What is Mastitis, and how is it treated?

Mastitis is an often-painful inflammation of the tissues in the breast. The inflammation is often accompanied by swelling and redness. You may also experience fever or chills (sometimes both) and in extreme cases, can even result in infection.

In the majority of cases, mastitis is experienced by women who are lactating but can also be experienced by other women and sometimes even men.

Those at the highest risk of developing this condition are those who have experienced it before, those who are experiencing restriction to their milk flow from a tight bra or something similar, or those who smoke or have poor nutrition.

For breastfeeding mothers, this condition can make it difficult to care for your baby, as not only do you feel run down, but breastfeeding can be extremely painful.

If you start to see the signs of mastitis developing, it’s important that you see your doctor or a trained physiotherapist from Graceville Physio, Pain Slayers to ensure your condition doesn’t worsen.

So what are the symptoms of mastitis?

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As this condition is most common in women who are breastfeeding, or in the process of weaning, it’s important to keep an eye on the symptoms, which can appear suddenly.

Symptoms include:

  • Tenderness or swelling in the breast
  • Warm-to-the-touch skin
  • Thickening of the breast tissue, or a lump
  • Continuous pain or burning sensation when breastfeeding
  • Redness in the skin, most commonly seen in a wedge-shape
  • A general ill-feeling
  • High temperatures of 38℃ or higher

What are the causes of mastitis?

There are two main causes of mastitis. 

The first is a blockage in the milk ducts that leads to buildup, causing inflammation and potentially infected. This can be because the duct doesn’t completely empty during feeding.

The second is bacteria entering the breast through the skin or cracks in the nipple. This can especially be a problem if there is still breast milk in the ducts, as this can encourage the bacteria to breed even more.

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How is mastitis treated?

At Graceville Physiotherapy, we offer mastitis treatment from our specialist women’s health physiotherapist, Meredith. The treatment involves massage of the breast to ensure the ducts flow easily and dislodge any blockages. This can, unfortunately, be a painful experience which is why it’s best to get a professional to assist.

Before it gets to that point though, proper and supported feeding positions are essential in order to try and prevent the condition. Your qualified physiotherapist or breastfeeding nurse can help to show you how best to position the baby in order to avoid the condition from occurring.  It is essential that you try to use different positions when feeding so that all of the milk ducts have a good flow of milk to the nipple. 

Using gravity to assist the feeding can also help so ensuring that the duct that needs emptying is higher than the baby can be beneficial. This of course is useful in most cases except when there is excessive flow and then you would do the opposite. Lying with the baby on top of you in these cases will help but in the case of mastitis we are trying to push the milk through.

The use of hot packs can be very helpful and it is also necessary to make sure that you empty both breasts or at least ensure that one breast is not favoured over the other. Drinking plenty of fluids will help and avoiding alcohol and caffeinated drinks will ensure that you do not become dehydrated which then can also lead to lessening the flow of the milk.

In some cases, if there is an infection, you may also need to see your doctor to receive a course of antibiotics. You should be able to continue physiotherapy treatment while taking these medications.

Contact Us As Graceville Physio For Mastitis Treatment In Brisbane

No one should suffer in pain on their own. At Graceville Physio, we offer personalised treatment plans for mastitis or other women’s health issues. All treatment starts with a consultation where we begin to understand your circumstances and your end goals. We can also offer a range of mastitis prevention tips to minimise the chance of recurrence.

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