Pectoral girdle myalgia in women: a 5-year study in a clinical setting

Clin J Pain. 2000 Dec;16(4):298-303. doi: 10.1097/00002508-200012000-00004.


Objective: To determine the part played by drag on the pectoral girdle muscles of women in the production of pain in these muscles from breast weight being carried at the shoulders through the brassiere straps.

Design: When patients presented with pain in the pectoral girdle musculature, breast weight was recorded. The sites of pain and tenderness were also recorded because tenderness in the trapezius has been shown to correlate well with muscle ischemia. The patient was then asked if she would be willing to remove breast weight from the shoulders for two weeks, as a trial, to see whether pain was relieved. The Student t test was used to determine whether breast weight was significant in producing symptoms and signs in the pectoral girdle musculature and, if so, where these sites were located.

Setting: Private surgical practice with patients initiating the consultation randomly.

Intervention: Removal of breast weight from the shoulders for a period of 2 weeks. The choice of method was left to the patient. Most chose brassiere removal; only one patient chose a strapless brassiere.

Results: Presence or absence of muscle pain after the trial period. Long-term outcome was presence or absence of muscle pain and tenderness. Seventy-nine percent of patients decided to remove breast weight from the shoulder permanently because it rendered them symptom free.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology
  • Breast / anatomy & histology
  • Breast / physiology*
  • Chest Pain / etiology*
  • Chest Pain / physiopathology*
  • Chest Pain / therapy
  • Clothing
  • Ergonomics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Neck Muscles / physiopathology
  • Occupational Health*
  • Organ Size
  • Paresthesia / etiology
  • Paresthesia / physiopathology
  • Paresthesia / therapy
  • Pectoralis Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Posture
  • Scapula / physiology
  • Shoulder Joint / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing
  • Women's Health