Mastitis is a condition which causes a women’s breast to become inflamed and painful. It is most common in women who are breastfeeding and most common in the first three months after giving birth.
• Red swollen area on the breast that may be hot or painful to touch
• A breast lump or hardness on your breast
• Nipple discharge which may contain streaks of blood
• Flu-like symptoms such as high temperature, fever and tiredness
• A burning pain in the breast which may be continuous or when breastfeeding
In breastfeeding women, it is often due to a build-up of milk within the breast, also known as milk stasis. This can occur because of:
• A baby not attaching properly to the breast
• A baby having problems suckling
• Infrequent or missing feeds
• Incomplete emptying of the hind milk with breastfeeding In some cases, women can get infective mastitis which can occur because of damaged nipples or piercings.
Breastfeeding your baby when you have mastitis, even if you have an infection, won’t harm your baby and can help improve your symptoms. It may also help to feed more frequently than usual, express any remaining milk after a feed, and express milk between feeds. For non-breastfeeding women with mastitis and breastfeeding women with a suspected infection, a course of antibiotic tablets will usually be prescribed to bring the infection under control.
Self-help measures are often helpful, such as:
• Getting plenty of rest and staying well hydrated
• Using over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to reduce any pain or fever
• Avoiding tight-fitting clothing – including bras – until your symptoms improve
• Placing a warm cloth soaked with warm water (a compress) over your breast to help relieve the pain – a warm shower or bath may also help
Once screened by the GP to ensure that the right medication is administered if required Physiotherapy can help. Patients often feel a relief of symptoms within 3-6 sessions. Treatment can involve:
• Advice on breastfeeding positions
• Attachment and advice on emptying the breast fully with feeds
• Massage to clear blockages in the breast and lymphatic drainage
• Kinesiotaping to facilitate drainage
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact our women’s health physio Sara Croker at Prohealth Sports & Spinal Physiotherapy.