Mastitis – What is it and how can Physiotherapy help?

Spring has sprung! What better time to talk about new life. For a woman, having a baby is one of the great joys in life. A woman’s body uses so much time and energy over 40 weeks to grow a baby and it doesn’t stop once she has given birth.

For some women who breastfeed, it can be quite a painful experience. You may experience pain, swelling, heat and or redness in one or both of your breasts. The skin may be shiny and you may notice red streaks. You may also notice that your baby refuses to drink from the affected breast. These are symptoms of Mastitis. Mastitis is inflammation of breast tissue. It is usually the result of a blocked milk duct that has not cleared. The milk which is banked up behind the blockage can be forced into nearby breast tissue, causing the tissue to become inflamed. It commonly occurs when the supply of milk exceeds the demand causing it to back up in the breast. Occasionally you may also have symptoms similar to the flu and feel unwell, achy and have increased fatigue levels. This is a sign that you may have a bacterial infection and need to see your GP to commence to antibiotics.

Physiotherapy can help with Mastitis

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) recommends Physiotherapy for Mastitis.

If you are experiencing any of the signs of Mastitis it is important that you seek treatment as soon as possible. The earlier the intervention, the more rapid the resolution of your symptoms, no more painful feeds and a happy mum and baby!

Physiotherapy treatment involves the use of therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound uses sound waves to dilate deep milk ducts where many blockages occur. Causing the milk ducts to dilate allows more space in the ducts for blockages to pass. This can assist in the resolution of your symptoms quite often in only 2 to 3 treatments.

Your Physiotherapist will also teach you gentle self-massage to help move the blockage, educate you on appropriate feeding positions which can help assist to drain the blockage and give you handy self-management techniques for home. It is also very important that you continue to feed from the affected breast and if your baby isn’t taking, then you could hand express under a warm shower.

If you are seeking treatment for Mastitis then contact our Kidman Park, Stirling or Kingswood clinic to book an appointment with one of our women’s health physiotherapists.

Rebecca Gigney, Physiotherapist