If you’re here reading this page, I’m sure you don’t need a rundown of what you’re already feeling. But in case you need confirmation… mastitis is a painful and common condition that affects lactating women. It is an inflammation of the breast tissue that may lead to infection, which causes symptoms such as breast pain, swelling, and fever. Mastitis can also interfere with breastfeeding and make it difficult for mamas to feed their bubs. You may have heard on the grape vine that therapeutic ultrasound can be a useful treatment for mastitis symptoms. As we use therapeutic ultrasound in our treatment rooms at Melbourne Mastitis Clinic, we will give you a run down of how it may be useful for you!
Therapeutic ultrasound is a non-invasive treatment that uses high-frequency sound waves to stimulate healing in the body. The sound waves penetrate the skin and tissue and cause a vibration that promotes tissue healing and reduces inflammation. This treatment has been used for a variety of conditions, including tendonitis, arthritis, and sports injuries. But what about mastitis?
Several studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of therapeutic ultrasound for mastitis. A study published in the Journal of Physiotherapy in 20171 found that therapeutic ultrasound was effective in reducing pain and inflammation associated with mastitis. The study included 25 women with mastitis who received 10 sessions of therapeutic ultrasound over two weeks. The researchers found that the women experienced significant pain reduction and improved breast hardness and tenderness. They also found that the women had reduced levels of inflammatory markers in their breast milk.
Another study published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine in 2015 also found that therapeutic ultrasound was effective for treating mastitis2. The study included 70 women with mastitis who were randomly assigned to receive either therapeutic ultrasound or standard treatment (antibiotics and breastfeeding support). The women in the therapeutic ultrasound group received five sessions of ultrasound over five days. The researchers found that the women in the therapeutic ultrasound group had a faster resolution of symptoms, including reduced pain and swelling, compared to the standard treatment group.
It is of course important to note that more research is needed in this area, just like many of the conditions across women’s health! From our experience though with over 8 years of using therapeutic ultrasound, many feel the benefits from treatment. However, something we always tell our mamas, is that no one treatment technique is the be all and end all. We use therapeutic ultrasound as a primer to treatment, followed by targeted breast massage techniques to actually guide the inflammation and fluids in the right direction (we think this is the QUEEN of treatment!).
Whilst we believe therapeutic ultrasound and massage are great tools to assist you with your mastitis symptoms, for some, there’s more to it. Breastfeeding support to find the underlying issue of your mastitis is key in the overall management of mastitis. Some mamas may still need to take a course of antibiotics too. But even if you do end up requiring antibiotics to treat your mastitis symptoms, you may still need an anti-inflammatory approach like therapeutic ultrasound to encourage tissue recovery.