Pain under your left breast may be caused due to various reasons ranging from a minor ailment to life-threatening conditions. The body has vital organs on its left side such as the heart, pancreas, stomach, spleen, and intestine. Additionally, there are left kidney, left lungs, and left breast that lies higher towards the left side than its right counterparts. When you suffer pain under your left breast, then you may be suffering discomfort in any of these parts of the body. The medical conditions that may cause pain may be gastrointestinal, cardiac, or musculoskeletal. An injury to the left side of the body may cause inflammation of the muscles or bones, cartilage or ligaments in the chest which may cause pain or severe consequences. When there is a sudden dull pain under left breast, then it may not be a great concern. However, if the pain persists or increases, it may raise alarm and require immediate treatment.
Unexpected pain that occurs under your left breast may be caused due to numerous problems like digestion and heart attack. While some ailments can be treated at home, some may require immediate advice from a doctor. In this article, we will learn about the causes of pain under left breast, their symptoms, and treatments in detail.
Causes of Pain Under Left Breast
A. Chest and Heart
1. Heart Attack
The heart is positioned slightly towards the left of the middle line of the upper body. Thus pain under the left breast may indicate a heart attack or a heart problem. According to the American Heart Association, when people suffer pain under the left breast, the first thing that comes to the mind is the heart attack. It commonly happens in the center of the heart and lasts for several minutes before fading. The pain might be recurring. Pain caused due to heart attack usually feels like a crushing pressure or squeezing sensation under the left breast. It can cause a strong and uncomfortable feeling altogether. Sometimes it may feel like heartburn. This type of pain is quite common among women, and people suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Nausea or vomiting
- Profuse sweating
- Breathing shortness
- Weak shoulders and arms
- Sever pain traveling from arm, jaw, neck, back, and other parts of the body
- Strong anxiety or impending doom.
When a person is suspected to suffer from a heart attack, they must immediately call the ambulance. The doctor might suggest a heart surgery. Angioplasty is a type of treatment that involves the insertion of a balloon to clean out the blocked coronary artery. It is also called as unclogging of the artery. A stent opens the artery. Coronary bypass surgery takes the healthy blood vessels from other parts of the body and implants it to the obstructed artery. This process is also known as “bypass” surgery.However, while waiting for immediate health treatment, the patients might be recommended to take aspirin up to 300mg. Aspirin is suggested only when the pain is intolerant. It thins the blood and improves the blood flow.
Taking up a healthy diet is the best way to prevent heart attacks. The diet must be rich in omega 3 fatty acids, low-fat dairy products, fruits, whole grains, lean meat, and vegetables. The main aim is to maintain a healthy weight and prevent high blood pressure and high cholesterol. As suggested by The American Heart Association, undertaking mild physical activities to prevent symptoms of heart attack is necessary. A 30 minute walk per day for 5 days every week is enough to lower the chances of heart problems. ACE inhibitors also decrease the blood pressure along with reducing the workload on the heart. Statins lower the cholesterol level and plaque build-up on the artery walls.
The heart is protected by a thin membrane. The membrane is a thin layer of fluid that is called pericardium. Pericarditis occurs due to inflammation of the pericardium. Pain under your left breast occurs when the inflamed membrane rubs against the wall of the heart. The inflammation can be severe due to an infection or disorder of the immune system such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, chest injury, or heart attack. Other possible causes of pericarditis are kidney failure, accidents, heart surgery, or a certain type of medications.
- Sharp pain, stabbing pain under the left breast
- Pain in one or both shoulders
- Heart palpitation
- Weakness, nausea, weariness
- Fever and cough
- Swelling of the abdomen or legs
- Shortness of breath
- Worsening pain when taking a deep breath or while lying on the back
- Feeling light-headed while the pain persists.
Doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, antibiotics or any such OTC medicines to reduce the pain. If the pain is severe, then doctors may prescribe steroid such as prednisone. If the problem still persists, then the patient may be taken under medical monitoring.
When you are suffering acute pain, it is advised to take a rest, follow the treatments, and seek prompt medical advice. It is also recommended to wear a seat belt each time you drive and use proper protective sports equipment when you are engaged in sports activities.
Angina is a common heart problem that occurs when there is a lack of oxygen supply to the heart muscles. The heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen to its coronary artery blood supply and results in pain under the left breast.
- An uncomfortable feeling in shoulder, arms, back, jaw, or neck
- Feeling of indigestion
- Excessive sweating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
Angina is an underlying health problem that requires immediate medical attention. Doctors may prescribe ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, statins, or aspirin to thin the blood.
