Body aches are a common symptom for many known conditions. However, chest pains could be signs of an underlying condition.
The left side of the body houses a variety of vital organs including the stomach, the heart, large intestine, and the spleen. However, under the left breast, you will find the left lung, and the left kidney, which sits higher than the right kidney.
In this article, we will discuss the causes and the available treatments for pain under the left breast. With that said, you can manage the pain at home, while for other types or causes of pain under the left breast, you should consult a doctor. You should also look at the causes and treatment options for pain under the right breast.
Doctors typically classify pain under the left breast into four categories:
- Heart-related Conditions
- Digestive Problems
- Lung Problems
Pain under the Left Breast Due To Heart Related Conditions
1. Heart Attack
Heart attacks are also known as myocardial infarction. It occurs when the oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart is completely cut down. This condition is usually caused by a blockage of the coronary arteries.
The heart is located slightly to the left of the upper body’s midline. Pain under the left breast could be a sign of a heart-related complication.
Studies from the American Heart Association, pain due to a heart attack happens towards the center of the chest. The heart attack pain lasts for a few minutes, but it is recurrent.
According to Heart.org, a heart attack can cause mild pain or discomfort. This pain then becomes sharp and intense that feels like something is squeezing your chest. It can also radiate to your left shoulder, jaw, arm, and neck.
Heart attack pains are severe, strong, crushing pressure sensation, uncomfortable, and sometimes, it can feel like heartburn. However, for people with diabetes, older people, or women, they experience mild to no heart attack pain.
If it is a heart attack, you will experience other symptoms such as:
- Vomiting or nausea
- Profuse sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Heavy, weak arms or shoulders
- A strong sense of anxiety
If you experience the above symptoms, you should immediately call an ambulance. While you wait, sit down and rest. On top of this, if you are aspirin tolerant, you should take an adult dose tablet, which is at least 300 milligrams to thin out the blood.
Other treatment options will depend on when the symptoms experienced and how soon you can get medical attention.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute warns that a heart attack is life-threatening. You should see your doctor immediately when you suffer from cardiac pain. To reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack, you should maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, limiting alcohol consumption, quit smoking, and exercise more.
2. Precordial Catch Syndrome
This syndrome is prevalent in teenagers and young adults. The precordial catch syndrome occurs when the nerves of the chest wall get irritated. This happens due to a chest injury, bad posture, or a growth spurt.
This condition can mimic the signs of a heart attack, but it is harmless. It resolves on its own, and many of the people with the condition outgrow it by the time they are 25 years old.
Doctors from the Healthline say that pericarditis can lead to sharp pains behind the sternum. Coughing or sneezing may aggravate this pain, which can also spread to your left neck and shoulder.
Other symptoms include:
- Sudden onset
- Sharp, stabbing pain mostly on the left breast
- Intense pain with deep breathing
Treatment and Self-Care
Typically, the doctor will prescribe over the counter pain medication. However, you can save the consultation fee and manage it at home by:
- Practicing relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety
- Improving posture to keep the chest cavity open and minimize irritation and pinching
- Deep breathing
Another common cause of pain under your left breast is angina. Angina happens when the arteries become narrow due to obstruction, the oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart will be reduced.
People with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or being overweight are prone to have angina. In addition, people with poor blood circulation are more likely to get angina.
According to doctors from the WebMD, angina can cause sharp pain in your chest and just below your left breast. Sometimes the pain is accompanied by a strange feeling.
Angina’s associated symptoms include:
- Uncomfortable feeling in the neck, shoulders, back or jaw
- It could also feel like indigestion
- Shortness of breath
Unfortunately, Angina is a symptom of underlying heart disease. The only treatment option would be to seek medical attention immediately you notice any of the above symptoms. In a majority of the cases, the doctor will prescribe beta-blockers, aspirin, statins, or ACE-inhibitors.
The pericardium is a thin, layered protective membrane filled with a fluid that surrounds the heart. The pericardium becomes inflamed if it is infected. The body’s immune system attacking itself can also cause the inflammation of the pericarditis.
Acute pericarditis shows the following symptoms:
- Sharp, stabbing pain under the left breast
- Pain on either or both shoulders
- Worsening pain when lying on your back or taking deep breaths
- Shortness of breath, feeling hot, feverish, sweaty, and light headed
A doctor would typically prescribe OTC anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen. On top of this, rest is recommended until the feverish symptoms dissipate.
However, if there is acute pain, the doctor may prescribe a steroid, for example, prednisone. If the condition is far more severe, you will be hospitalization for close monitoring.
With that said, acute pericarditis is not preventable. Your best option is to get treatment as soon as possible and sticking to the prescribed treatment plan will reduce your chances of developing acute pericarditis reoccurring or becoming a long-term chronic condition.
Pain in the Left Breast Due To Digestive Related Issues
The pain in your left breast could also be due to digestion related problems. These include:
Excess gas can cause pain on the left side under your breast. Our digestive tract produces gas every day, but they are usually in small amounts. However, sometimes carbonated drinks consumption or talking while eating can cause excess gas accumulation in the stomach and intestines.
