We talk a lot about changes to the breast that seem to come from nowhere - discolorations or discharge that happen out of the blue. There are also some external reasons for changes in the breast like breast trauma. Trauma can range from the expected (post-surgery) to the unexpected (sports impact injury).
Sometimes it’s hard to tell how quickly an injury or wound should heal, or how great a discomfort (or pain) is reasonable relative to the trauma. Measuring that would be personal based on one’s own body and how big the injury originally was - in other words, measuring is almost too difficult to do. There are occasions when everything heals up just fine - great! But breast trauma can also result in pain, redness, swelling, bloody discharge, or even a lump in the affected area.
This is where primary care physicians are useful - so be sure to use them! They can help assess if, for instance, bruising is dissipating in a healthy way or not. They can also recommend you to a radiologist for imaging if, for instance, the lump behind an animal scratch turns out to have nothing to do with the scratch at all (we’ve literally seen that happen).
Not only should your healthcare provider be able to help distinguish the abnormal from the normal, you probably will too. You may, for instance, be familiar with your own pain tolerance and be able to determine if it’s great pain you’re just putting aside or if it’s truly a mild discomfort. You will also have this in your knowledge arsenal: you know what’s unusual because you’ve been doing your monthly self-exams (right? right?!) and have a sense of where the natural state of your breast tissue is. Of course, you don’t know everything without consulting a doctor or nurse practitioner but you will be able to furnish them with helpful information.
Whatever the cause of the trauma, the need to evaluate is paramount. Just because you don’t have bones to break doesn’t mean there isn’t tissue capable of being damaged. And the path to healing should be started off on the right foot: with an assessment of the damage and the progression of healing.
And for the record - breast trauma does not increase your risk of breast cancer, so breathe easy, be strong and take care!
Originally posted 6/19/13 on mammographykc.com.