Last updated on November 10, 2023
Breasts can sometimes become a source of discomfort, especially if our breast size is on the larger side. One common complaint among many women with large breasts is lower or upper back pain.
Breast and Body Clinic answers the question of how do large breasts cause back pain, as well as provides expert advice on how to deal with this back pain from large breasts in the in-depth article below.
What is the link between large breasts and back pain?
Larger breasts, which can weigh as much as 16 to 24 pounds with D-cup breasts, create a pull that strains the muscles supporting the back, neck, and shoulders. This weight, along with an ill-fitting bra due to the difficulty in finding supportive bras for larger breasts, can lead to bad posture, muscle strain and fatigue, and back, neck and shoulder pain.
Additionally, having heavy breasts can make certain exercises challenging, limiting opportunities for muscle strengthening and flexibility that may otherwise be able to help improve posture and back, shoulder and neck pain.
What is the physical impact of overly large breasts?
An overly large breast size doesn’t just result in lower or upper back pain. Breast cups size D and above are heavy, which can influence multiple aspects of your physical and emotional health.
The body often compensates for the additional weight of big breasts by leaning forward. This hunched posture can lead to muscular imbalances, strains, aches, and long-term skeletal issues or chronic back pain.
Bra straps have the challenging task of supporting heavy breasts. With constant and significant weight on them, these straps can dig into the shoulders. Over time, this pressure can create visible indentations or grooves on the shoulders, as well as contribute to neck and shoulder pain.
Engaging in certain physical activities or sports can become a challenge with large, heavy breasts. Whether it’s running, jumping, or even simple aerobics, the bounce and movement of big breasts can cause discomfort, back, shoulder, neck pain, or even injury. Moreover, finding appropriate sports bras that provide ample support can be difficult.
Bigger breasts may lead to skin problems underneath or between them, especially in warm weather. The skin in these areas can become irritated, leading to rashes, chafing, or fungal infections due to chafing, trapped moisture and limited airflow.
The effort to hold the head upright against the forward pull of large breasts can lead to pain in the neck and headaches. Over time, this strain can become chronic, leading to regular discomfort in the neck area and upper back pain.
In extreme cases, the weight and position of very big breasts can slightly compress the chest, leading to shallow breathing or difficulty taking deep breaths. This may be more noticeable during activities that require more oxygen, like exercise or when lying down to rest.
These physical impacts show the importance of addressing the challenges posed by overly big breasts, whether through lifestyle changes, therapeutic interventions, or surgical solutions such as breast reduction surgery.
How do large breasts cause lower or upper back pain?
Larger breasts, especially when disproportionately larger than one’s body frame, contribute to added weight at the front of the body. Think of it like carrying a heavy backpack only on your chest. The natural response of the body is to try to counterbalance this forward weight, and as a result, the upper body is pulled forward. This unnatural posture strains the muscles of the back and neck as they work overtime to support and realign the spine.
Furthermore, the spine itself undergoes stress, trying to compensate for this forward lean. This constant effort by the muscles and spine can cause inflammation, leading to chronic upper back pain, or thoracic spine pain. The regions most affected are usually:
- the neck, due to the effort to keep the head aligned
- the shoulders, because of the downward pull
- and both the upper and lower back, as they work tirelessly to stabilise the body.
Over time, without proper care or intervention, this discomfort can evolve into chronic pain that may affect your ability to perform daily activities and overall quality of life.
When to seek professional help
While occasional discomfort is normal, persistent lower or upper back pain shouldn’t be ignored. If you’ve made lifestyle changes and are still experiencing pain that is limiting your activities, it might be time to consult with a doctor or a surgeon.
How to deal with back pain from large breasts
There are several solutions, both surgical and non-surgical, to alleviate lower or upper back pain caused by the extra weight of a big breast size.
There are several non-surgical solutions to help alleviate the discomfort of a big breast size that may cause upper back pain, lower back pain and other symptoms.
- strengthening exercises: building up core and back muscles can help support the weight of the breasts and may even alleviate chronic pain from heavy, big breasts
- proper bra support: a well-fitting bra, with wide shoulder straps, can distribute weight more evenly. Most lingerie shops will offer a professional bra fitting so you can find the right bra cup size and straps to suit your needs
- physical therapy: a trained physical therapist can provide exercises and techniques to alleviate upper back pain, neck or shoulder pain, maintain good posture and lose weight
The most common surgical option to alleviate lower or upper back pain and other factors from a big breast size is breast reduction surgery. A breast reduction surgery is a permanent option to remove excess tissue from your breasts, decreasing their weight and size. This is an effective option to alleviate symptoms such as upper back pain.
Breast and Body Clinic offers free consultations to determine if this is the right pathway for you. Contact us today and book in with our expert in breast reduction surgery. You can also read this comprehensive guide to breast reduction surgery.
Finding the right balance
Our leading experts have talked about how big breasts can cause upper back pain (and other symptoms) because the additional weight significantly strains the body’s muscles, leading to postural changes, discomfort, and other physical challenges. While the pressure from larger breasts can indeed result in back pain, factors like poor posture, poorly fitting bras, and a reduced capacity for certain exercises compound these effects.
However, relief is available. Whether through non-surgical interventions or considering surgical alternatives, there are pathways to address this issue. Taking steps to manage pain, improve posture, and ensure proper support can vastly enhance your quality of life.
At what size do breasts cause back pain?
There is no specific size where big breasts cause lower or upper back pain. Rather it is a combination of factors, such as your unique body type and shape, posture and muscle strength. It is when breasts are disproportionately large for your body frame that women begin to experience symptoms like upper back pain.
What does back pain from large breasts feel like?
It typically feels like a consistent ache or strain in the upper and lower back regions. This discomfort can intensify after prolonged standing or sitting.
What can I do if my large breasts are causing back pain?
Consider strengthening exercises, wearing supportive bras, or consulting with a doctor about other non-surgical solutions. If deemed necessary you may need a breast reduction to address chronic pain. It is best to discuss this with a qualified plastic surgeon to determine if this is the right course of action for you.