With the current Port Melbourne baby boom (!) we are seeing a large number of post-natal women through the Physiotherapy clinic and Pilates studio. Mastitis, postural pain and wrist pain are three post-natal conditions we have seen in increasing numbers of late, so I thought it timely to share my thoughts on these topics.
Mastitis is an inflammatory condition of the breast, usually as a result of a blocked milk duct. An infection may also be present, in which case medical treatment is required immediately.
The symptoms of mastitis may include:
- breast warmth
- breast tenderness
- generally feeling unwell
- flu-like symptoms (fever, body aches and pains)
While it is important to seek medical treatment if needed, Physiotherapy can play an important role in the management of mastitis. At PMPP we are fortunate to have the use of a therapeutic ultrasound machine. Therapeutic ultrasound releases high frequency waves into the local tissue which cannot be felt by the patient. These waves cause an vibration of the tissue which promotes an increase in circulation to the area. This can be very effective in facilitating the unblocking of the affected milk duct.
Self-management is also important between Physiotherapy sessions (1-3 sessions of ultrasound treatment may be required) and this can involve self-massage (light and towards the nipple to encourage milk flow) pain medication as advised by your primary health practitioner and heat/cold therapy. It is important to continue feeding your baby on the affected side while you are undergoing treatment; the milk is safe for your baby to consume and this will facilitate with the unblocking of the milk duct. If possible, it is best to have ultrasound treatment right before your baby is due for a feed as this will take advantage of the milk flow that ensues.
As a new mother, is is not uncommon to find yourself with a range of aches and pains due to the unaccustomed and repetitive positions that are required with a newborn baby. Neck, mid/upper back (thoracic) pain and wrist pain are the clinical presentations I have seen the most frequently in this population of women. With any client presenting with neck/thoracic pain, it is important to perform a postural analysis and determine the ways in which that woman holds, feeds and tends to her baby. Often the baby is held predominately on one side, which may cause a musculoskeletal imbalance to the normal symmetry of the body. Tightness in the pectoral muscles and the superficial muscles of the spine can usually be effectively treated with manual therapy and/or massage, but it is important to make sure all aspects of the new mother’s life as also taken into consideration (typical sleep routine, mental state/mood, exercise routine, nutrition, other children to look after etc).
Wrist pain in new mums
Wrist pain is another common presentation in the post-natal population, again associated with having to nurse and hold a new baby for often prolonged periods at a time. If applicable, your Physiotherapist may treat you with manual therapy, wrist taping, a rehabilitative exercise regime involving stretching and strengthening the wrist/hand complex or order a wrist brace if further support is required.
With any post-natal musculoskeletal pain, it is important to have a full and comprehensive assessment with your Physiotherapist so we can best treat your condition and ensure all steps are taken to minimise the chance of recurrence. We adore babies at PMPP and love all of our clients to remain active during this exciting period of their lives, so if any of these issues are affecting you or someone you know, please call the clinic and book in to see one of experienced Physiotherapists.