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Highgate Adelaide,
SA 5063

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Ultrasound for mastitis – pain management with Physiotherapy


Breast engorgement, blocked milk ducts, and Mastitis can be highly debilitating and uncomfortable conditions, especially when trying to look after a little one.

Although painful, it’s comforting to know that a lot can be done to treat mastitis, alleviate the symptoms, and ultimately resolve it.

Treatments that can help with Mastitis

This high-quality study, published in 2023, demonstrated that conservative treatment, including Physiotherapy, is very effective in the treatment of Mastitis. We utilise a range of different treatments to reduce symptoms associated with Mastitis and ultimately resolve the condition, including:

  • Therapeutic ultrasound
  • Lymphatic drainage breast massage
  • Taping
  • Breast feeding advice
  • Specific education on how to help alleviate your symptoms at home

Our women’s health expert Physiotherapist, Sophie, has completed extra training around mastitis management, including mastitis ultrasound, and can administer the abovementioned treatments.

What is Mastitis?

Mastitis is a common condition in breastfeeding women, often resulting from blocked ducts or a bacterial infection.

According to the Royal Women’s Hospital in Victoria, Mastitis symptoms typically include redness, swelling, and warmth in the affected breast, accompanied by severe breast pain. Other common symptoms include fever, chills, and a general feeling of malaise, similar to flu-like symptoms. Left untreated, mastitis can lead to the formation of a breast abscess, a painful collection of pus that may require surgical drainage.

How Therapeutic Ultrasound treatment can help

Therapeutic ultrasound treatment (TUS) uses high-frequency sound waves and thermal energy to penetrate deep into the tissues, reducing inflammation and swelling. It can be highly effective in treating conditions along the mastitis spectrum. 

When applied to the affected breast tissue, ultrasound waves create microscopic vibrations, generating heat and promoting blood flow. This process helps relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and resolve blocked milk ducts.

The gentle warmth induced by ultrasound treatment can enhance milk flow, aiding in the clearance of stagnant milk and preventing further blocked ducts. Additionally, ultrasound treatment stimulates the body’s natural healing mechanisms, promoting tissue repair, regeneration and blood flow.

A growing body of research supports the efficacy of therapeutic ultrasound in managing mastitis, and the most recent clinical guidelines recommend it. 

Studies have demonstrated its ability to treat mastitis effectively, including reducing pain, improving symptoms, and accelerating recovery in breastfeeding women with mastitis. It is recommended to be performed on consecutive days until relief is achieved. 

However, if symptoms persist beyond several days, we may direct you to your doctor for further investigations or a course of antibiotics if appropriate, as these should be reserved only for more severe cases of bacterial mastitis. 

In women’s health physiotherapy practice, the integration of therapeutic ultrasound into treatment protocols for mastitis is becoming increasingly common. 

Physiotherapists skilled in this modality tailor treatment plans to meet each individual’s unique needs, considering factors such as the severity of symptoms, breast feeding status, and personal preferences. 

Alongside ultrasound treatment, physiotherapy interventions may encompass manual techniques, including lymphatic drainage (see image below), education on breastfeeding techniques, and strategies to prevent recurrent mastitis.

What next?

If you experience any signs of breast pain, discomfort or mastitis symptoms, feel free to call one of our friendly team members on 8490 0777 or email us at for treatment and advice on how to get back to feeding more comfortably and keep looking after the little one! 


Can you exercise with Mastitis?

While it’s generally advisable to rest and allow your body to recover when experiencing mastitis, mild exercise might be possible depending on your symptoms and how you’re feeling.

Gentle activities like walking or stretching could be beneficial, but it’s important to listen to your body and avoid any strenuous or high-impact exercises that could exacerbate discomfort or prolong recovery.

Additionally, be sure to stay hydrated and wear a supportive bra during any exercise to help alleviate discomfort.

Can you drain mastitis?

“Draining” mastitis is often an essential part of management. Draining the affected breast through breastfeeding techniques and other therapeutic strategies can help alleviate symptoms and promote healing by removing stagnant milk and bacteria from the affected ducts.

However, it’s advised not to aim to empty the breast but instead to feed the infant on demand, as overfeeding/overemptying stimulates a cycle of hyperlactation and is a risk factor for worsening tissue oedema and inflammation.

Massaging the breast gently while breastfeeding can also help to ensure effective drainage.

Meet our highly qualified Women’s Health Physiotherapist Sophie

Sophie has a wealth of experience in treating women’s health & pregnancy-related conditions

Sophie has a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from the University of South Australia but has also gained further qualifications in neuromuscular dry needling, clinical pilates, pelvic health, and the assessment/management of pelvic floor dysfunctions.

She has obtained her postgraduate certificate in Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy and is currently completing her Masters in Pelvic Health through the University of Adelaide on her pathway to APA titling.

Sophie is passionate about helping women throughout their pregnancy and helping postpartum mums during their fourth trimester. She loves to help women feel strong, get back into the gym and/or return to running safely.

Sophie grew up playing a wide range of sports and enjoys helping individuals rehabilitate following injury so they can get back to doing what they love.

Outside of the clinic, Sophie can’t sit still! You’ll often find her socialising with friends over coffee, gin or wine (born and bred in the Barossa), in the gym, or out having a boogie at a music gig.

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