Having pain around the chest area is often a cause for concern as there is a possibility that it is a symptom of a serious health condition. There are many structures and organs under your right breast, such as gallbladder, right kidney, muscles, part of the lung and liver. The common causes of pain under right breast include hormonal changes, heartburn, trapped gas, and stress. However, there are also possible causes that require immediate medical attention.
Common Causes of Sharp Pain Under Right Breast
Here are some possible health conditions that cause pain or discomfort under your right breast.
1. Stress or Anxiety
When under psychological or emotional stress, you could experience mild or sharp pain under right breast. Some people may experience it under the left breast. Stress affects the body’s digestive system, heart rate and blood pressure and causes nerves and muscles to tense up.
Having an anxiety attack could also cause discomfort around the chest area as it causes the nerves and muscles in the chest to tighten. To alleviate stress or anxiety-related pain, you can try some breathing exercises, yoga, and essential oils for relief.
2. Trapped Gas
Most people expel gas at least 10 times a day. However, trapped gas in the intestines can cause pain when you are not able to pass it. The pain may be so intense or constant that it can be mistaken for gallstones, heart disease or appendicitis. The common signs and symptoms of gas pain include:
- Involuntary or voluntary expelling of gas
- Cramps, sharp, jabbing pains or knotted feeling in the abdominal area
Call your doctor in case of severe or persistent gas pain accompanied by bloody stools, vomiting and weight loss.
Another possible cause of pain under right breast is heartburn. This condition is described as a burning sensation in the chest and the pain gets worse when bending over or lying down. Most people manage the symptoms of heartburn with over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes.
However, recurring heartburn that interferes with your daily tasks may be a symptom of another health condition. See your doctor for proper diagnosis and prompt treatment, especially if you have persistent nausea, difficulty swallowing, and weight loss.
A viral infection that causes painful rashes, shingles usually appear as a stripe or stripes of blisters that wrap around the right or left side of your torso. This condition is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you have had chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in your nerve tissue and may get triggered as shingles. The common signs and symptoms include:
- Red rashes that begin a few days after discomfort or pain
- Burning, numbness, pain or tingling sensation
- Sensitivity to touch
You may also experience headache, fever, sensitivity to touch, and fatigue. If you suspect that you have shingles, see your doctor immediately. The virus can pass to anyone who is not yet immune to chickenpox.
5. Rib Injury
Your rib cage protects the organs in your chest. Any kind of trauma to your rib cage, such as a crush injury from an accident or a fracture from a direct blow can cause pain around the affected area. It can also lead to tenderness and bruising. The pain under right breast may feel worse when taking deep breaths, sneezing or coughing.
For such injuries, it is best to seek medical attention immediately to prevent further problems that may affect your other organs.
6. Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in women. The common signs and symptoms of breast cancer are:
- Change in the shape, size or appearance of your breast
- Distinct lump or swelling of the breast
- Nipple or breast pain
- Nipple discharge
- Scaliness, redness or thickening of the breast skin or nipple
In some cases, a breast cancer spreads to lymph nodes around the collarbone or under the arm and result in swelling or lump. If you experience any of the symptoms, visit a professional right away for an early diagnosis and prompt treatment.
Costochondritis, also known as chest wall pain, costosternal chondrodynia or costosternal syndrome, is an inflammation of the cartilage near the rib cage and breastbone. There are different reasons why people may develop this condition. Some of the usual causes are repetitive strain to the breastbone while there are also some who develop this because they have a flu virus or they are constantly coughing. If the chest area will be strained, there is a bigger chance of acquiring this condition. You will know if you are suffering from this condition if the pain increases while you are coughing or sneezing.
The pain can range from mild to excruciating and may cause constant shooting pains that interfere with your daily routine. In most cases, this condition goes away within several weeks. Other symptoms of Costochondritis may include:
- Pressure-like, aching or sharp pain on either side of the breastbone
- Radiating pain to the abdomen or back
- Pain gets worse when you move, breathe deeply or stretch
Seek immediate medical assistance if you experience severe and persistent pain.
8. Kidney Stones
The kidneys filter waste from your blood and create urine. When minerals and salts in your urine stick together, they form small or big kidney stones. There are a lot of stones that will pass through the urinary tract with ease because they are small but there are also some that may be hard to pass because they have grown too big.
They are usually unnoticed unless they cause pain and blockage. If recognized early, stones do not cause permanent damage. You will need to drink plenty of water to flush out kidney stones from your urinary system. This can be removed through surgery or by taking medications that will make the stones stuck in the kidney to become smaller.
