If the doctor detects a breast lump or an unusual thickening in breast tissue, he or she will likely recommend mammography and possibly ultrasound to evaluate the area. The cause of the pain could be breast cancer in that case.

Things You'll Need

  • Sports bra
  • Doctor
  • Motrin
  • Advil
  • Tylenol
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Hot or cold compressor
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