Breast pain in men can have a variety of causes, from muscle strains to a cyst. Some causes might require treatment but are usually harmless.
Most causes of breast pain in men are due to problems in breast tissue. These problems are usually treatable, and some will go away on their own.
This article discusses several causes of breast pain and how to treat them.
Some common conditions that may cause breast pain in men include:
Gynecomastia is a condition that causes abnormal growth and swelling in the breasts of males of all ages. The change in shape or size varies and can cause pain.
A cyst is a lump under the skin that contains fluid or air. They are usually harmless, but sometimes they become sore.
A cyst on the breast is one possible cause of pain in the area.
The pectoralis major and minor are the two main muscles that make up the chest.
Performing weighted chest exercises or putting excess pressure on the muscles can cause a strain.
Breast fat necrosis
Fat necrosis occurs where fat tissue becomes damaged. Surgery on the breasts or a biopsy can sometimes cause this damage.
Breast fat necrosis can produce a lump but is not cancerous.
Some people experience skin irritation from running. The nipple can start to chafe against a top or vest.
The chafing can cause the nipple to become sore.
The cause of a fibroadenoma is unclear, but most do not increase the risk of breast cancer.
Although it is rarer, breast cancer can occur in men.
Breast cancer causes tumors to grow on the breast or armpit, which can cause pain and soreness in the region.
Other possible causes
Problems in other areas of the body might also cause breast pain. Some examples include:
- liver disease
- heart or lung disease
- medications, such as antidepressants
- back, neck, or shoulder injuries
Some factors can increase the chances of breast pain from one of the above causes. Examples include:
- using anabolic steroids, which can increase the risk of gynecomastia
- training the chest muscles too regularly or too intensely
- running long distances without protecting the nipple
- breast surgery
In diagnosing breast pain, a doctor will first ask questions about symptoms and lifestyle. For example, they may ask about exercise habits or the use of anabolic steroids.
The doctor may perform a physical exam to assess the breast tissue. They will first want to rule out severe conditions, such as breast cancer.
Doctors look for signs of breast cancer that might include a lump or swelling on the breast or armpit. If the doctor suspects breast cancer, it will require further testing, such as a mammogram, ultrasound scan, or biopsy.
Most cases of breast pain will not be cancer, but some people may still require further testing. For example, an ultrasound or CT scan might help to diagnose a cyst or gynecomastia.
The treatment will depend on the cause of breast pain.
Treatment is not always necessary. For example, a period of rest is usually enough to treat muscle strain. According to Breast Cancer Now, breast fat necrosis will usually go away on its own.
Some causes do need treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, most doctors recommend removing a fibroadenoma. Removing the lump is usually a precaution to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Treatments for breast cancer vary depending on its type and severity. In some cases, doctors will use surgery to remove the tumor. They could also use chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill cancerous cells.
Hormone therapy is another possible treatment for breast cancer. It is also useful for treating gynecomastia.
It is not always possible to prevent the causes of breast pain. For example, it is not always clear what causes cysts or fibroadenomas.
However, some causes, such as muscle strain, are preventable. Some prevention tips include:
- avoiding high intensity chest workouts
- gradually increasing the resistance of chest exercises
- including enough rest time between chest workouts
- using lubrication or protective gear for the nipple before running
- avoiding anabolic steroids or other drugs that affect hormones where possible
Some causes of breast pain do not require a doctor. For example, muscle strain should go away on its own.
But it is worth seeing a doctor for any lumps or swelling that could be cancerous. The American Cancer Society list the following signs of breast cancer:
- swelling in some or all of a breast
- breast or nipple pain
- skin changes, such as dumpling or red and flaky areas
- unusual discharge from the nipples
- swollen lymph nodes
There are many possible causes of breast pain. Most causes are harmless, and some will go away on their own.
In rare cases, the pain could be a result of breast cancer or other serious diseases. It is essential to check for other signs of cancer and see a doctor right away in these cases.