You may experience other symptoms of kidney stones:
- Red, pink or brown urine
- Severe pain below the ribs
- Pain that radiates to your groin and lower abdomen
- Pain when urinating, foul-smelling urine
- Urinating more often
See your doctor immediately if the pain is severe, accompanied by nausea or vomiting, fever, difficulty passing urine or blood in urine.
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura – a membrane lining that protects the lungs. This condition can be caused by a viral, bacterial or fungal infection, certain medication, autoimmune disorder, rib fracture, or other diseases.
The main reason why this condition is called pleurisy is because the lung and chest area is called “pleura.” Similar to Costochronditis, the pain brought about by this condition may be increased whenever there is any type of movement. For example, if you would try to breathe deeply and this causes pain, you may have this condition.
The other symptoms of pleurisy may include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Pain that worsens when you cough, breathe or sneeze
- Fever or cough in some cases
If you experience intense or unexplained chest pain while breathing, call your doctor immediately. This could be a sign of a problem with your lungs, pleura, heart or other illness that require prompt medical attention.
Pancreas, located behind your stomach at the left side of your body, plays an important role in digestion and endocrine function. It produces insulin, hormones and other important enzymes that help the body break down foods.
There are different reasons why pancreatitis may occur. Some of the common reasons are infections, or it may also be an effect of stones that are stuck in the gallbladder that has been left untreated. People who have always been drinking alcohol may also suffer from the condition.
The common symptoms of acute pancreatitis include:
- Upper abdominal pain that may radiate to your back
- Abdominal pain becomes worse after eating
- Nausea, vomiting, fever
- Tenderness in the abdominal area
The symptoms of chronic pancreatitis may include smelly stools and unintended weight loss. If you have persistent abdominal pain, see your doctor immediately for clear diagnosis.
The gallbladder is a small organ responsible for storing bile produced in the liver while it is not yet used for digesting fatty foods. When infection occurs, it causes inflammation and may result in pain under right breast. Some symptoms of cholecystitis include:
- Severe pain in the upper right abdomen
- Pain radiates to back or right shoulder
- Tenderness over the abdomen
- Nausea, vomiting or fever
If left untreated, this condition can lead to serious or life-threatening condition. Visit your doctor for proper diagnosis and immediate treatment.
12. Cholelithiasis (Gallbladder Stones)
Another gallbladder disease that may cause pain under your right breast is cholelithiasis. This occurs when the bile, which contains cholesterol, pigments, and salts, crystalizes and create gallstones. There are times when some stones would start to appear in the gallbladder mainly because of your diet. Take an honest look at your current diet. What are the food products that you love eating? Do you eat a lot of fast food? Perhaps the last time that you have included greens in your diet is a long time ago.
The common symptoms may include:
- Sudden intensifying pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen
- Pain in the right shoulder or between shoulder blades
- Nausea or vomiting
See your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms of gallstones, especially when accompanied by high fever and yellowing of the skin.
13. Hiatal Hernia
Hiatal hernia can also cause pain under right breast. This is known as the protrusion of a part of the stomach especially when part of the esophagus is larger than its normal size. The protrusion may be close to the chest area which explains why there is pain felt under the right breast. A small hiatal hernia do not usually cause problems but a large one can allow acid and food to go back up into the esophagus. Some signs and symptoms of large hiatal hernias include:
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal or chest pain
- Feel bloated after eating
- Difficulty swallowing
- Passing black stools or vomiting blood
For proper diagnosis, it is best to visit your doctor. A hiatal hernia can be diagnosed with an X-ray that uses a barium swallow or with endoscopy.
Another possible cause of pain under right breast is mastitis, which is an infection of the breast tissue that causes swelling, pain, redness and warmth. This condition commonly affects breastfeeding women, but may also occur in women who are not nursing. The signs and symptoms of mastitis may include:
- Breast swelling
- Feeling ill or fever of 38.3 C (101F)
- Warm or breast tenderness
- Burning sensation or pain while breastfeeding
- Skin redness
As soon as you recognize the symptoms of mastitis, contact your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
If you have been working out or performing extensive physical activities, pain under right breast may resolve with enough rest and home remedies. However, if you had a serious respiratory problem or you have been involved in a physical trauma, it is best to visit your doctor immediately. Depending on the assessment, tests may include urine examination, blood tests, and imaging exams like X-ray, MRI, ultrasound or CT scan.