Women with large breasts often blame the extra weight on their chests for upper back pain. Sometimes large breasts are a factor and sometimes they aren’t. If you have upper back pain, there are steps you can take to relieve it. One of those steps might be . But there are others that don’t involve surgery.
It’s worth making an effort to understand all of the possible causes of your back pain, and trying out some simpler remedies may help you avoid surgery. Of course, you may have other reasons to consider breast reduction surgery — to enable a more active lifestyle, for example, or to bring the contours of your body into better balance.
What Is the Connection Between Large Breasts and Back Pain?
Large breasts exert a gravitational force on the chest, and that force must be balanced by muscles that keep the back and neck straight and the shoulders pulled back. If you have D-cup breasts, their combined weight is probably between 16 and 24 pounds. For some women, that weight can lead to muscle strain and chronic pain in the shoulders, neck, or upper back.
Your posture can also be affected by large breasts, which may cause your back and shoulders to curve forward, adding to back strain and discomfort. The discomfort that builds over time may come from muscle fatigue, or it might be from a self-conscious effort to make your breasts appear less prominent.
Your bra may be a factor, too. If your bra is too tight or the shoulder bands too narrow, the straps can dig into your skin. You might subconsciously adjust your posture in unhealthy ways in an attempt to find relief from an ill-fitting bra.
Finally, large breasts can make it more difficult to get the exercise you need to manage your weight, build muscle strength in your back and shoulders, and improve flexibility in your torso. The pressure your breasts place on your chest cavity can also make it more difficult to breathe deeply while exercising, causing you to become winded more easily.
Steps You Can Take to Address Breast-Related Back Pain
Shop for a well-fitted bra. You want a bra that supports your breasts but isn’t too tight. And you want one with wide shoulder straps to spread the pressure. If you can’t find a well-fitted and comfortable bra from your usual stores, extend your search to sports bras or consider being fitted for a customized bra. The right bra can make a huge difference in your comfort.
Lose weight (if you have some to lose). When you’re overweight, you’re likely to have extra fat in your breasts and your abdomen, increasing the gravitational pull that your back has to counter. Sometimes, the solution to upper back pain is sustainable weight loss with healthy eating and regular physical activity.
Strengthen the muscles in your core. Exercise has all kinds of health benefits, from weight management to heart health. Exercises that strengthen the muscles in your core — your back, abdomen, and shoulders — can improve your posture and reduce back pain. A physical therapist or personal trainer can teach you exercises that address your specific needs. You might try yoga, which can help build strength and flexibility in ways that reduce back pain. Pilates is another exercise system that focuses on building up your core.
If you’re near your ideal weight and still have back pain after trying the remedies listed above, you might consider breast reduction surgery. The procedure isn’t specifically aimed at eliminating back pain, but many women find relief of their back problems. It’s a way to bring your body contours into better balance, free yourself to become more physically active, improve your posture, and help you feel better about yourself. By reducing the strain on your back and shoulders, breast reduction surgery often has the effect of addressing upper back pain.
Choose a Chicago Plastic Surgeon You Can Trust
Dr. Florence Mussat is a board-certified plastic surgeon in downtown Chicago with extensive experience in breast surgery, including breast reduction and breast implant removal. Call our office at (312) 751-9000 today or contact us online to schedule a personal consultation.