Tingling Feeling in the Breast: Causes and Remedies

It has been observed that almost 30 to 50% of all the women experience at least one episode of moderate to severe pain or tingling in the breast during entire lifetime. In most cases, the pain disappear gradually or incidentally without any management; however a small percentage develop persistent and long standing breast pain. Pain in the breast (also known as mastalgia in more scientific terms) may occur alone or may be associated with symptoms like swelling, lump, discharge, redness, edema and other similar features. Here are a few most common causes of tingling in the breast.

Causes of Tingling in Breast

Following lists some of the most common causes of tingling sensation in the breast that may be associated with pain and other symptoms:

1. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes during, before or after the menstrual period affects the tissue and fluid concentration of the breast tissue and may lead to pain, discomfort and feeling of heaviness in the chest. Same factors are responsible for pain in the breasts during pregnancy as a result of growth and development of glandular tissue of breast under the influence of estrogen and progesterone in an attempt to prepare the mammary glands for lactation.

2. Breast Trauma

Trauma or direct injury to breast tissue can also lead to pain and tingling sensation due to cyst formation, pressure changes as a result of inflammatory response or moderate to severe damage to the connective tissue or muscular elements of breast.

3. Breast Surgery

Various cosmetic procedures like breast reduction, breast augmentation and other reconstructive surgeries can lead to mild nerve damage as part of the procedure that may be transient in most cases; however, depending upon the degree of nerve damage, the symptoms may be permanent. Sometimes, the post-surgical inflammatory process can also lead to tingling sensation that may extend up to arm-pits, anterior chest wall or towards the shoulder region.

4. Nerve Damage

Nerve damage may be a consequence of severe trauma or penetrating injury to breast tissue, or iatrogenic injury during breast reconstructive surgery that may lead to abnormal sensations and burning and tingling sensation (that is most pronounced around nipples or areola).

5. Medications

Certain medications like anti-depressants are highly associated with the tingling or discomfort in the breast tissue due to aberrations in the hormonal concentration of some hormones. In addition, any other medication (like birth control pills, post- menopausal hormone replacement therapy) or any other hormonal agent may also induce pain and discomfort.

7. Common Cold

Common cold (especially during winter season) can lead to mild pain, tingling, discomfort and hyperesthesia that may be transient and is most commonly reported in women in their 30s.

6. Fatty Tissue Imbalance

Physiological or pathological changes in the anatomical composition or structure of breast can also lead to mastalgia; thereby producing the symptoms of hypersensitivity to touch, irritability and pressure symptoms in the breast.

7. Breast Cancer

Tumor growth inside the breast tissue can lead to appearance of a lump, edema of breast, thickening of overlying skin, involvement of surrounding lymph nodes, nipple inversion and discharge from the nipple that may be bloody or pus like. In certain situations, the first or primary symptom of breast cancer is tingling sensation due to Paget disease or metastasis of cancer cells to the nipple and skin, leading to severe and aggressive disease.

8. Costochondritis

Costochondritis (refers to inflammation of the costal cartilages that connects rib to the axial skeleton) can also produce symptoms of pain, tingling, irritation and burning that may be severe depending upon the degree of inflammation.

Symptoms of Tingling in Breast

Symptoms of tingling sensation in the breast are broadly classified as:

1. Cyclic Symptoms

Cyclic symptoms as the name suggests are related to the menstrual cycles and have these characteristics:

  • Moderate to severe pain in the breast that may be sharp or dull
  • Swelling and lumpiness of breasts
  • Involvement of upper and outer quadrants more and radiation of pain to involve underarm and lateral chest wall
  • Affecting young adult women (in 20s and 30s) and at or around menopause (in mid 40s)
  • The symptoms are most severe just before and at the start of menstruation and gradually decrease in intensity as the cycle progresses.

2. Non-Cyclic Symptoms

The symptoms are not associated with menstrual cycle and may have an abrupt onset. In addition, cyclical variations in the intensity of pain is also absent. Other important features include:

  • Pain is mostly burning in character (or throbbing in case of ongoing inflammation)
  • Constant or persistent pain that may aggravate with touch, pressure or excessive movement of upper trunk
  • It may be localized or may involve other parts of the body
  • It may involve one breast and occasionally both breasts

Remedies for Tingling in Breast

Tingling in the breast may be managed by lifestyle modifications and other simple behavioral changes. If you are experiencing mild and occasional tingling in the breast, you may employ these home remedies for quick relief:

  • Heaviness of breast as a result of edema, fluid accumulation and fatty changes may lead to stretching of breast capsular connective tissue. Wearing a supportive bra (or sports bra) can lessen the intensity of symptoms.
  • Heat pads or warm compresses is helpful in cyclical breast pain (avoid heat or excessive skin contact if the symptoms are due to inflammation, abscess or infection.
  • Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants and avoid excessive intake of red meat.
  • Consume Vitamin E and calcium supplements.
  • Limit the intake of salt, coffee, alcohol and high fat diets.