It is well-known that breastfeeding has health benefits for both mother and child. However, many women experience breast pain caused by breastfeeding that can cause them to give up the practice. There are various causes for this pain. It is important to identify them to provide optimal treatment and allow them to continue breastfeeding. The causes include blocked milk ducts and mastitis, which can be treated with ultrasound physical therapy.
How do you recognize these conditions?
Blocked milk ducts are the result of a localized obstruction caused by milk stasis in part of the breast. The obstruction arises from pressure on the breast or a breast that was left too full of milk. It is characterized by a hard, red, painful lump on part of the breast. There may be a white drop of milk at the tip of the nipple or decreased milk.
Improper treatment of a clogged duct can turn into mastitis, which is a bacterial infection or inflammation of the breast. Note that women who are neither pregnant nor breastfeeding can also have mastitis. It is hard to distinguish between a mild case of mastitis and severe duct blockage because the signs and symptoms are similar. Still, mastitis presents with often-intense pain and “flu-like” signs and symptoms such as fatigue and fever, which are rare in cases of clogged ducts.
How should they be treated?
When early measures are taken, the conservative treatment of blocked ducts and mastitis involves rest and draining the breast, which can be promoted with therapeutic ultrasound. The ultrasound machine delivers sound waves to the body that heat and provide a micro-massage to the breast tissue. This unclogs the ducts and fosters breast drainage and the gradual reduction of signs and symptoms. Two treatments over two consecutive days are sufficient and seem to prevent blockage from recurring in the same duct. The patient should also:
If any signs and symptoms persist 12 to 24 hours after the conservative course of treatment, see a doctor to reassess the situation because cases of infectious mastitis (which are more serious) must be treated with antibiotics and breast draining.
Brindamour, D. Gadbois, N. (2010). Guide de traitements de la mastite secondaire à l’allaitement. Repéré à http://www.cssslaval.qc.ca/documents/pdf/M%C3%A9decins/Antiobiotherapie/Guide%20de%20traitement%20de%20la%20MASTITE.pdf.
D. Berens, P. (2015). Breas Pain : Engorgement, Nipple Pain, and Mastitis. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, volume (58), pages 902-914.
Lavigne, V. J. Gleberzon, B.(2012). Ultrasound as a treatment of mammary blocked duct among 25 postpartum lactating woman : a retrospective case series. Journal of Chiropractic Medecine, volume (11), pages 170-178. Newman, J. Kernerman, E. (2011). Canaux lactifères bouchés et mastites. Repéré à http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/content.php?pagename=doc-BD-M-fr