Because our stomach is located on the left side of the abdomen. These trapped gas in the stomach can cause a sharp and shooting pain in your left breast.
Doctors at the Medicalnewstoday say that gas can cause bloating, a slight burning or stabbing sensation in your abdomen. However, you do not need to worry too much, the pain will go away after a period.
Gastritis is manageable at home by changing your dietary and lifestyle choices. You could also get OTC medication such as antacids to reduce the gastric acid.
Other home remedies include:
- Rather than taking huge portions of food at a go, eat smaller portions often
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Cut down or give up smoking cigarettes or any other tobacco use
- Stop eating spicy, dry, fried, or acidic foods and caffeinated drinks
- Reduce your high intake of OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Start eating foods high in plant nutrients and fiber
Gastritis can also be caused by the presence of a bacterium called Helicobacter Pylori. In such a case, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics and medicine to reduce the production of gastric acid.
This is inflammation of the pancreas, and the symptoms of acute pancreatitis include:
- Rapid pulse
- Sudden and severe pain under the left breast
- Pain in the upper center of the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
If you fail to seek treatment, the condition can become chronic. The symptoms of chronic pancreatitis are:
- Oily and pale-looking stools
- Nausea and vomiting
- Prolonged and frequent pain under the left breast that can spread to the back
With that said, pancreatitis treatment options include pain management, use of increasing dosages of medication, as well as surgery, if you are experiencing acute pain under the left breast.
The treatment options for acute pancreatitis include:
- Not eating food for anywhere between 24 and 48 hours followed by a high-calorie diet to aid in healing
- Intravenous fluids to help your body hydrate and ensure proper blood flow to the other organs
- Talking anti-nausea or intravenous pain medication
Heartburn is that burning sensation caused when stomach acid travels up the food pipe. It is also known as acid reflux. The burning sensation can be felt in the throat and mid-chest area. However, heartburn can sometimes manifest as pain under the left breast.
According to the WebMD, heartburn can cause shooting pain just below your breastbone or ribs. Other symptoms include:
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- A tight, bunting sensation in the throat, upper chest, sometimes the pain can be felt under the jaw or the left breast
- Pain under the left breast especially right after taking a meal or in the chest when lying down
The treatment options for heartburn include:
- Refraining from eating big meals
- Avoid lying down immediately after eating
- Raising your head higher than the waist when sleeping
You can also get over the counter medication such as antacids.
8. Hiatal Hernia
This condition occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm and into the chest cavity. This causes acid reflux, and since the stomach is on the upper left portion of the abdomen, the condition will cause pain under the left breast.
A hiatal hernia can lead to stomach contents travel inside the chest. You may experience dull or sharp pain under your breast.
Other symptoms of hiatal hernia include:
- Trouble swallowing
- Sharp and stabbing pain similar to that of a heart attack
- Inability to pass stool or gas
However, there are people who do not experience any symptoms.
To relieve the discomfort from a hiatal hernia, you should avoid lying down or exercising immediately after meals.
The doctor might prescribe medication to reduce, neutralize, or reduce the production of stomach acid. In an extreme case, the doctor will recommend surgery to reposition the stomach back into the abdominal cavity.
Smoking and obesity are high-risk causes of hiatal hernia. To prevent hiatal hernia, cut back on smoking with the intent to quit and manage your weight. You should also cut back on consuming huge amounts of acid producing foods.
Pain in the Left Breast Due To Lung Problems
Pleura are a protective layer surrounding the lungs. If the pleura surrounding the left lung is infected and inflamed, you will feel pain under your left breast. The pain can also be caused by lung cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.
According to doctors from Mayo clinic, pleurisy can cause sudden and severe pains in the upper abdomen when you cough or sneeze. The pain may also radiate to the area below your left breast.
Pleurisy was once a serious illness that caused the death of some historical figures, including Benjamin Franklin and Catherine de’ Medici. Nowadays, due to the use of antibiotics, pleurisy has been easily cured.
A common symptom of pleurisy is sharp stabbing pain when taking a deep breath. Other symptoms include:
- A dry cough
- Pain in the shoulders
- Shortness of breath
The pain gets worse when you sneeze, cough, or walk around.
A physician in most cases will recommend rest, preferably lying on your side for pain relief. If the pain under the left breast is particularly severe, you should seek immediate medical attention. The doctor may prescribe pain-relieving medication such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
In some occasions, the doctor may need to draw blood to run tests. He or she may also suggest doing a chest X-ray, and CT-scan. On top of this, they may need to extract a pleural lung tissue sample to conduct a biopsy.
With that said, if the pleurisy is due to a viral infection, it will get better ion a few days. However, a bacterial infection requires antibacterial therapy. If the pain under your left breast is due to lung cancer, then the best cause of action is to go for regular screening and early intervention.
Pneumonia is a lung infection caused by viral or bacterial infections in the respiratory tract. Sometimes it is also a complication of the flu.
According to doctors from the WebMD, Pneumonia could cause sharp or stabbing pains in your chest. You may experience a cough, fever and breathe hard.
If you suffer from pneumonia, you’d better go to a hospital for treatment.
