Mastitis….”Ouch! My boobs hurt!” How could Physiotherapy help?

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is a painful condition which can often occur in breast feeding mothers, and is characterised by sore breasts, swelling/lumps and redness.  Essentially, mastitis is inflammation of the breast tissue, which may lead to infection.  Often if you have mastitis you may also feel flu-like symptoms including aches, pains and a fever.  This can be a very debilitating and stressful condition, however there is help available!

What is the difference between mastitis and a blocked duct?

There are many potential causes of mastitis, and a blocked duct is one of them.  Ducts carry milk from deep inside the breast towards the nipple, and if one of these ducts become clogged with milk, inflammation can develop in the breast tissue around the duct.   Like mastitis, a blocked duct may also result in swelling and redness of the breast tissue, however blocked ducts do not involve flu-like symptoms and with treatment can resolve.

What are the causes of mastitis?

  • Blocked milk ducts
  • Poor attachment to the breast (including possible tongue-tie)
  • Nipple damage
  • Missing a feed
  • Oversupply of milk
  • Stopping breast feeding too suddenly
  • Bra which doesn’t fit properly
  • And sometimes it can be hard to work out what the cause was!

How do I prevent getting sore boobs?

There will always be certain periods during breastfeeding when you need to pay more attention to your boobs.  In the first 6 weeks when your baby is establishing its milk supply, or when you’re weaning, for example, it is best to pay close attention to any signs of redness or soreness, so you can get onto the issue sooner rather than later. If you do develop any swelling, tenderness or redness come and see our specially trained physiotherapists at SheFit Health. Our physiotherapist will assess and offer personalised treatment options and management strategies to help you get back on your feet as soon as possible.  Along with providing advice and self-massage techniques, your physiotherapist will be able to check your breastfeeding postures and positioning, as well as providing therapeutic ultrasound if this is right for you.

What is the treatment of blocked ducts and mastitis?

If you have systemic flu-like symptoms, it is best to see your doctor, who may want to prescribe antibiotics.  Other forms of treatment may include:

  • Rest as much as possible
  • Ensuring you have a good attachment, and seek assistance from a lactation consultant if there are any concerns re feeding or attachment
  • Check your clothes/bras to make sure they fit properly, and are not too tight. It is crazy how many different bra sizes you may require during this period!
  • Try to continue breastfeeding/expressing from the affected side as you normally would
  • Prior to feeding, place a heat pack or warm cloths to help with milk flow
  • After feeding, apply a cold pack (for example frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) on the affected breast
  • Therapeutic ultrasound

How can Physiotherapy help?

Along with professional advice and self-management techniques, you may also be able to receive therapeutic ultrasound which has shown to be beneficial for treating blocked ducts and mastitis. With SheFit Health, you are able to come and see us in our clinic, or we are able to come and see you in your own home, to take the stress out of leaving the house.  Check out to see how we can help.