Causes of Pain Above the Breast

Many conditions or injuries can cause pain above the breasts. According to the Family Doctor website, chest pain, including pain above the breasts, can signal a serious underlying condition. However, some causes of pain above the breasts are benign and self-resolve or may be treated with conservative methods. Musculoskeletal problems are a common source of pain above the breasts, although individuals may easily overlook them.

Clavicular Fracture

A fractured clavicle or collarbone can cause pain above the breast. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, or AAOS, a broken clavicle is a common injury among children and athletes. One of the most common causes of clavicular fractures among babies is the birthing process. Falling on an outstretched hand is a common cause of clavicular fracture among teens and adults.

The AAOS states that, because the clavicle does not fully harden until the age of 20, children and young athletes can injure this bone from a direct blow or fall. Common signs and symptoms associated with a clavicular fracture include pain on the affected side above the breast, a shoulder that sags forward and down, an inability to lift the affected-side arm, an observable deformity over the fracture site and a grinding sensation in the involved area during attempted arm and shoulder active range of motion.

Pectoral Muscle Strain

A pectoral muscle strain can cause pain above the breast. The Sports Injury Clinic website states that the pectoralis major muscle is a powerful, fan-shaped muscle that's situated on the front of the chest. The pectoralis major muscle runs from the collarbone and breastbone to the humerus or arm bone and is responsible for bringing the arm toward the body and rotating it inward.

A strained pectoralis major muscle can be caused in two ways: direct trauma to the muscle and chronic overuse of the muscle. Direct trauma to the pectoralis major muscle often occurs in contact sports, such as football, hockey and rugby. An overuse injury causes the pectoralis major muscle fibers or tendons to tear. Common signs and symptoms associated with a pectoral muscle strain include pain in the chest area above the breast, swelling and bruising at the injury site, muscle weakness and problems moving the arm across the body.

Costochondritis

Costochondritis can cause pain above the breast. According to MayoClinic.com, costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that links a rib to the breastbone or sternum. Sharp pain at the point where the ribs join the sternum is one of the hallmarks of costochondritis. It's common for the pain of costochondritis to mimic the pain of a heart attack or other heart problem. In most cases, notes MayoClinic.com, there is no specific cause of costochondritis.

Costochondritis treatment usually attempts to ease a person's pain until the condition self-resolves. Common signs and symptoms associated with costochondritis include sharp or gnawing pain and tenderness at the costosternal joints, pain when breathing in deeply and coughing and breathing difficulties. Certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of costochondritis, such as being female and being over the age of 40.

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