Overview

Some women may experience a sharp pain under their right breast that comes and goes. Others may experience it every time they take a breath. Sometimes this pain radiates into the back, armpit, or up to the breastbone.

Most often, this pain is no cause for concern. But in some cases, it can indicate an underlying condition. Read on to learn more.

Causes of pain under your right breast

The possible underlying conditions associated with pain under the right breast are similar to pain under the left breast, with some exceptions. For example, the right side isn’t as closely associated with heart attacks. This is because the heart is a little more on the left side and center of the chest.

Some common causes associated with pain under or near the right breast include:

Pleurisy

Pleurisy is inflammation of the lining of your chest, outside of your lungs. If the right lung is affected, then you’ll feel pain on the right side of your breast.

Other symptoms include generalized chest pain and pain that’s worse with deep breaths. You may take shallow breaths to avoid worsening the pain.

Treatment depends upon the underlying cause. There are general treatment guidelines you can follow, though. They include:

  • Self-care. Get enough rest and refrain from strenuous exercise.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medications. For example, ibuprofen (Advil) can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Rib injury

A rib injury can cause pain under the right breast. Other symptoms include having one or more very tender spots and pain when taking deep breaths or twisting your body.

To treat a rib injury, your doctor will likely tell you to go easy on physical activity for a while. Avoid putting pressure on your chest as the rib heals. Fractures and bruises will typically heal in about six weeks.

Your doctor might also recommend OTC nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These include:

Hiatal hernia

Hiatal hernias occur when a hernia develops from the stomach and pushes through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. This causes stomach acid to leak into the throat, resulting in heartburn and signs of excess gas, such as belching.

To treat a hiatal hernia, your doctor may prescribe OTC or prescription-strength medications to reduce stomach acid, such as:

For some cases, your doctor may prescribe a stronger stomach acid reducer, such as rabeprazole (Aciphex) or pantoprazole (Protonix). In serious cases, your doctor may recommend surgery.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition affecting the large intestine. It causes abdominal pain, bloating, and other uncomfortable digestive symptoms.

Pain commonly occurs over the lower abdomen, but it can occur in other parts of the abdomen and radiate to adjacent areas. If you think your right breast pain is due to IBS, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Treatment of IBS involves dietary and lifestyle changes. Your doctor might also recommend any of a number of medications that best suit your particular situation, including:

Costochondritis

This condition occurs due to inflammation of rib cage cartilage between the ribs and sternum. Because costochondritis tends to manifest in the mid-chest area, near the sternum, you may experience pain under the left or right breast. Costochondritis often goes away on its own. In some cases, it may take several weeks to resolve.

To treat costochondritis, your doctor might prescribe physical therapy, one of a number of medications, or both. Medications to treat this condition include:

  • NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium in either OTC or prescription strength
  • narcotics, such as hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin) or oxycodone/acetaminophen (Percocet)
  • tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline (Endep, Elavil)
  • neuropathic pain therapy, such as gabapentin (Neurontin)

What’s the outlook?

In most cases, pain under the right breast isn’t serious. However, if the pain is severe or it persists, make an appointment with your doctor.

If you have one of the above conditions, your doctor can help prevent pain from continuing or returning and help you alleviate and manage your symptoms.