An interesting study, published in The Open Orthopaedics Journal in 2012, compared the prevalence of shoulder, neck, and upper back pain among men and women. One of the study’s more intriguing findings was that women experience neck and upper back pain at just over twice the rate of men. Another noteworthy conclusion the study shared was that the reasons men and women experience neck and shoulder pain are often very different.
Among men, the most common reason for neck and shoulder pain is bad posture—a factor that can usually be corrected without surgery. For women, breast size was a common cause of chronic upper back pain, even more so than posture. Breasts that are too large for a person’s frame often can’t be completely addressed without a reduction mammaplasty, or breast reduction surgery as it’s more commonly called.
In this post, we’ll talk about some of the links between large breasts and back pain and also tell you what to expect if you’re thinking about a consultation for breast reduction surgery.
Why Large Breasts Cause Upper Back Pain for Women
There are three primary reasons why large breasts are among the leading causes of chronic back pain among women.
- First, the breasts often place excessive weight on the chest and upper abdomen over time. If muscles in your upper abdomen and back aren’t strong enough to support this weight, this constant force gradually causes your upper back to compensate for the extra weight on the front of the body.
- Second, breasts, especially larger sized breasts, affect posture. As bone and muscle density change over the course of a woman’s life, posture-related issues caused by large breasts can include injuries to the spine such a herniated discs, osteoarthritis, and myofascial pain.
- Third, poorly fitting bras for women are a significant cause of upper back pain. A study published in the medical journal Chiropractic & Osteopathy found that approximately 80% of women experiencing chronic upper back pain were wearing a bra that was actually too big or too small for them.
How to Relieve Upper Back Pain Caused by Large Breasts
There are numerous non-surgical ways to temporarily relieve and reduce upper back pain caused by large breasts, including getting properly fitted bras, physical therapy, and exercises to strengthen target muscle groups. However, the only way to permanently resolve upper back pain from large breasts is to consider breast reduction surgery. Research from the American Society of Plastic Surgery shows strong evidence that breast reduction surgery can significantly reduce upper back pain for women with breasts sized DD or higher.
Is Breast Reduction Surgery Right for You?
Talk to your doctor about breast reduction surgery if you experience:
- Chronic pain in your neck and shoulders
- Constant irritation and pain caused by your bra putting pressure on your skin
- Negative impacts on your self-confidence due to invasive attention
- Hindrances to your athletic performance due to body mechanics
- Unhappiness with the shape or size of your breasts
If you think a breast reduction might be right for you, the next step is to sit down with a board-certified plastic surgeon to help build the treatment roadmap to a happier, healthier (mentally and physically) you.