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Can really heavy breasts cause back and neck issues?

Does this sound like you, "As soon as she opened her eyes each morning, Jane Clarke would reach for the bottle of pain-killers on her bedside table. She needed them just to get through the day.Before they took effect, even the most basic tasks, such as walking down the drive to collect her post, caused her shoulders and neck to ache. And even though she topped up her medication every few hours, agonising pain was a constant feature of her life."

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If you have large breasts you don't have to sit in-front of a computer for hours a day to have back pain.Simply the weight of their breasts alone can be enough to cause back pain, sometimes even leading to long-term chronic pain that lasts for months or years.Having very large breasts can place excess weight on the chest. Without enough support from the surrounding muscles and the rest of the body, the weight of the breasts can cause severe pain, make it difficult to maintain good posture, and even lead to spinal deformity. And being self-conscious about large breasts also makes some women hunch forward in an attempt to hide their chest, which can worsen existing back pain.

Very large-breasted women sometimes have to grapple not only with chronic pain in their backs and necks, but also with bra straps that dig into their skin and limitations on the activities that they can comfortably engage in.

Back Pain and Breast Size: Research Findings

Studies have shown that there can be a chain reaction of painful symptoms resulting from large breasts, as the body compensates for an abnormal position in one part of the back by shifting the position of another. Breast cups size D and above can cause upper back pain by altering the curvature of the spine, according to research, and can have an important impact on posture.

Easing the Pain: What Can Help?

If you suffer from neck or upper back pain caused by large breasts, help is available. There is no need to suffer from back pain caused by large breast size.

Options for upper back pain relief range from lifestyle changes to medications, and in severe cases even surgery. You might consider trying:
  • Customized bras and sports bras. Because they are specially designed, these types of bras can help distribute and support the weight of large breasts especially for women with narrow backs, who have a more concentrated distribution of weight than women whose backs are wider.
  • Physical therapy and exercise. Working with a therapist or personal trainer can improve posture and encourage weight loss in women who are overweight or obese.
  • Medication. Taking an occasional over-the-counter pain reliever (such as ibuprofen or aspirin) when upper back pain strikes is just fine. And your doctor can prescribe stronger medication to "get you over the hump" of more severe pain caused by large breast size. But keep in mind that painkillers for back pain caused by large breasts are not intended as a long-term solution.
  • Breast reduction surgery. Often recommended to women with upper back pain caused by large breasts, breast reduction surgery may be the only way to permanently resolve the issue. Research published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that, prior to breast reduction surgery, half of 179 women with breasts size DD or larger had almost constant upper back pain or pain in their necks, shoulders, or lower backs. After the surgery, only 10 percent of women had these symptoms.

This is an extract from Everyday health. Read more here.

Women have, understandably, blamed breasts for unexplained back pain. Before jumping to conclusions or turning to extreme treatments, however, they should always be careful to consider more likely culprits than those on their chests first.The human back, when healthy and normal, is more than strong enough to support even a fairly large chest through the years. Instead, there are many more common factors that cause back pain in women such as

  • Obesity that causes undue and constant stress to the entire body
  • Pregnancy and the related physiological changes
  • Non-optimal bra size
  • Chronic poor posture
  • Injury or overexertion of the muscles or bones in the back
  • Irritation of spinal nerves through disc herniation or bulging
  • A weakening of the spine through osteoporosis and similar conditions

Sourced: Women's Health Research.

Dr Jamie BurtAuthor:Dr Jamie Burt
About: Dr Jamie Burt was born and educated in Melbourne, attending the University of Melbourne and graduating with MBBS in 1998. He is a member of the Senior Medical Staff at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, and was Head of Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute until 2004. Known for his respectful, informative, and caring approach, Jamie has been caring for women with breast reduction concerns for over 15 years. During this time, one moment stands out as defining what he aims to achieve with The Breast Reduction Clinic.
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