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Clogged Milk Ducts & Mastitis Treatment

Painful Breastfeeding, Clogged Milk Ducts, Mastitis & Treatment Options


New Service Offering! 


Written by: Caroline Hodges, PTA, Pelvic Floor Therapist


The Green Room PT proudly serves the Capital Region for Pelvic Floor Therapy. Many of our patients within this demographic (but also beyond) are either pregnant and planning to breastfeed or are currently breastfeeding. Painful breastfeeding and clogged milk ducts can make this experience difficult to achieve, so we are taking our care a step further and now offering therapeutic ultrasound, lymphatic massage, and kinesiology taping to treat clogged milk ducts! This treatment is well-researched and supported by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine under Clinical Protocol #36



Breastfeeding


When it comes to feeding your baby, the most important thing is that they’re getting the nutrients required for growth and development, whether it’s from formula or breast milk. Everyone’s experience is unique and very personal. That being said, WHO (World Health Organization) recommends breastfeeding infants for at least the first 6 months of life up to two years of age (or even longer) if able and appropriate for that family and child. However, we all know that this can be a tricky and painful process for many mothers and infants. One of the biggest deterrents to breastfeeding, resulting in early weaning is breast pain


One of the most common causes of pain is clogged ducts, which can result in mastitis. These are inflammatory conditions of the mammillary glands and ducts that begin with a small blockage and can escalate to a serious infection. Both clogged ducts and mastitis are common conditions, but can make breastfeeding extremely painful and deter families from continuing their breastfeeding journey. 20-33% of all lactating women will experience these pain conditions!


Fortunately, clogged milk ducts can be effectively managed through Therapeutic Ultrasound and Lymphatic Massage/Drainage, which The Green Room PT will begin offering, effective immediately! You may experience a gradual progression, but typically the onset is pretty sudden and getting treatment ASAP is crucial to resolving the clogged duct and preventing mastitis from developing. 


Clogged Milk Duct


A clogged milk duct occurs when a milk duct does not drain properly, resulting in increased pressure build-up and inflammation in the duct and surrounding breast tissue. This most often results in pain, swelling, and a “lump” in the breast that is the site of the inflammation. 


Causes


  • Inadequate emptying of the breast milk 

  • Prolonged periods of time between feeding or pumping

  • Oversupply of breast milk 

  • Restrictive undergarments or clothing

  • Change in feeding or pumping schedule

  • Inadequate latch



Treatments


  • Use a cold pack to reduce local inflammation by vasoconstricting the blood vessels; this will not constrict the duct and worsen the blockage. 

  • Continue your normal feeding schedule! If you are trying to wean, continue to slowly wean off your baby and gently hand express any excess between feedings so your body will identify the decreased need.

  • Take NSAIDs if possible and appropriate for you to reduce the acute inflammation. 

  • Therapeutic Ultrasound: Our new service! Therapeutic Ultrasound has been proven to reduce acute inflammation and dilate the ducts to ease the flow of breast milk. 

  • Lymphatic massage or dry brushing can help to reduce inflammation and increase lymphatic flow. Your therapist will work through this with you and teach you techniques to continue at home. Kinesiotaping may also help promote lymphatic flow.


Avoid Outdated Recommendations


  • Using heat like hot packs and extra hot showers; this will increase blood flow and inflammation to the area, perpetuating the clog/blockage.

  • Deep tissue massage or “pushing out the clog” is not recommended and may lead to increased inflammation and add to the tissue disruption

  • Do not increase feeding or pumping sessions as that will direct your body to produce even more milk, and likely exacerbate the problem. 

  • Vibration/percussion instruments may similarly increase tissue damage and compound the body’s inflammatory response.


Services


  • Therapeutic Ultrasound for Clogged Duct: $30 for a 15 minute session

  • Lymphatic Massage & KT Taping: $30 for a 15 minute session 

  • Both Therapeutic Ultrasound & Lymphatic Massage & KT Tape: $60 for 30 minute session 


These treatments in combination with a visit to a lactation consultant, if you don’t already have one, can resolve your painful and frustrating experience, hopefully preventing mastitis from developing. A lactation consultant can check the baby’s latch, evaluate for tongue tie, and assess your pump parts to ensure it’s fitted properly and that all parts are functioning appropriately.


Reach out today if you’re struggling with plugged milk ducts and interested in working with our therapists!







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