Arm Pain Related to Breasts

Arm and chest
Arm and chest (Image: Image by, courtesy of Josh Pesavento)

Since arm pain can be related to a variety of medical conditions, it is important to be conscious of other symptoms that occur with the arm pain. For example, many women experience arm pain in conjunction with pain or tenderness in the breasts. In this case, you should speak with your doctor regarding breast conditions that may cause arm pain, which could include either cyclic or non-cyclic breast pain. Your doctor will be able to explain the severity, cause and treatment of your specific condition.

Cyclical Breast Pain

Cyclical breast pain is generally related to the second half of a woman’s monthly cycle. The pain often gets worse in the days just before menstruation begins. Cyclical breast pain is quite common. It can occur at any age after the onset of menstruation, but usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 50. The symptoms of cyclical breast pain are typically mild, although they can be quite severe in some women. Usually, women experience pain in both breasts. This pain is often felt more severely in the upper and outer parts of the breast, and it occasionally radiates to the inner part of the upper arm.


Although cyclical breast pain can be quite frustrating, it is not a serious medical condition. Treatment is commonly not needed if the symptoms are mild. Severe pain related to cyclical breast pain can be managed in a variety of ways. The breasts should be adequately supported; underwire bras are not suggested for women who suffer from cyclical breast pain. Painkillers, such as ibuprofen, can be taken on days when the pain is severe. A warm compress may also be used to relieve the pain in the breasts and arm. The compress should not be too hot, as this could cause burns to the skin. It is best to avoid placing a warm compress directly over the nipples.

Breast Cancer

Non-cyclical breast pain is not related to the woman’s monthly cycle. There are various causes for this type of breast pain, including problems with the muscles or bones in the chest. Occasionally, an infection in the breast tissue may occur, which would cause severe pain in the breast tissue. If the infection goes untreated, the infection may spread to other areas of the body, including the armpit and upper arm. Breast cancer is another cause of non-cyclical breast pain that may lead to arm pain. Breast cancer develops in the breast tissue and usually begins with the formation of a small tumor. In the early stages of breast cancer, no symptoms are prevalent. However, over time, a lump can be felt in the breast or armpit. The armpit often swells, and pain and tenderness can be felt in the breasts and along the arm.


Breast-cancer treatment depends on the size and location of the tumor in the breast. Surgery is commonly used to remove or destroy the cancerous tumor. If surgery is not a feasible option, radiation therapy may be used to destroy the cancerous cells inside the breast tissue. Chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biological therapy are all used to destroy cancer cells throughout the body. Pain can be managed through the use of medications, massage and heat therapy.


Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease. It is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. As a result, the heart muscle does not get enough blood, resulting in severe chest pain. This pain is typically described as an uncomfortable squeeze, heaviness, tightness, pressure or pain in the chest. Some people mistake this chest pain as pain in the breasts. In addition to the chest pain, patients with angina also experience pain in the arms. If you are experiencing pain in the chest or breast area, along with pain in the arms, and it has not been associated to breast cancer or any breast disease, it is important to speak with your doctor regarding the possibility of angina.

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