Other Causes of Pain under Left Breast
Other than the digestive and heart-related problems causing pain under the left breast, other causes include:
11. Enlarged Spleen
An enlarged spleen can cause pain under the left breast. If the spleen bursts and releases its juice, it will also cause pain. Underlying conditions such as recurring liver cirrhosis and chronic liver disease may interact with and affect the spleen.
Each of these cases has distinct symptoms. The following symptoms characterize an enlarged spleen:
- Extreme tiredness and anemia
- Pain and tenderness under the left breast
- Feeling uncomfortable when eating even a small meal
- Bleeding easily
A burst spleen, on the other hand, has the following symptoms:
- Pain under the left breast or ribs with the area feeling tender when touched
- Fast heart rate
If you suspect a busted spleen, you should seek medical attention immediately, since the chance of bleeding to death are very high. For an enlarged spleen, the doctor will examine your stomach and may recommend further tests. This includes an MRI or CT scan, or an ultrasound.
The doctor will prescribe medication if the splenic or liver disease is manageable with medical therapy. However, if detected too late, the doctor will suggest you undergo surgery.
You can also damage the spleen during high impact sports. For this reason, you need to wear protective sports equipment. You should also wear a seat belt when in the car in case of an accident.
Liver cirrhosis is another cause of spleen issues and so, you should cut down on alcohol consumption.
Pregnant women can sometimes feel pain and soreness under the left breast during pregnancy. This is a result of pressure from the top part of the uterus as the baby grows, or when the baby kicks.
This pain can get worse especially when the expectant mother leans forward. As the pregnancy grows, the muscles and tissues will stretch and make the pain under the left breast worse.
With that said, the pregnant woman’s body is changing, and as the womb expands, it will push the internal organs out of place. On top of this, the woman will experience a chemical imbalance in the body.
This creates a plethora of reasons why she might experience pain under the breasts. Other causes of pain under the left breast during pregnancy include:
- Acid reflux causing heartburn
- The repositioning of the ribcage to accommodate the baby in the abdomen
13. Chest Injury or Pulled Muscles
Obviously, any kind of trauma or injuring to the chest cavity can cause pain around the injured area. This pain can range from mild to severe depending on the extent of the injury. Sometimes, the pain from a fractured or sprained rib or pulled muscle can also cause severe pain under your left breast.
In addition, inflammation of the body due or nerve damage to your chest can also lead to sharp, shooting pain in the left side of the chest.
WebMD doctors say that you need to see your doctor for a full diagnosis to rule out the possibility the pain isn’t the result of organ damage. Moreover, it is important to have enough rest and take pain relief medication, which can help accelerate the recovery of rib fractures.
Do you know that when you are under a lot of stress, you may experience some pain in your chest area?
According to doctors from the Anxietycentre.com, stress can cause muscles to tense up, this will lead to the sharp pain in the left breast. Other common symptoms of stress are insomnia, obesity, digestive problems, frequent colds, gastrointestinal problems, and cardiovascular diseases.
There are some simple ways to relieve stress effectively. You can listen to some calm music to relax your body, this can help reduce cortisol and relieve high blood pressure. Green tea contains healthy antioxidants and theanine which can help calm your nervous system. You can drink some green tea after each meal, this can also help relieve the pain caused by digestive problems.
15. Panic Attack
Panic attacks can cause pain in your chest or spasms in your digestive tract. This pain is often mistaken for a heart attack or angina because it often occurs on the left side of the chest.
In addition, panic attacks can also lead to high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat which will harm your heart health. The other symptoms include sweating, trembling, nausea, numbness or tingling sensations or shortness of breath.
There are some home remedies to get rid of panic attacks. Deep breaths can help calm your mind and body. This can remove a lot of symptoms of a panic attack. You can also drink some Chamomile. It is rich in calcium and magnesium that help ease the panic attacks.
16. Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. Many women worry their breast pain may be a sign of breast cancer.
According to Stacy Simon from the Cancer.org, the most common symptom of breast cancer is breast lumps. In most cases, it is hard and painless, but sometimes there are some lumps that are also painful and cause swelling in or around your breast, collarbone, or underarms.
The lumps around the clavicle or armpits may be caused by the spread of breast cancer into these areas. However, not all lumps are cancer. According to new cancer research, 90% of breast pain is usually not related to breast cancer.
Breast swelling can also be caused by other causes, such as inflammatory breast cancer or other benign breast diseases such as cysts. If you find a swelling lump or other change in your breast you should see your doctor immediately.
When to See a Doctor
If you or a loved one is experiencing pain in the chest especially under the left breast, you should seek immediate medical attention. The above might not be an exhaustive list of the causes of pain under the left breast, but you should see a doctor if you experience the following:
- Trouble breathing
- Pressure or tightness in the chest
- A change in your stool
- Injury to the chest
- Pain that does not ease up with rest or it starts spreading to other parts of the body
The chest houses vital organs for life and you should not leave pain under the left breast to chance. Some conditions that cause pain under the left breast do not show symptoms in some people.
This makes it necessary for you to go for regular full-body screening to catch any condition early. With that said, pain under the left breast can be managed with medication as well as making dietary and lifestyle changes.