Ailments like Angina can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. Doctors advise undertaking mild physical activities that will ensure the free flow of oxygen to the blood. A healthy diet rich in fruits, low calories, and vegetable, low-fat dairy, and lean meat is the best to keep the cholesterol level low and avoid Angina.
4. Precordial Catch Syndrome
The Precordial catch syndrome usually occurs in young adults and children. This disorder arises when the nerves of the chest walls start pinching and get irritable. As explained by The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, this syndrome occurs when there is a severe chest injury, bad posture, or growth of the sport. The condition is harmless and people usually outgrow it as they hit the mid-20s. Although the PCS is not a life-threatening disease, it may cause sharp pain that is unbearable in children. The pain may last up to 30 minutes and may get severe.
- Bubble pop pain feeling
- Stabbing or sharp pain under the left breast
- Short-lived pain ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes
- Irritating and sense of pinching in the chest
- Pain that intensifies breathing
Doctors usually prescribe OTC medicines like acetaminophen and other common painkillers.
The patients are advised to undertake relaxation techniques that reduce anxiety. It is important to improve posture by sitting straight with head up, straightening of the back and shoulders. Deep breathing also helps in reducing the pain and relieves attack.
When the membrane surrounding the lungs and walls of the chest cavity inflames or becomes irritated, the condition is known as Pleurisy. The common reasons include bacterial infection, viral infection, flu, or bacterial pneumonia.
- Pain in the chest while breathing
- Shallow breathing
- Pain under the left breast
The doctor may give OTC medication like ibuprofen, Tylenol, Advil or other pain relievers.
Applying ice packs, compression on the chest and taking rest is the best way to prevent symptoms of pleurisy.
Costochondritis refers to pain in the chest wall due to inflammation in the costal cartilages that joins the ribs with the breast bones. Costochondral junctions may also inflame due to a viral, fungal, bacterial respiratory infection. Costochondritis generally affects women more than men. Costochondritis occurs after the age of 40. The causes may include rib cage injury, heavy lifting, infection, or arthritis. Experts reveal that there is no detectable cause to the ailment.
- Pain under left breast when touched
- Pain that worsens with coughing and sneezing
- Aching pain that is sharp and stabbing
Doctors usually prescribe OTC pain relievers, anti-inflammatory, or steroids for this type of pain.
Bed rest followed by heat and cold compression therapy helps in relieving the pain. It is advised to avoid weight lifting, manual labor, running or other strenuous activities.
7. Chest injuries
Any shock to the chest caused by severing accident, rib cage injury, playing sports, fall, car accidents result in severe pain under left breast. Blunt force traumatizes the chest cavity and causes inflammatory intercostal muscles. The breast bones may develop cracks or get bruised. Pain usually occurs due to overstretching of intercostal muscles in the chest region. Severe damage to the rib cage also leads to pain on left side under breast radiating to back and punctures the spleen and liver.
- Inflammation in the area blown by injury
- Pain while deep breathing
- Dull pain under left breast radiates back
- Pain while twisting
Doctors usually prescribe OTC pain-relieving medication.
Deep breathing helps in preventing the risk of suffering from pneumonia and shallow breathing. It is also advised to wear a seat belt while driving and use of protective sports equipment while engaging in sports activities.
B. Digestive causes
The stomach is a muscular organ that lies towards the left upper quadrant of the abdomen. When there is inflammation of the lining of the stomach, it is medically known as gastritis. The linings of the stomach may get inflamed or feel irritated due to infections caused by pathogens. The bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori may be the main reason behind gastritis. It is transmitted due to contaminated water, or food. Can constipation cause pain under left breast? Well, yes! Gastritis may cause abdominal discomfort, abdominal bloating, severe stomach infection and black tarry stools.
- Pain under left breast gas
- Vomiting or nausea
- A feeling of fullness in the abdomen
- Feeling of pain in the upper left portion of the body
- Pain under left breast after eating
- Heartburn or bloating
- Feeling sick
Doctors may advise taking antacids in case of mild symptoms. However, if the pain persists due to bacterial infection, you may be given antibiotics to reduce acid in the stomach.
- Reducing alcohol intake
- Eating a smaller portion of meals
- Cutting out dairy products, fried and spicy food, caffeinated drinks
- Giving up tobacco smoking
- Reduce high intake of OTC anti-inflammatory, anti-steroidal drugs
- Eating food rich in fiber and plant nutrients
- Adding herbs to diet and using cloves after a meal.
