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Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation

Blocked Milk Duct (Mastitis)

Blocked Milk Duct (Mastitis)

What Causes a Blocked Milk Duct?

It is not uncommon for breastfeeding moms to experience a blocked or plugged milk duct. Ducts become blocked when milk fails to drain completely or if the duct becomes compressed or damaged. This can happen after an illness such as a cold, during a particularly busy or stressful time such as the holidays, or simply out of the blue. Sometimes it happens after sleeping awkwardly, extended time between nursing (after returning to work, once your baby begins sleeping through the night), improper latch, using a pump that is not powerful enough, wearing a nursing bra that does not fit well, or from sleeping on your stomach.  It can even occur after a long car journey if the seat belt is pushing against the breast. Left untreated, a blocked duct can develop into a full-blown breast infection known as mastitis, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

  • Small, hard, tender lump on the breast
  • Hot sensation or swelling that may feel better after nursing
  • Redness
  • Feeling achy, run down, and feverish

How can Donna Sarna Physiotherapy help?

At Donna Sarna Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation, the physiotherapist will assess and provide treatment that may include education on breastfeeding positions, postural education and self-massage techniques for mom. Treatment also includes myofascial release, scapular stabilization exercises, stretching, and ultrasound.

Therapeutic ultrasound generates deep heat, which can aid in breaking up hardened milk that is blocking the milk duct. This is very effective if used in combination with warm compresses and massage. It can also help with the pain caused by the blockage.

Timely treatment is of the essence for a blocked milk duct. If left untreated, it may create an infection – known as mastitis. Physiotherapy treatment is often effective, however, your physiotherapist will assess for any signs of infection that would indicate mastitis. If an infection is suspected, it is recommended that you see your doctor immediately for consultation.