Mastitis and blocked ducts are two common conditions that can occur in lactating people. Mastitis is an infection that occurs in the breast tissue, usually in one breast. Blocked ducts, on the other hand, occur when milk is not flowing properly through the breast ducts, causing a blockage. Blocked ducts can lead to mastitis.

Signs and symptoms

  • Breast pain, including when feeding, touching or spontaneous
  • Redness on the breast
  • Breast swelling
  • Warmth on breast
  • Feeling of a blocked duct

Common causes

  • Blocked milk ducts: A blocked milk duct can cause milk to back up in the breast, leading to inflammation and the development of mastitis
  • Engorgement: Breast engorgement can cause the milk ducts to become blocked, which can lead to mastitis.
  • Improper breastfeeding technique: Improper breastfeeding technique, such as an incorrect latch or not emptying the breast completely during feedings, can cause milk to accumulate in the breast, leading to mastitis.
  • Cracked or sore nipples: Cracked or sore nipples can allow bacteria to enter the breast tissue, increasing the risk of mastitis.
  • Weakened immune system: A weakened immune system can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infections, increasing the risk of developing mastitis
  • Stress: Stress can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infection, making it more likely for a woman to develop mastitis.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration can decrease milk production causing engorgement increasing risk of a blocked duct

How physiotherapy can help

  • Manual lymphatic drainage: A physiotherapist can perform gentle massage techniques to promote lymphatic drainage and reduce swelling in the affected breast. This can help to relieve pain and improve milk flow.
  • Ultrasound therapy: Ultrasound therapy involves the use of sound waves with the aim of promoting healing and reducing A physiotherapist may use ultrasound therapy to help reduce swelling and improve circulation in the breast tissue.
  • Exercise: Gentle exercises such as stretching and range-of-motion exercises may help to improve circulation and reduce swelling in the affected A physiotherapist can provide guidance on safe exercises that can be performed to help relieve symptoms of mastitis.
  • Education and support: A physiotherapist can provide education and support to help mothers manage mastitis and prevent further complications such as abscess They can provide guidance on breastfeeding techniques, pumping, and other strategies for managing mastitis.
  • Bra assessments and fittings: Assessment of appropriate bras can reduce
  • Nipple health and care: Through its effect on the bacteria surrounding the nipple, a physiotherapist may use laser to help promote nipple healing. This may help reduce recurrent infections entering the breast through the nipple.
  • Taping: Kinesiology taping on the breast may reduce swelling and engorgement, helping to relieve symptoms of mastitis.