The pancreas is stuck in the stomach. It is the inflammation of the pancreas that occurs when the digestive enzymes get activated inappropriately while still in the pancreas and cause irritability.
- Dull pain under left breast radiates back
- Upper abdominal pain
- Vomiting and nausea
- Oily stool
- Rapid pulse
- Frequent or prolonged pain under the left breast
Chronic pancreatitis can be cured using medication or surgery. Immediate treatment includes:
- Intravenous fluids to help with hydration. This ensures good blood flow in other parts of the body.
- Fasting for 24-48 hours, followed by a high-calorie diet to support healing
- Anti-nausea pain medication
- Surgery to remove gallstones.
Doctors recommend abstinence from tobacco, alcohol, and fatty diet to prevent chronic pancreatitis. Following a healthy diet can help.
When you eat food and the digestive juices travel back up the food pipe, it causes a burning sensation in the throat and mid-chest. This gives rise to pain under left breast. When the digestive acid eats into the lining of the windpipe, it may be mistaken for heart attack.
- Sharp burning pain in the chest
- Tightness in the chest
- Sour taste in the mouth
- Pain under left breast after eating
- Pain occurs while lying down
- The feeling of a small amount of regurgitation rising up through the throat
- Bitter taste in the mouth
Doctors may prescribe OTC antacids. They may also prescribe acid-reducing or acid-blocking medications. However, you can naturally cure heart burns with baking soda as well. Mixing 1 teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of water helps in relieving heartburn symptoms.
Heartburns are usually caused due to regular intake of a fatty diet, spicy food, caffeine, alcohol, garlic, carbonated drinks, and a substantial change in the diet. Elevating the head of the bed can also reduce the exposure of the esophagus to stomach acids.
Pain under left breast can also occur due to gas in the digestive tract, which is referred to as flatulence. People often use a straw while having drinks or eat food without giving enough time for chewing. This often results in swelling of the stomach and the digestive tract due to the presence of excess air in the body and may lead to flatulence. Certain foods also lead to excessive gas. Sometimes the gas is trapped in the flexures or the bends of the intestines. Splenic flexure or left colic flexure syndrome refers to the trapping of gas at the end of the transverse colon. Gas trapped in the splenic flexure causes pain in the upper abdominal area. The pain may even radiate towards the chest and give rise to chest pain.
- Pain in the abdomen
- Chest pain
- Swelling in the intestine that leads to bloating
- Uncomfortable ache under the left breast
- Sharp pain
Many home remedies are effective in treating flatulence. Chamomile tea and ginger effectively help in reducing bloating and release gas from the body. Additionally, doctors may prescribe OTC medicine to reduce pain and release of gas.
It is advised to stop eating fatty foods, and carbonated drinks. You must also avoid gas forming foods like beans, broccoli, and milk. Moreover, it is also important to chew your food well to avoid bloating.
5. Hiatal Hernia
Hiatal Hernia is a problem that occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. When this happens, the digestive acid refluxes into the esophagus. Since the stomach is located on the upper left part of the body, you are likely to face severe pain under the left breast.
- Pain that feels like a heart attack
- Trouble while swallowing food
- Inability to pass gas or stool
- Chest discomfort while lying
Medications are prescribed to neutralize and prevent stomach acid. Doctors might recommend surgery to reposition the stomach into the abdominal cavity as well.
Obesity is the major cause of Hiatal hernia. Additionally, people must avoid smoking. Limiting the amount of caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, spicy and fried foods, tomato, etc. can also help in reducing the risk.
C. Other Causes
1. Spleen Injury
Spleen is a vital organ that primarily works to filter blood. Any injuries to the spleen due to accidents, athletic injuries, beating or falling may lead to pain under the left breast. Additionally, enlarged spleen due to virus attacks like mononucleosis may make the spleen susceptible to injury. When the spleen is ruptured, there might be blood leakage into the abdominal cavity.
- Tenderness in the upper left body
- Dizziness and drop in blood pressure
- Tight abdominal muscles
- Internal bleeding
- Anemia or extreme tiredness
Doctors suggest surgery to repair or remove the damaged spleen. However, spleen helps in protecting the body by fighting infection, thus it is recommended to repair the spleen and let it heal on its own. Blood transfusion may be required in case of excessive internal bleeding. Doctors may undertake imagery tests like CT scan, MRI scan, ultrasound, or blood tests.
Wearing seatbelts and protective sports equipment while engaging in strenuous activities is the best way to prevent spleen injury. Cutting down on alcohol is also recommended to avoid spleen damage.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that leads to inflammation of the lung’s airspace. Streptococcus pneumonia is a bacterium that is commonly behind the lung infection.
- Pain in under left breast
- Muscular pain
- Build-up of gas
- A cough
- Shortness of breath
Pneumonia can be life-threatening. Thus, it is recommended to immediately visit a doctor if the condition becomes severe.
Pneumonia is a bacterial infection, thus there are no preventive measures to avoid this ailment. However, taking medication and rest properly may lessen down the severity of pneumonia.
Too much stress is not good for health. Stress may contribute to many factors that lead to pain in the left breast. Stress can cause pain under any part of the rib cage and may get severe. When there is stress, the muscles tighten up and results in aches and pain in the chest.
- Pain in chest
- Frequent colds
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Rigidity in chest muscle
Stress can be treated well at home. Use herbs like chamomile tea, bergamot, ginger, lavender, and other pain-relieving herbs in your regular diet.
Avoid taking too much stress and go for mild physical activities. You can prevent stress through deep breathing exercises as well.
4. Panic attack
Panic attacks are also a major cause of pain under the left breast. It is more or less connected to stress. As the pain is severe and under the left breast, people may mistake it for a heart attack or angina. Panic attacks may occur due to spasm in the digestive tracts, hyperventilation, or sudden high blood pressure.
- Severe pain under the breast
- Increased heart rate
- The rise in blood pressure
To avoid panic attacks, it is important to cure stress. Once you learn to control anxiety, you can treat panic attacks as well. It can be further cured by taking pain-relieving herbs that induce calmness to the body.
Prevent taking high sodium diet and go for deep breathing exercises.
5. Breast Cancer
Around 90% of breast lumps are not associated with breast cancer, but they can be painful. Similarly, not all breast pain can be related to breast cancer. However, whenever a new lump is formed, it may be very painful and lead to severe pain under the left breast. On rare occasions, the pain can be under your right breast as well.
- Lumps in the breast
- Sharp pain in the breast
- Coughing up blood
- Chest infection
- Pain under left breast when touched
Breast cancer can be treated medically only. You might undergo breast removal surgery or lump removal surgery followed by chemotherapy.
Avoid wearing underwire bras and tight fitting undergarments.
6. During pregnancy
Sometimes, during pregnancy, you may feel soreness in your abdomen that leads to minor pain under the left breast. Often the kicking and punching of the baby may put extra pressure on the abdomen. The pain worsens when you bend forward. With the growth of the baby, there are changes in the structure of internal organs which may lead to pain.
- Stabbing pain in the chest
- Pain in abdomen
- Pain under left breast when bending over
- Stomach acid reflex
There is no particular treatment except taking some OTC prescribed antacid or painkiller. You must avoid taking medicines without consulting the doctor.
Take rest and avoid spicy or fried food.
When should you see a doctor?
When you are facing severe pain under your left breast, you must immediately see a doctor. According to doctors, sudden chest pains, and pains that cannot be cured by home remedies indicates severe health condition. You must immediately consult a doctor under circumstances like the following:
- If you are having a feeling of tightness, pressure or crushing in the chest
- The pain spreads from the upper abdomen to the jaw, neck, back, and shoulders
- Sudden pains that are severe and lasts longer than a minute
- Pain in lower and upper chest while you are resting
- You have fever, cough and spit green color mucus along with pain
- When you suffer dizziness, vomiting, nausea, and rapid heartbeat.
- Change in the color of your stool- oily, bloody, or tarry
- Trouble in breathing and restlessness
- When you have tried all the below, but still the pain persists:
- Hot and cold compress
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
- Relaxation techniques
- Dietary changes
- Lifestyle changes
- OTC pain reliever medicines
Pain under the left breast may be frightening as it can be life-threatening. As several vital organs are structured in the left part of the body, it is important to take immediate action when you suffer dull pain as well. The earlier the causes are diagnosed, better are the chances that the treatment can be carried out effectively. Out of all the causes, a heart attack is the major cause of pain under the left breast. Studies show that most people suffer a heart attack due to panic attacks and stress. It is important to check the symptoms and consult the doctor immediately.
Following a healthy diet, change in lifestyle, cutting down tobacco and alcohol, keeping weight control, and reducing stress can help you from avoiding major causes of pain under the breast.